One month

1 October 2017
Ben Pentreath

It’s been the craziest month. You might have been wondering where I’d gone. Was I ever going to blog again?

The truth is we’ve had a wonderful but manic month, with a lot going on. And, specifically, a LOT going on on Sunday evenings or Monday evenings, and that has conspired to mean that week after week after week, I actually haven’t had time to sit down and write about it! So, sorry. It’s been a little strange looking back at photos and thinking how quickly time passes.


First, the pop-up – here is a tiny snap of Charlie and Frances’s beautiful room, tented in yellow and white stripes, lined with Charlie’s pressed seaweed prints, (while you are at it, check out his beautiful new website) and with hundreds of Frances Palmer pots in every shape and shade. The opening party saw many being snapped up and over the next two weeks we were amazed at quite how many Frances Palmer pot lovers and seaweed print lovers there are in the world.  I’m guessing there’s a Venn diagram of striped wall lovers too but the fabric itself wasn’t for sale.  There is a small number of Frances’s pots in the shop for sale for those that were not able to make it to London.  Please telephone Sarah or Mary for details, or call in to Rugby Street.

So we’ve had that rarest of things; four weekends in London in a row. It’s been brilliant. We’ve both been popping down to Dorset (Charlie to pick flowers; me to work, both of us to spend time with Henry) but weeks in London in the autumn are a wonderful thing.

Like a walk in Hyde Park with our friend Lulu, and her beautiful dog Panther, who can quite easily outrun Mavis.  It’s actually years since I’ve been for a proper walk in Hyde Park.

Sparkling fountains in the Italian garden:

The garden was a love-gesture from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria; their medallions face one another across the lake.

Mysterious boundary stones set into the ground. 

The great Henry Moore arch facing the east front of Kensington Palace; a remarkable vista reminiscent of a great country house in parkland. 

The Serpentine.

Queen Caroline’s temple:

Mavis going mad….

And showing some respect.
The next morning, Charlie and I got up early and went to Columbia Road – again, somewhere we haven’t been in ages.

The best things in life don’t change. Here’s Carl Grover.

English Dahlias.

We went for breakfast in a street in Pimlico which apparently you are only allowed to park in if you drive a white or yellow car.

Secretly I rather liked this block of flats. Not quite how you’d infill two (presumably bombed?) terraced houses today. 

We were going to the Tate – to see the brilliant (but now closed) Queer Art show, which was in its closing days.  The flank walls of the great gallery are covered in shrapnel marks. 

On our way home we screeched to a halt passed the newly reopened Garden History Museum and popped in.  Brilliant displays. 

Jellicoe’s great design for the gardens at Shute (which we visited here… scroll down to the end).


On the second weekend Charlie and Frances gave a flower course. We turned the office into something completely different for 24 hours.  Charlie drove up from Dorset with bucketloads of dahlias and other beautiful flowers. 12 students joined them for the day. Morning talks were about growing flowers for cutting, and about Charlie’s garden in Dorset, and Frances Palmer’s amazing wild garden in Connecticut, and the afternoon was a practical flower arranging class.

The results were spectacular.

Although for some people a little tiring.

The next day we took Mavis on a long walk on the Heath.  I don’t think I’ve seen so many acorns in years. Yesterday, incidentally, when I was back up there, they’d all fallen.

More Moore (this time Kenwood). 

Mavis met such a huge dog that she looked momentarily like a puppy again.

Golly I was tired the day after the class. Nice to have a day pretty much going for a walk and then going to bed for a duvet day.


I’ve been down to Dorset a few times, and last week had four lovely days in a row there – with a bunch of meetings to do with our exciting project at Fawley Power Station in the New Forest. It seemed simpler and calmer to head west every evening rather than back up to London.

On the way home, a few photos of Poundbury under construction.  The new section that I’ve designed (alongside my great friend George Saumarez Smith) is really coming on now, and looking beautiful.
This is the apartment building that very, very soon now, Mum & Dad will be moving into – it’s not quite ready yet so they’ll be borrowing the Parsonage for a few weeks until it is. But it looks good glowing in the autumn evening light. We are having fun with the interiors too.

Back to the Parsonage. Charlie’s garden is amazing, overflowing with growth but tipping on the balance of autumn now.

More Poundbury the next morning. We were there for the monthly site meeting, in sparkling sunshine. 

Including a visit to the grand apartment building, Royal Pavilion, that we have designed – where the scaffold coming down at last.

Doric columns facing the square.

The dome, ready to receive plasterwork. 

An exciting moment for me.

But not quite so exciting as an early morning walk that day, and seeing the mist rising across the lake.

This weekend we’ve been in London too. On Friday we went to the funeral of the father of my dearest friend – and he had become a great friend too, who I used to call ‘The Guru’, so wise and generous was his counsel. I’ll miss him so very much.

And so this weekend my camera has stayed at home, and we can reflect on the passing of a month, and the passage of time, and of the happiness and the sadness all mixed in at once at this strange old thing we call life.

