THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Jun 14) The (Stately) Homes of England

Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) makes her second appearance in this series having already given us ‘Casabianca’ (‘The boy stood on the buring deck’). This poem of hers is now only famous because of Noel Coward’s superb parody but Hemans’s verse has the distinction of being the source of our use of the phrase ‘stately home’.

The Homes of England

Felicia Hemans (1830)

The stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand!
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O’er all the pleasant land.
The deer across their greensward bound
Thro’ shade and sunny gleam,
And the swan glides past them with the sound
Of some rejoicing stream.

The merry Homes of England!
Around their hearths by night,
What gladsome looks of household love
Meet in the ruddy light!
There woman’s voice flows forth in song,
Or childhood’s tale is told,
Or lips move tunefully along
Some glorious page of old.

The blessed Homes of England!
How softly on their bowers
Is laid the holy quietness
That breathes from Sabbath-hours!
Solemn, yet sweet, the church-bell’s chime
Floats thro’ their woods at morn;
All other sounds, in that still time,
Of breeze and leaf are born.

The Cottage Homes of England!
By thousands on her plains,
They are smiling o’er the silvery brooks,
And round the hamlet-fanes.
Thro’ glowing orchards forth they peep,
Each from its nook of leaves,
And fearless there the lowly sleep,
As the bird beneath the eaves.

The free, fair Homes of England!
Long, long, in hut and hall,
May hearts of native proof be rear’d
To guard each hallow’d wall!
And green for ever be the groves,
And bright the flowery sod,
Where first the child’s glad spirit loves
Its country and its God!


The Stately Homes Of England (from Operette)

Noël Coward


Verse 1

Lord Elderley, Lord Borrowmere,
Lord Sickert and Lord Camp
With every virtue, every grace,
Ah what avails the sceptred race,
Here you see – the four of us,
And there are so many more of us
Eldest sons that must succeed.
We know how Caesar conquered Gaul
And how to whack a cricket ball;
Apart from this, our education

Lacks co-ordination.
Though we’re young and tentative
And rather rip-representative,
Scions of a noble breed,
We are the products of those homes serene and stately
Which only lately
Seem to have run to seed!

Refrain 1
The Stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand,
To prove the upper classes
Have still the upper hand;
Though the fact that they have to be rebuilt
And frequently mortgaged to the hilt
Is inclined to take the gilt
Off the gingerbread,
And certainly damps the fun
Of the eldest son –
But still we won’t be beaten,
We’ll scrimp and scrape and save,
The playing fields of Eton
Have made us frightfully brave-
And though if the Van Dycks have to go
And we pawn the Bechstein Grand,
We’ll stand
By the Stately Homes of England.

Verse 2
Here you see
The pick of us,
You may be heartily sick of us,
Still with sense
We’re all imbued.
Our homes command extensive views
And with assistance from the Jews
We have been able to dispose of
Rows and rows and rows of
Gainsboroughs and Lawrences,
Some sporting prints of Aunt Florence’s,
Some of which were rather rude.
Although we sometimes flaunt our family conventions,
Our good intentions
Mustn’t be misconstrued.

Refrain 2
The Stately Homes of England
We proudly represent,
We only keep them up for
Americans to rent.
Though the pipes that supply the bathroom burst
And the lavatory makes you fear the worst,
It was used by Charles the First
Quite informally,
And later by George the Fourth
On a journey north.
The State Apartments keep their
Historical renown,
It’s wiser not to sleep there
In case they tumble down;
But still if they ever catch on fire
Which, with any luck, they might
We’ll fight
For the Stately Homes of England.

Refrain 3
The Stately Homes of England,
Though rather in the lurch,
Provide a lot of chances
For Psychical Research –
There’s the ghost of a crazy younger son
Who murdered, in thirteen fifty-one,
An extremely rowdy Nun
Who resented it,
And people who come to call
Meet her in the hall.
The baby in the guest wing,
Who crouches by the grate,
Was walled up in the west wing
In fourteen twenty-eight.
If anyone spots
The Queen of Scots
In a hand-embroidered shroud
We’re proud
Of the Stately Homes of England.

Reprise – Act 11

Lord Elderley, Lord Borrowmere,
Lord Sickert and Lord Camp,
Behold us in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy and hard to please.
Reading in Debrett of us,
This fine Patrician quartette of us,
We can feel extremely proud,
Our ancient lineage we trace
Back to the cradle of the Race
Before those beastly Roman bowmen
Bitched our local Yeomen.
Through the new democracy
May pain the old Aristocarcy
We’ve not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance what will be – will be.
Our heads will still be
Bloody but quite unbowed!




Refrain 4
The Stately Homes of England
In valley, dale and glen
Produce a race of charming,
Innocuous young men.
Though our mental equipment may be slight
And we barely distinguish left from right,
We are quite prepared to fight
For our principles,
Though none of us know so far
What they really are.
Our duty to the nation,
It’s only fair to state,
Lies not in pro-creation
But what we pro-create;
And so we can cry
With kindling eye
As to married like we go,
What ho!
For the Stately Homes of England!

Refrain 5
The Stately Homes of England,
Although a trifle bleak,
Historically speaking,
Are more or less unique.
We’ve a cousin who won the Golden Fleece
And a very peculiar fowling-piece
Which was sent to Cromwell’s niece,
Who detested it,
And rapidly sent it back
With a dirty crack.
A note we have from Chaucer
Contains a bawdy joke.
We also have a saucer
That Bloody Mary broke.
We’ve two pairs of tights
King Arthur’s Knights
Had completely worn away.
Sing Hey!
For the Stately Homes of England!

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