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Monday, 8 April 2019

Be More Jane blog tour - an interview with author Sophie Andrews

Front cover of Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews

I first met Sophie Andrews at the Jane Austen Festival 2014 Regency Promenade in Bath. We were both taking part in the parade for the first time and were very excited to meet Adrian Lukis aka Mr Wickham from the BBC’s superb 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It was a real pleasure to see that a passion for Jane Austen and her works had reached the next generation.

Joana Starnes, Rachel Knowles and Sophie Andrews at Jane Austen Promenade Bath 2014
Joana Starnes, Rachel Knowles and Sophie Andrews
at the Jane Austen Festival Grand Promenade Bath (2014)
I am delighted to be able to weclome Sophie to my blog today in support of her literary adventure – a book entitled Be More Jane which is, unsurprisingly, all about Jane Austen and the inspiration her writing can be to us today. Be More Jane is a beautifully illustrated little gift book, ideal for Janeites. It is full of Jane Austen’s wisdom and some light-hearted sections drawn from Jane Austen’s novels such as The perfect way to catch a husband! - according to Miss Lydia Bennet.

Giveaway of Be More Jane

Thank you for all the wonderful quotes and comments on my blog. I found it too hard to choose and so asked my daughter Abi to pick. The winner of the copy of Be More Jane is Romancing Romances with a quote from Northanger Abbey:
Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.
An interview with Sophie Andrews

Sophie Andrews © Brian Hubbard
Sophie Andrews © Brian Hubbard
Thank you, Rachel, for welcoming me here today and for starting my blog tour! It has been such an exciting journey, writing Be More Jane, and it feels wonderful, if nerve-wracking, to be finally sharing it with others!

What inspired you to write Be More Jane?

I had been toying with the idea of a book for a little while, but I could never decide exactly what to focus on, or how to go about it, so it remained just as an idea at the back of my mind, for a future date perhaps. But then, out of the blue last summer, I received an email from CICO books, enquiring whether I had ever thought of writing a book! As well as being very surprised and rather flattered, this persuaded me to go for it and gave me the impetus to begin planning! It was talking through my ideas with my publishers at CICO Books that gave me confidence and finally convinced me that perhaps after all, I could have a go at writing my book. 

I really like the line: ‘Some people tell a good story, but it takes time to establish the truth.’ I think there’s a lot of truth in that. In the long run, character beats charisma every time. What is your favourite quote from Be More Jane and why?

Such a hard question! I have included so many favourite Jane Austen quotes in Be More Jane, and there are many more I didn't have room for! One of my favourites would be ‘Where shall we see a better daughter, or a kinder sister, or a truer friend?’ which I use in the chapter Jane on Brothers and Sisters. I have one older sister myself and we have always been close, very much like Jane and Lizzy Bennet. Seeing the many sibling relationships that are included within Austen's novels (some of them unhappy ones), as well as reading about Jane's relationship with her own brothers and sister, makes me appreciate my own sister. In times of trouble, a sister is often your best friend. (And, as I say in my book, I am sure brothers are great too!)

Jane Odiwe’s illustrations are beautiful. I really like the picture of the Cobb in Lyme Regis, just along the coast from where I live in Dorset. Which is your favourite and why?

Aren't they stunning? I was so pleased to be able to recommend Jane for the illustrations, as she is a good friend and I have always loved her artwork. I know she is knowledgeable of both the books and the Regency era and was confident she would create beautiful, historically accurate images with a classic feel that would complement my style of writing - and she did not disappoint. In fact, Jane exceeded my expectations with her bright colours and thoughtful scenes. Choosing just one favourite is impossible! I simply can't, sorry! I am particularly fond of the front cover artwork. Jane informed me she had drawn the image with me in mind - a brunette - and wearing a blue dress!

