When we visited Boston in September one of the places that I wanted to go to most of all was Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. I explained to my hubby over and over and over and over, well, you get the point, that it wasn't far from Boston and that I really wanted to go.
Now, I turns out that there is also a Concord in New Hampshire. I was totally unaware of this. Hubby kept saying, no we can't go, it is too far away, I said, no, it isn't, it really isn't, yes it is replied he. Eventually I got the map out and showed him! We of course fell about with laughing at the situation and he agreed that yes, we could go.
So, on the appointed day off we set to visit Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott. Hubby had no idea who she was, or why I wanted to visit her home. Despite the fact that I had told him countless times - and so had my Mother - that I was named after one of the characters in her book, Little Women. That character is of course Amy! My mother wanted me to grow up to be graceful and artistic as she felt that the Amy in the book was. I'm not sure that I have lived up to that, but there you go!
The house was just as I had pictured it in my mind and was more perfect than I could describe. I was so excited, I may have done a little happy dance when we got out of the car - just a small dance you understand!!
No photos were allowed in the house. There were however a selection of postcards of the different rooms for sale, so I bought some and have photographed those to share with you here.
Above you can see Louisa as a young woman, it was taken circa 1858. Below is Louisa as an older woman.
Her most famous book is of course Little Women, and the sequel Good Wives is also very well known. She wrote many other books of course. Although I have read a lot of her books, including Little Women and Good Wives, I gave away my childhood copies many years ago, so it seemed like a good opportunity to buy some new copies to read again.
The house can only be visited by guided tour and is usually started with the watching of a film about the family, but due to the time we arrived, we did the tour first and watched the film afterwards. Both the tour and the film were excellent and I really did enjoy the visit so very much. I think in fact that it was the highlight of our holiday for me!
Being a tour guide myself, I always find it interesting to see how others give tours as you can always pick up ideas from them as to how they talk, deal with questions and so on. It can be a bit of a busmans holiday in a way, but I enjoy it!
Usually therefore I don't say anything or ask any questions if I am on a tour, preferring just to listen and observe. However, for some reason on this tour my mouth just wouldn't stay shut!! No idea why, but there you go!
First of all I announced to everyone that I was named after Amy in Little Women and then told them all that I would rather have been Jo - which was as I said it true. Now though, after my visit, I am happy to be Amy!
Then, when we were in Louisa's parents bedroom later on, there was a yarn swift set up on a table, and people were asking about it. The tour guide wasn't familiar with what it was or how it worked, and I found myself stepping in and giving an explanation. Not my usual style at all, and I was so embarrassed both times that I turned a rather odd purple colour according to hubby! The tour guide didn't seem to mind at all and was very lovely about it. Indeed, afterwards when I was in the shop she kept introducing me to people saying that I was named after Amy. Not sure if she liked what I had said, or if she was getting her own back! I think she liked it though!!
So, onwards with the tour! First of all was the kitchen. This is quite a small room, but you can just imagine the bustle of family life and the cooking and caring for the family that went on here.
Below you can see the Parlour and beyond is the Dining Room. The orange cushion that you can see on the sofa is a replica of Jo's Mood Cushion. Depending on whether it was stood up - as it is here - or lying down depended on whether or not Jo - in the books - was willing to accept company of the sofa with her. This is also the room that Louisa's older sister married in.
Above is Lousia's fathers study. Her father was called Bronson Alcott.
Below is Louisa's own bedroom. If you look carefully you will see to the left of the picture, between the two windows, a small half round table. That is where Louisa sat, looking out of the window and writing her books. This is the room where I made my untimely revelation about being named after Amy!
The next room to visit was Louisa's sister May's bedroom. May was Amy in the books. I felt rather overcome to actually be in May's bedroom. I have never felt this way about any house that I have ever visited before. It was so wonderful to be there. I could have spent ages in this room alone if there had been time.
May had drawn on the walls of her bedroom various classical scenes - have tried to zoom in on the postcards in the pictures below so that you can might perhaps be able to make out some of the drawings. These are preserved today.
May did indeed grow up to be a very artistic and talented lady. She became the leading Turner copyist of her day and was very well known and respected for her art and painting.
I don't think that I will ever forget standing in this room, it was even more wonderful than being in Louisa's room for me.
If you ever visit there is an excellent book about the story of the house which I have enjoyed reading. I really would recommend a visit to the house for any fans of either Louisa's work or houses of this period. In fact, I would recommend it to anyone passing by!
As you know I have visited and do visit a lot of different places, but this really is my all time favourite I think and I would definitely return. I have a cross stitch - yet to be made - of the house and I am sure that I will treasure it for a very long time. It is odd being named after someone in a book, and then getting to visit the house of the author and stand in the bedroom of the very person who inspired that character. If you are named after someone and can go and visit their house, I thoroughly recommend it!