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An interest in human skulls required

Posted by Jean Vernon on 16 Jul 2009 at 01:19 PM

Over the last few weeks Tatton Park in Cheshire has been searching for its very own 'Apprentice'. Unlike the BBC series where cleanliness, appearance and designer labels hold great sway, this vacancy has quite different requirements. For example the candidates must be totally silent, trips to the nail bar and baths are banned (toe nails need to be overgrown) and facial hair is a pre-requisite for the post. The Pent House is a Hermit's cave and an interest in human skulls is preferred.

Head Gardener of Tatton Park, Sam Youd has been looking for a dishevelled  hermit to take residence in his 'Hermit's Grotto' garden at this year's Tatton Park Flower Show next week.

The successful candidate must look the part with an unkempt natural appearance, they must take a vow of silence for the duration of their occupancy and they must be able to live alongside an iconic skull, which is an essential addition to the hermit's environment to encourage human reflection.

Sam's grotto was inspired by 19th century romanticism when many jilted lovers turned their back on society to reflect and philosophise in solitude, whilst elsewhere grand residences embraced the trend to hire a hermit to patrol the grounds and delight house guests.

The grotto will appear very green and grey with the rocks of a cave being built using tufa stone and the rest of the area planted with tree ferns. Upturned tree stumps and old bits of timber will complete the hermit environment and naturally there will be a skull at the mouth of the underground labyrinth.
Sam Youd told us: "It will take a certain type of person to do justice to the hermits of the 18th and 19th century.

"The Hermit's Grotto is pretty grotesque but that reflects the reality of a hermit's environment. I was particularly inspired by John Harris, the famous Cheshire hermit who turned his back on a large inheritance to live in a cave near Carden in Chester when his sweetheart's family forbade their marriage.

"Anyone with half the strength of character that John had will be welcome in the garden and I look forward to meeting potential hermits."

Kris Hulewicz, Show Manager for Tatton says: "When Sam told me he was in need of a hermit I thought he was having me on, but when I saw the design for his ‘Hermit's Grotto' it became clear that it wouldn't be complete without the man himself.

"A Hermit's living space is an interesting environment to explore at an RHS show so I look forward to the reactions of judges and visitors. In the meantime I wish Sam all the best in finding a suitable hermit to occupy his cave."

 Two wannabe hermits have reached the final and will be at the show next week.   


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