I feel the drawings fall into two categories - landscapes and character-based scenes - so I can perhaps narrow it down to a favourite from each. Landscapes: I think my favourite has to be the Sunrise at Box Hill. I adore the morning colours and the serenity of the scene. Characters: I think it has to be Lizzy walking to Netherfield Park, her hem 'six inches deep in mud'! This scene really resonates with me - I have muddied my hem many a time! I also love Netherfield in the background, based on Basildon Park. This National Trust house was used as Netherfield in the 2005 film, and it is near to where I live, so I have many happy memories there.
Emma Woodhouse paints a portrait  of Harriet by Jane Odiwe © CICO Books
Emma Woodhouse paints a portrait of Harriet by Jane Odiwe
 from Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews © CICO Books
You mention the only known proposal of marriage that Jane Austen received, from her friends’ brother, Harris Bigg-Wither. What do you think prompted her to originally accept his proposal? And why do you think she changed her mind?

Of course, in Austen's time, the need to marry was paramount. We see this truth reflected often in her novels, a prime example being Mrs Bennet, who is very aware of the need to find husbands for her five daughters. Some would say she is a little too enthusiastic! Jane Austen would of course have understood the importance and the security which an advantageous marriage would bring her and, especially after the death of her father, the need to secure a comfortable future for herself, her mother and her sister. However, she was also a very strong-minded woman who wrote about heroines who do not conform to society. They will marry, only if it is for love, and not because society demands it or their father has arranged it. 

Therefore, I feel that she would also have wished this for herself. She did not want to tie herself to a loveless marriage. This is why I think she first accepted, only later to refuse; I believe the security this marriage could have brought to her family would have played heavily on her mind and initially persuaded her to accept, only later to then mull it over and really think about what she wanted for herself. And that was not to become Mrs Bigg-Wither. It was such a brave decision, but one I do not think she will have regretted. I am glad she turned him down; had she married, I do not think we would have the 6 amazing novels, the unfinished works and all the delights she gave us. She would have been too busy keeping house and becoming a mother, as she would undoubtedly have been expected to produce an heir. 

Lizzy Bennet on her tour of Pemberley by Jane Odiwe   from Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews © CICO Books
Lizzy Bennet on her tour of Pemberley by Jane Odiwe
 from Be More Jane by Sophie Andrews © CICO Books
What is the best piece of advice for you personally that you have gleaned from Jane Austen’s writing?

Again, I have taken so much from Austen in all aspects of my life - well, that's what my book is about! But I think one of the most important pieces of advice is what I touch on in Jane on Self-Belief: ‘Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.’ I went through many of my younger years hiding my true self and pretending to be someone I wasn't. I even hid my love for Jane Austen from most people for quite a while too! But Austen taught me to be proud of who you are, and an ‘obstinate, headstrong girl’ if necessary - which I certainly can be at times! Now I am not afraid to tell anybody and everybody how much of a Janeite I am. 

Thank you again so much for letting me pop into your blog, and for some great interview questions. And now I really hope you all enjoy my book, Be More Jane!

CICO books are giving away a copy of Be More Jane on every blog in Sophie's blog tour, so be sure to follow the blog tour for more chances to win. 

Be More Jane blog tour poster

About Be More Jane

Are you more Marianne than Elinor, Lydia rather than Lizzy? Be More Jane will teach you to address life with more sense and less prejudice, taking useful lessons from the novels and letters of Jane Austen, one of the world’s best-loved writers. Times may change, but many of our problems remain the same. Sophie Andrews, a young Janeite, knows from personal experience that in times of trouble, or just on matters of friendship, family, and love, answers are to be found in the pages of Miss Austen’s novels.

About Sophie

Sophie Andrews is a founder member of the Jane Austen Pineapple Appreciation Society, and organises events such as picnics, balls and house parties for her fellow Austenites. Sophie started her blog, Laughing with Lizzie, in 2012, aged 16, after studying Pride and Prejudice at school. She has been attending Austen-themed events since then, and was featured in the BBC documentary My Friend Jane which focused on the fun and friendship she has found with her fellow Janeites. She lives in Berkshire and has over 100 different editions of Pride and Prejudice on her bookshelves.

