Marianne Rush died in 1814. She was interred in a burial ground which has been cleared of all its tombstones. I think she painted these pictures, although they have been attributed to another lady at times in their history. She created a place which is half real and half imagined, a special country made out of her imagination. The places she painted all existed but it is not certain whether she had seen them all. You can identify most of them and research them but you can’t quite pin them down. You could call her a naive painter, or an amateur. But her vision is clear. This is the secret world of Marianne Rush.
Let me tell you a story. Here is an old half fallen wall. The gate is open.
Follow the path through the banks of flowers to Lady Walpole’s grotto.
You can pass under the arches without being seen from the house.
Take note of the pattern on the floor. Do not look out of the window. You cannot be sure what you will see. The trees ahead have formed a passage through which you must go quietly. Cross the lawn and enter the greenhouse.
But don’t step into the shadow of the gate.
You can collect some fruit but only one from each tree. Keep them in separate pockets. Hold one in your left hand. At the end of the gallery you will find a staircase. Ascend and wait in the upper room.
It has a curious ceiling. Colonel Despard held his meetings here. There was a miniature guillotine on the mantelpiece but Dr Mead cleared the room. Most of the rooms here are empty. The current inhabitants don’t need furniture. Try the fireplace. There may be something worth keeping in the ashes. Squeeze the juice from one of the fruits into the ash. Does the smell disturb you? Close your eyes. Do you remember this place?
Did you select the middle passage?
Who is this who is coming?
Open your eyes. There is a key in your hand. Slip out of the window. You can climb down the ivy. Follow the river path to the summer house.
You can use the key. Enter.
Is there writing on base of the bust? Or is there a set of pages torn from the Gentleman’s Magazine? Pick them up. You need to leave quickly. Go through the trees. Stay close to the river. As the trees thin out can you see a building?
Remember this place. We will come back soon when it’s safe. But there is somewhere else to go first. Back to the machine, before it gets dark.
I’ll tell you more about what I know of Marianne Rush another time.
But you can always tell your own stories about her.