Well-known author of children’s books, Elizabeth Goudge, lived in Peppard Common for 32 years.
Link with the Chilterns
Lived in Peppard Common for 32 years
24 April 1900
1 April 1984
Elizabeth Goudge was born in Wells in Somerset, close to the cathedral. Her father was the Reverend Henry Goudge, a teacher at the cathedral school. Her mother was Miss Ida Colette who was born in the Channel Islands and met her future husband while on holiday.
She was an only child, and her father’s career meant they lived in beautiful places. Her education did not prepare her for the modern world as she was taught at home by a governess, Miss Lavington. These circumstances were ideal for an imaginative writer and she used instances and images from her childhood in her books such as City of Bells, Henrietta’s House, Linnets and Valerians, Sister of the Angels and The Lost Angel.
She attended boarding school in Hampshire for a while and then art college. Her father was offered the post of Regius Professor of Divinity in Oxford in 1923 and the family moved to the city. Her mother did not like the house nor the life in Oxford however so she and Elizabeth spent the summers in Barton on Sea.
Her first book, Island Magic, was published in 1934, followed by short stories in the Strand Magazine in 1934. The Middle Window and City of Bells were both published in 1935. After her parents died Elizabeth lived with a companion, Jessie Munroe, and in 1952 they moved into Rose Cottage in Peppard Common near Henley-on-Thames.
The cottage is on Dog Lane which is very ancient, and was called Pack and Prime Lane, which it still is when it reaches Henley on Thames.
Her book The White Witch was based on a vision or dream she had of one of the past occupants of Rose Cottage.
She loved walking in the Chilterns and often visited the surrounding towns and villages such as Henley, Greys Court, Turville and Nettlebed which were also used in her books and, according to her autobiography: “We (novelists) give a story the setting of a place or countryside that we love, but we are not accurate…We give the real place a fictitious name, but that does not prevent it being recognised”.
Scent of Water, published in 1963, is set in the Chilterns and gives glimpses of the countryside at that time, especially of the beech woods.
She suffered with various health problems during the last years of her life – osteoarthritis and high blood pressure. In 1978 she had a fall in her cottage and injured her leg. After several more falls during the years and extended stays in the hospital in Reading, she died on 1 April 1984 in her beloved Rose Cottage.
The World of Elizabeth Goudge by Sylvia Gower, published in 2001 by Periwinkle Publications, Colchester.
The Joy of the Snow (autobiography) by Elizabeth Goudge, published in 1974 by Hodder and Stoughton.
The Elizabeth Goudge Society
What you can visit
There is a Blue Plaque on Rose Cottage at Peppard Common.