Find Sophie on social media:

Laughing with Lizzie Facebook page

Be More Jane: Bring out your inner Austen to meet life’s challenges by Sophie Andrews
Published by CICO Books (£7.99/$9.95)
Illustrations by Jane Odiwe © CICO Books
Buy Be More Jane on Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

Monday, 25 March 2019

Finding your way around Vauxhall Gardens in Regency London

The Orchestra at Vauxhall from London Pleasure  Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
The Orchestra at Vauxhall from London Pleasure
 Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were a fashionable outdoor entertainment during the Georgian era. You can find out what the gardens were like in my earlier blog: Vauxhall Gardens in the Regency. 

When setting a scene in Vauxhall, I have found it helpful to know my way around the pleasure gardens and to know what features would have been present at different times. The rest of this blog post is based on my research.

Vauxhall from T Rowlandson's drawing from London
 Pleasure Gardens of the 18th Century 
 by W & AE Wroth (1896)
The layout of the gardens

The picture below is from an engraving dated 1751, but the layout of the gardens would have been much the same in the Regency period. I have worked out where different features are in the print and where I think future features were, based on the ground plans in Coke and Borg (see bibliography). The numbering is my interpretation and hopefully is a reasonable representation of where things were.

Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899)
A visitor entered (2) the gardens through the proprietor’s house (1) which opened onto the Grand Walk (3), with the Rotunda (4) and Pillared Saloon (5) on the left and the Grove (6) with the Orchestra (7) on the right and the Grand South Walk (8) beyond, and the Druid’s or Lover’s Walk (9) beyond that. The Dark Walk (10) is at the edge of the garden furthest from the entrance.

Below is the same annotated print split into three vertically to show more detail and make the numbers more visible.

Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751  from South London by W Besant (1899) - left section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899) - left section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751  from South London by W Besant (1899) - middle section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899) - middle section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751  from South London by W Besant (1899) - far right section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899) - right section
Key to the map
  1. The Proprietor’s House
  2. The original entrance through the Proprietor’s House with the Water Gate outside it. This remained the nearest entrance for visitors who came by boat.
  3. The Grand Walk
  4. The Rotunda

    The Rotunda at Vauxhall 1752 from London Pleasure  Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    The Rotunda at Vauxhall 1752 from London Pleasure
     Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
  5. The Pillared Saloon
  6. The Grove

    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London  by W Besant (1899) - cropped to the Grove
    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London
     by W Besant (1899) - close up to show the Grove
  7. The Orchestra – this is the original in the 1751 print, with the Organ Room behind. The Gothic Orchestra was built in the same place.

    Vauxhall Gardens from The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
    Vauxhall Gardens from The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
  8. The Grand South Walk
  9. The Druids or Lovers Walk
  10. The Dark Walk
  11. The Prince’s Pavilion
  12. The Gothic Piazza
  13. The Handel Piazza
  14. The Chinese Temples and Arcade

    The Chinese Pavilion, Vauxhall from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
    The Chinese Pavilion, Vauxhall
    from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
  15. The Cascade - you can read about the Cascade here: The Cascade at Vauxhall Gardens
  16. The Turkish Tent
  17. Supper-boxes

    The Chinese temples and arcade with supper-boxes, Vauxhall   from an engraving dated 1751 from South London by W Besant (1899)
    The Chinese temples and arcade with supper-boxes, Vauxhall
    from an engraving dated 1751 from South London by W Besant (1899)
  18. Triumphal Arches

