|A Georgian Heaven (standard:non fiction, 3443 words)|
|Author: KShaw||Added: Apr 17 2006||Views/Reads: 2398/1409||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Behind the facade of Georgian elegance unfolds a story about human dignity...|
Entering through the stone arch, its rustic iron gates secured back, my car tyres crunch over the gravel as I proceed through the beautifully maintained gardens toward the imposing structure of a Georgian mansion. I'm mindful of signs displaying the speed limit, another warning, ‘Children at Play'. The magnificence of the building is more evident close up, its stained glass windows reflecting the morning sunshine, and edged in stone embroidery. I bring my car to a stop in an area designated for visitors and climb the stone steps toward the main entrance. Two immense oak doors, fastened back by brass hook and eye, reveal a lobby area exquisitely decorated as only money can do. Deep carpet, wine-red, covers the floor, with the most delicate and expensive furniture, many pieces topped with sculptured busts, beautifully polished, giving me the feeling I'm entering a palace. The high vault ceiling carved in a frieze of the heavens, its constellations, its moons shown in their artistic glory. The palatial exuberance is my first sense of wealth; lots and lots of it. Expensive couches, tables, the large mahogany desk on which a guest book rests for visitors to sign, and a push-bell to call for attention. Both I do, and wait. Also on the desk are pamphlets about mental health care, child abuse, and envelopes inviting donations. From deep within the building I hear the tip tap sound of a woman's shoes on parquet flooring, approaching along a corridor. Her entrance into the hallway is strong and positive, her footstep immediately silenced. She is a primly dressed woman in a two-piece tweed outfit, a Victorian style broach sitting on her lapel, and a ruffle of cream silk blouse blossoming under her chin. Close to me she peers over the dark rims of her spectacles, sitting rather precariously on the end of her nose, dark hair tied back very tightly, and holds out her hand toward me. I accept its fragility into mine. “You must be Tom, welcome to Red House. I'm Helen Roberts.” “Yes. Thank you for allowing me this time, Ms. Roberts.” “Not at all, thank you for your offer. The children are looking forward to meeting you. Have you signed our guest book?” “I have ma'am.” “Very good. Okay – so let me take you to meet Grace, she's our longest serving care worker. Follow me, will you?” I nod politely. We leave the main lobby area, proceeding down the corridor from which she came, her sturdy heels now echoing our progress. At the end of this corridor we enter into a large atrium from which ascends a beautifully ornate staircase. We climb, side by side, passing valuable pieces of artwork hanging on the walls. At the top we turn left along another dimly lit corridor, then right into another huge room. It's empty but it is magnificent. “A hundred years ago this was the ballroom.” Ms. Roberts says, halting briefly, letting me take it the beauty of its artistry. “When the weather's not suitable for our children to play outside we play games in here.” This surprises me, not because it isn't big enough, it is, but because the ballroom has three gorgeous crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and to me, seemingly frozen in time. We continue across the room, to another fine staircase, this one sweeping - - though not as grand as the first but still impressive. This staircase has no artwork lining its walls, but, instead, many ornate gold framed mirrors. “We call this the ‘mirror' staircase,” she says, stating what seems obvious. Click here to read the rest of this story (466 more lines)
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