Sudley House and the Haunted Painting - The Poetry of Photography #5

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4 min read

In Sudley Suburbs hidden Holt home sits stately - haunted by kindness.

All photography and poetry is © raj808, all rights reserved.

Sudley House

Hidden from most tourist trails in the leafy suburbs somewhere between Sudley and Aigburth sits a Victorian merchant’s house that had a profound effect upon me. Sudley House has been turned into a museum with art works to rival that of the Walker Art gallery which I have written many articles about. Sudley House boasts a works of art by Turner, Millais, Landseer and Gainsborough, but it is not these works of art I want to write about today, although I might write Ekphrastic poetry post, in response to these art works at some point in the future.

Sudley House has a different feel to the grandeur of the Georgian Roman pillared Walker, it is a far more intimate feeling environment, smaller and very obviously a onetime residence. Although a grand house, Sudley House feels warm and welcoming, yet there is something in the air that picks at your neck hair if you’re that way inclined.

The Haunted Painting of Ann Holt

In the second photograph there are two paintings hanging on the wall, one of an older woman, Mrs George Holt (maiden name: Bessie Bright) and a second of a younger woman Emma Holt, the only child of George and Elizabeth Holt. As I looked at this painting I was overcome with a strange feeling, I can only describe it as a melancholic compassion, a feeling which grew stronger as I focused in on the eyes of Emma Holt. It was at this point that I had to look away as I felt like I was going to be sick and/or cry, it genuinely felt like I was losing my own personality to a void of nothingness, but with someone else there in the background.

I’m not one to baulk at anything strange, so after a brief pause, and wander around to look at the other paintings in the room (pic 4 of George Holt and pic 5 of Emma Durning and Anne Holt), I returned to look at the painting of Emma Holt. If you look closely at that painting in the photograph (pic 2) she seems to be half smiling, but above all she has kind eyes. Upon this second viewing that was the prevailing feeling, kindness. It seemed to shine from her eyes and fill me up until I had nothing left inside my mind. Various situations I’ve had to deal with in my life which has birthed a certain level of anger and frustration melted away, and again I felt like I was taken over, but this time only with a serine silence.

I can’t explain any of this, only to state outright that I had never visited Sudley House before, or knew anything about the Holt family or Emma Holt in particular. The library, which is where that painting hung, was the first room we visited and there were no information plaques on the wall in here, only a sleeve of laminated sheets detailing some of the history at the end of the room near to the door to the drawing room.

I later found out that Emma Holt was a keen philanthropist and supporter of women's education. She sat on the women’s council at Liverpool University, donating money and time to helping further the equality of the sexes. Bearing in mind that the Holt family built and inhabited Sudley House in the early 1800s, a time known for its poverty, and also a time when the aristocracy (and merchant classes) were often involved in furthering poverty and facilitating abhorrent practices such as slavery; in this age Emma Holt spent her time and money trying to help women.

I think this is what I felt when looking at this painting, somehow the spirit of Emma Holt shone through it. Or perhaps my mind was open in some strange way that I’ve not experienced before; all I know is that it is the closest I’ve ever felt to a true haunting experience.

What is Haiku?

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that dates back to the 17th century. It consists of three lines with a total of 17 syllables, typically arranged in a 5-7-5 pattern. The brevity and simplicity of haiku make it a perfect medium for capturing fleeting moments and expressing profound emotions.

Thanks for reading 🙂🌿

All pictures are my own.

I would like to give a big shout-out to @stickupcurator (and @stickupboys) for their amazing contribution to supporting music, art, imaginative writing, and all things creative on hive. If you haven't already, you should go check out their account for music, crypto podcasts and much much more 👍

Series Part 1: SkyScape Escapes - The Poetry of Photography

Series Part 2: Canal Reflections - The Poetry of Photography #2

Series Part 3: Dining at the Albert Dock - The Poetry of Photography #3

Series Part 4: New Brighton Salt Plains - The Poetry of Photography #4

If you have enjoyed this poetry post you can check out my other work on my homepage @raj808.

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