    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London   by W Besant (1899) - close up to show triumphal arches
    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London
     by W Besant (1899) - close up to show triumphal arches
  19. Site of an outdoor painting or transparency, and later of the Firework Tower
  20. The Hermitage – the walk parallel to the Grand Walk leading to it became known as Hermits Walk.
  21. Site of an outdoor painting or transparency, and later of the Submarine Cave
  22. The Ballet Theatre or Rope-Dancing Theatre
  23. The Octagon Rooms
  24. The Centre Cross Walk
  25. The Prince’s Gallery and Ante-Room or Long Room (behind the Handel Piazza)
  26. The Grand Chinese Entrance
  27. The Coach Gate onto Kennington Lane was to the right of this
  28. The Necessary House was to the left of this, at the corner of the gardens
  29. The Supper Room or Saloon or Ballroom was attached to the Rotunda - known by 1814 as the Promenade Room or Turkish Saloon
Some of the more important changes between 1751 and 1830 were:
  • The original Orchestra and Organ Building were demolished in 1757-8 and replaced by the Gothic Orchestra.
  • A new entrance was added onto Kennington Lane around 1762 and this was rebuilt with waiting rooms and cloakrooms in 1786. This is sometimes called the Coach Gate (to the right of 27).
  • 1769 The Covered Walks were created by erecting a canopy over the parts of the Grand Walk (3) and Grand South Walk (8) within the Grove (6) with an awning between them (in front of the supper-boxes behind 16) which covered the new dancing area.
  • 1785 The ice house was built (behind the Pillared Saloon (5)).
  • 1786 The Supper Room was built (29).
  • 1791 The Prince’s Gallery and Ante Room (25) were built behind the Handel Piazza and these lasted until about 1820.
  • 1810 The Covered Walks were rebuilt with a new vaulted colonnade and the Octagon Rooms added (23).
  • 1813 The Firework Tower was added at the end of the Grand South Walk. This was replaced by the Moorish Tower in 1823 (19).
  • 1813 The Hermitage was built (20).
  • 1822 The Submarine Cavern was added (21).
  • 1823 The Ballet Theatre/Rope-Dancing Theatre was built (22).
  • 1823 The Grand Chinese Entrance onto Kennington Lane opened (26).
  • 1823 The Temple of Arts or Grand Musical Temple opened (near the Coach Gate end of the Lover’s Walk (to the right of 27).
Here is another map of Vauxhall Gardens, based on a survey of 1826. The main difference between this and my annotated map above is that there appears to be a second Octagon Room on the opposite corner of the Grove.
    Map of Vauxhall Gardens in 1826 from London Pleasure   Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    Map of Vauxhall Gardens in 1826 from London Pleasure
     Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    Key to Map of Vauxhall Gardens in 1826 from London Pleasure   Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    Sources used include:
    Ackermann, Rudolph and Combe, William, The Microcosm of London or London in miniature Volume 3 (Rudolph Ackermann 1808-1810, reprinted 1904)
    Besant, Walter, South London (1899)
    Coke, David and Borg, Alan, Vauxhall Gardens, a history (2011)
    Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810)
    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction (1830)
    Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878, London) Vol 6
    Wroth, Warwick and Wroth, Arthur Edgar, The London Pleasure Gardens of the eighteenth century (1896)

    Wednesday, 6 March 2019

    Beddington Park

    Beddington Park from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey by GF Prosser (1828)
    The west front, Beddington Park from Select Illustrations
    of the County of Surrey
    by GF Prosser (1828)
    I grew up in Carshalton, Surrey (well, technically it is in the London Borough of Sutton, but I still like to think of it as Surrey), and recently revisited one of the local green spaces – Beddington Park. As ever, when I go places these days, I am looking for the Georgian connection. I knew that there was a big gated house in Beddington Park that was now a school and I discovered that it dates from the early 18th century.

    Carew Manor through the gates (2019)
    Carew Manor through the gates (2019)
    The house is named Carew Manor after its long-term owners. Prosser’s Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828) says:
    Beddington has been the family residence of the Carews from as early a period as the reign of Edward the Third, when Nicholas de Carru was keeper of the Privy Seal, and was one of king Edward’s executors.1
    Sir Nicholas Carew (c1496-1539)

    One of the original Nicholas's descendants, Sir Nicholas Carew, was a gentleman of the privy chamber of Henry VIII. It appears that the king visited Beddington Park on several occasions whilst Sir Nicholas was in favour, allegedly to secretly visit Anne Boleyn and later Jane Seymour. In 1539, Sir Nicholas, already out of royal favour, was charged with a conspiracy against the king and executed, and his lands were confiscated. 