17 comments on this post


One thing about Poundbury I hope is being considered: the reality that in 50 years Britain’s climate will be very different and people will want homes open to the outdoors much more than currently. That includes lots of balconies, verandahs and terraces to sit out on, and living rooms that open fully to the garden. Georgian architecture is lovely, but it needs to be adapted to a climate that will be anything but.

Carole Segalsays:

So happy to read your latest newsy blog!
Just so love seeing the countryside, all the flowers and the interesting insights you share.
It’s a treat to see the beautiful English countryside – best wishes from sunny South Africa Carole


lovely, normal, “simple”, life as it is to be lived and shared, dear ben, i am thankful for your very english blog! a treat to see the henry moore arch!

bountiful health and prosperity to you and your charlie and mavis, dear ben.



The flower course has been a big success and great fun. To see three talented persons as you, Charlie and Frances talking with such a passion and enthusiasm about your work has been highly inspiring. And now I cannot imagine to plants anything else than tulips and dahlias! Hopefully the hundreds of tulip bulbs just planted in our garden will behave…
Thank you for such an amazing day.


Am I alone in seeing a certain resemblance between Carl Grover and Grayson Perry?

Glad to see and read about all the dahlias. I have to say Charlie has converted me. We planted a few this year, me with a rather screwed up face, and they have totally seduced me with their utterly outrageous behaviour. I shall never have another late Summer/Autumn without a Dahlia brass band bed somewhere.


So very glad you are back. You have been missed.


How time flies, the season has truly turned, and it’s very nice to have you back amongst us. Aren’t dahlias fab? You’ve also generously shown us how to make stunning arrangements using a variety of colour combinations, textures, and shapes. Has it occurred to you that your parents may not want to move out of the Parsonage when the time comes!? Guessed right for Poundbury though! Good choice. Modern living in a beautiful, stylish exterior. Best wishes to you all, Nicola

Julianna Vaughansays:

Gosh I’ve missed you!


Dear Ben,
thank you that you are back and sharing your past four weeks with us. Gorgeous time and gorgeous photos !
Poundbury is wonderful , it looks like a many years old typical english town and will be a big pleasure for your parents to live there soon, you can be very proud ! The time until the move will be also a big pleasure the family together in the parsonage, a fantastic time !
Also condolences from me on the loss of the dad from your friend.

Dear Ben and Charlie,
enjoy the autumn time with all the changing colors and enjoy your fantastic life !
All the best for you and your parents from a rainy day in Germany,
Yours Birgit
PS: Yesterday evening we saw Victoria & Abdul in the cinema ….. amazing !


What a love share…and yes you have been missed. On the other hand, I know when you are not posting, you and Charlie are making the world a most beautiful place. Hope the move goes well for your parents and condolences on your family friend’s passing. Endings and beginnings…like the seasons. Have a lovely week.

Isla Simpsonsays:

How exciting to hear your parents are moving to a building you designed, a lovely thread in the narrative of your work. The Royal Pavilion is astonishing, what a dome and I can only imagine how beautiful it will look once the plasterwork has gone up. Hope you’ve had a rest and time to enjoy the falling of the leaves.


Although being a Cubitt fan, I’ve always rather admired those flats in Cambridge Street too.

David Sanderssays:

Gorgeous photos of Poundbury Ben; love the work you are doing there. What a very pleasant way to live – I’m so envious. Such a contrast to the rebuild in Christchurch NZ. The CBD is now dominated by glass and structural steel office buildings (earthquake resistant, of course) and new suburban subdivisions, with row after row of cookie cutter houses.


Welcome back Ben,yes we have missed your post but understandably life can get hectic at times. Charlies flower arranging classes looked good fun and you can clearly see Charlies signature design on them all beautiful.Hope your mum and dad will be happy in their new home Poundbury is a nice place.They must be very proud of what you have achieved there and how nice to actually live in an apartment you have designed, brilliant.
Thank you for sharing your photos l love them especially the Dorset ones.
I have been following your blog for a little over a year now the only blog l follow and it has become a joy in my life and l tell everyone about it long may it continue it is what the world needs more of thank you.Have a good week.


Thank you for this beautiful post and sharing your past month with us all.

Diane Keanesays:

So happy you are back in the saddle, Ben! We missed reading about your doings, and seeing our week’s worth of always interesting photos. Poundbury is looking lovely, you must be so proud. Even the construction paraphernalia can’t detract from the elegance of the buildings. The top of the Royal Pavilion looks like it was lifted off the roof of Chambord. I greatly enjoyed the pix of Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath, as well as the pop-up shop and all the others. Many thanks!

Hugs to you and Charlie,



What a chock filled month! Lots of wonderful happenings for you & Charlie and for your parents with their upcoming move. Poundbury is lovely,I hope they shall be very happy there.
Condolences on the loss of your friend’s father,these things are more keenly felt than one would think at first blush.
Always happy to see your delightful photos,you’re quite generous to share with all of us. Happy autumn!

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