Dispatches from Home: Julia, Charles, Sebastian, and Brideshead Revisited August 22 2022

Ever had a TV series change your life? I have. The 1981 Masterpiece Theater series, Brideshead Revisited, based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh, was that life changer. While watching it, I was whisked back to Oxford, England, in the 1920s. The ancient buildings, the men’s clothes, and their posh manners, coupled with the intrigue and the mystery of their lives, were fascinating. I wanted to emulate them. In the novel, much of the action also takes place in a magnificent country house named Brideshead.

One month from today, we’ll visit the house and its grounds that stood in for Brideshead—Castle Howard. I’ll walk that great house’s hallways and drawing rooms and soak up its rich, antique smells. When I stand in that soaring, domed entrance hall, I’ll close my eyes and imagine Julia, Charles, and Sebastian standing there before me, beckoning me back in time to their lost way of life, a life I so wished that I could have experienced for myself.

I’ll remember Sebastian’s words to Charles, too, as they sat under a sprawling oak: “I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.” When I walk into the painted garden room, I’ll hear Charles’ words echoing down time’s misty corridors: “I believed myself very close to heaven during those languid days at Brideshead. It is thus I like to remember Sebastian, as he was that summer when we wandered alone through that enchanted palace.”

And I will remember you both, along with my own summer and the enchantment therein…