    Sir Nicholas Carew from Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain by E Lodge (1835)
    Sir Nicholas Carew from Portraits of Illustrious
    Personages of Great Britain
    by E Lodge (1835)
    Sir Francis Carew (c1530-1611)

    Sir Nicholas’s son Francis managed to win Queen Mary’s favour and had most of his father’s lands restored to him. Beddington Park was an exception; he had to buy it back from the then owner, Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Chiche. 

    According to Prosser, Sir Francis
    ... rebuilt the mansion in a magnificent manner, laid out the gardens, and planted them with choice fruit trees, in the cultivation of which he took great delight, and spared no expense in procuring them from foreign countries. The first orange trees in England are said to have been planted by him. Aubrey says he brought them from Italy, but the Editors of the Biographia Britannica, under the article of Raleigh, say, from a tradition preserved in the family, that Sir Francis raised them from seeds of the first oranges, which were imported into England by Sir Walter Raleigh, who had married his niece, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. Be this as it may, the trees were planted in the open ground, and were preserved in the winter by a moveable shed. In 1690 most of the trees were 13 feet high, and it is said at least 10,000 oranges were gathered from them that year. They flourished about a century and a half, but were destroyed by the hard frost in 1739. In the garden was a pleasure house, on the top of which was painted the Spanish Armada.2
    Sir Francis was visited by Queen Elizabeth I several times:
    In August 1599 Queen Elizabeth paid a visit of three days to Sir Francis, and again in the same month in the ensuing year. The queen’s oak and her favourite walk are still pointed out.3
    Sir Francis died childless in 1611, bequeathing Beddington to Nicholas Throckmorton, the youngest son of his sister Anne, who assumed the surname Carew.

    Sir Nicholas Carew, 1st Baronet (1687-1727)

    Several generations later, in 1689, Beddington Park was inherited by another Nicholas when he was little more than a baby. This Nicholas became Member of Parliament for Haslemere in the first parliament of George I and was made a baronet in 1715.4

    It was during his ownership of Beddington Park that the house was largely rebuilt. The Tudor Great Hall, which dates to around 1510, with its Gothic wooden hammer-beam roof, was retained and is now Grade I listed.

    Carew Manor (2019)
    Carew Manor (2019)
    A lack of heirs and financial ruin

    Sir Nicholas was succeeded by his son, Sir Nicholas Hackett Carew, who died without male heirs in 1762 and the baronetcy became extinct.

    The estate was then inherited by a distant relative, Richard Gee, who took the name and arms of Carew by Act of Parliament in 1780. However, Richard died unmarried in December 1816 and left his entire estate to Anne Gee, his widowed sister-in-law.

    When she died without issue in 1828, Beddington was inherited by her cousin Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell, who added the name and arms of Carew to his own. He was an officer at the Battle of the Nile under Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson and was the owner of Beddington Park when Prosser was writing in 1828.

    The house was lost to the family in the 1850s due to financial difficulties and became home to the Royal Female Orphanage from 1866 to 1968. It now houses a school, Carew Academy.

