On Sunday Brighty and I did half of the ‘Kidlington Circular Walk’ – a badly signed, mixed bag of a walk that even Iain Sinclair might baulk at. Lowpoints include negotiating the A34 and associated tributaries, but of course there was much to celebrate, too – most particularly the slightly spooky but impressive Elizabethan/Jacobean pile that is Water Eaton Manor. My subsequent researches reveal that from the late 1920s it was owned by Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders, director of LSE for two decades and a noted eugenicist. His son Nicholas (born at the manor) clearly rebelled however. He died in 1998, having been a pioneer of the wholefood movement (he founded Neal’s Yard). Some gems from his obit in the Independent:
– “He constructed a flat in Edith Grove, west London, so that ducks in the pond outside could swim under a plate-glass window and into his living room”
– “he slept in a papier-mache ‘cave'”
– “The flat became a centre for hippies and anyone with new alternative ideas. These he began to record and the first edition of Altemative London was brought out in 1970… Further editions followed until a friend meditating in front of a candle inadvertently burnt the flat down.”
– at Neal’s Yard “he designed an imaginative rooftop garden and a flat where he slept in a suspended egg and arranged a padded ledge for guests”
– “Nicholas Saunders spent the last years of his life investigating the drug culture and particularly Ecstasy”
(You don’t say?)
Not sure who owns the manor now, but Nicholas’ son Kristoffer runs a nightclub in Denmark. Sir Alex would roll in his Aryan grave.