Christmas at Bowen’s Court

Wednesday, 20 December, 2017

Fleur Cowles, an American expatriate writer, editor, painter, hostess and philanthropist, launched Flair in 1950. Alas, lavish production costs exceed revenue and Flair folded after a year, but it remains one of the most ground-breaking magazines in modern history. “Christmas at Bowen’s Court” appeared in Flair 1.11 (December 1950) and Elizabeth Bowen used the essay to blend the history of her Georgian home with the spiritual meaning of Christmas. Her love affair with the great Anglo-Irish house is tangible in this snippet:

“To speak of the house as awaiting one would be untrue ā€” by coming back, one no more than rejoins oneself to an existence which is absolutely, tranquilly and timelessly independent of any one person. The effect of this is balm ā€” the sense of fret, of crisis which one has come to associate with one’s own identity slips away. In that moment, one becomes simply another wanderer back for Christmas. As for Christmas, it has already fully taken possession. To this, the Festival, the house does defer, as it does to no individual son or daughter. An august, additional presence is to be felt as I walk from one to another of the firelit rooms.”

Horses and hounds at Bowen's Court

Circumstances forced Elizabeth Bowen to sell Bowen’s Court in 1959 and the wanton destruction of this cornerstone of Anglo-Irish heritage by its new owner in 1961 was a crime against history.

Tomorrow, here, a local memory of the ghosts of Bowen’s Court.


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