Hancox: A House and a Family
The author grew up and still lives in a house that has been in her family since 1888. Yet Hancox is no ordinary family home: it “seems to house the dead as well as the living.” It is stuffed with family letters and portraits, diaries, sketchbooks, photos – not to mention prescriptions, school reports, and even the pots and pans “that came with the (new!) Aga in 1934”. Milicent Ludlow bought the house as a young unmarried woman and moved in with her sister and husband: it was, Moore acknowledges, a “brave, foolhardy decision” that shaped hers and many other’s lives, “for Hancox is a place that shapes lives”. Later Milicent married Norman Moore, eminent naturalist and antiquarian.
An extraordinary picture of Victorian society is drawn from this unique archive – as Moore comments, “there will never be another one like it”. At one end of the scale, it offers glimpses of Darwin, M.R. James, Kipling and others, and at the other personal tragedy, insanity and tuberculosis. Hancox is still a living entity, but Moore has brilliantly succeeded in reviving five generations of her family using the “little bits of driftwood washed up on the beach of the present time from the vast illimitable ocean of the past”.