    A description of Beddington Park in 1828

    Beddington Park from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey by GF Prosser (1828)
    Beddington Park from Select Illustrations
    of the County of Surrey
    by GF Prosser (1828)
    Prosser describes the house and gardens:
    The west front of the present mansion is represented in the annexed view, consisting of three sides of a square. It was built about 1709. The centre is a noble hall 61 feet 5 inches in length, by 32 feet in width. The height from the floor to the apex of the beautiful gothic roof of wood, is 46 feet 2 inches. The roof is evidently of greater antiquity than the other portion of the building, and is said originally to have been intended by king Henry to adorn a palace for his favourite Wolsey, but was afterwards given to Sir Nicholas Carew. The oak panelling is embellished by a display of arms, flowers, &c. The great entrance door has a curious ancient lock, very richly wrought; a shield, with the arms of England, moves in a grove, and conceals the key-hole; tradition says this lock to have been presented by queen Elizabeth. Many well-painted family portraits adorn the walls, the most remarkable of which is that of Sir Nicholas Carew who was beheaded; it is a copy painted on board, and bears date 1578. The furniture has been judiciously chosen by the present possessor, in strict accordance with the ancient style of the building, and the coup d’œil on entering this apartment is very imposing.

    The north wing was originally designed for the state apartments, but was destroyed by fire shortly after it was built, and now remains a mere shell, never having been restored. In 1817 the south wing was repaired, and several of the principal apartments modernized. A small room adjoining the great hall (now a butler’s pantry) retains the ancient panels with mantled carving. In the dining-room are portraits of several naval officers.

    The grounds retain many of the characteristics of the old school of gardening. A waterfall forms a prominent object on the east side; supplied by the river Wandle, which rises at Croydon and intersects this park in its course to the Thames.

    At a short distance westward of the house is a spacious canal, supplied from the same river; on each side are rows of venerable elms; parallel with these, and opposite the west end of the church, as seen in the view, is a fine avenue of chestnut trees, of luxuriant growth; near the house, to the north-west, are some remarkably fine walnut-trees. The park is flat, but is much enlivened by numerous herds of fine deer, browsing under the shade of the stately trees which adorn its surface.

    The church, dedicated to St Mary, consists of a nave, two aisles, and a chancel. The west end has a square tower with buttresses.5
    St Mary's Church, Beddington (2019)
    St Mary's Church, Beddington (2019)
    The dovecote

    There is little of the Georgian park remaining as it was largely redeveloped by Alfred Smee in the Victorian period. You can read detailed descriptions of his work in My Garden (1872)6.

    The dovecote, Beddington Park (2019)
    The dovecote, Beddington Park (2019)
    However, there is still one Georgian gem to be seen – a magnificent early Georgian dovecote. It was most likely built around 1709 whilst Sir Nicholas Carew, 1st Baronet, was carrying out his rebuilding programme. It is unusually large, with nesting boxes for 1,360 birds built into the walls. This probably provided more birds than the manor needed and so some may have been sold. The birds could fly out through the turret and there were four ventilators to release what must have been an overwhelming odour.

    Inside the dovecote, Beddington Park (from signboard)
    Inside the dovecote, Beddington Park (from signboard)
    The keeper was able to reach the nesting boxes by using a rotating ladder. He would clip the wings of the baby birds so that they couldn’t fly away. When they were nice and fat, they were taken away to the kitchens to be eaten! Smee refers to it as ‘the old pigeon-house’.7

    Inside the dovecote, Beddington Park (from signboard)
    Inside the dovecote, Beddington Park (from signboard)
    Later, an internal floor was put in and the number of nesting boxes was reduced to about 800.

    It was restored in the 1980s and is now a Grade II* listed building and a scheduled ancient monument.
     
    The old pigeon-house in Beddington Park
    from My garden by A Smee (1872)
    Notes
    1. Prosser, George Frederick, Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828).
    2. Ibid.
    3. Ibid.
    4. This date from Burke. Prosser says 1814.
    5. Prosser op cit.
    6. Smee, Alfred, My garden, its plan and culture together with a general description of its geology, botany and natural history (1872).
    7. Ibid.
    Sources used include:
    Burke, John and Burke, John Bernard, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland (1844)
    Lodge, Edmund, Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain Volume I (1835)
    Prosser, George Frederick, Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828)
    Smee, Alfred, My garden, its plan and culture together with a general description of its geology, botany and natural history (1872)

    Beddington Park signboards