Wood-carver of Woolmer Green
By Alan Leventhall
I was born in Welwyn Garden City in 1960 and we left in 1963, so my memories of the Wood-carver’s Barn at Woolmer Green must date from late 1962 to 1963.
My Father’s parents lived in Leeds and when visiting them, I recall sitting in the back seat of the car, with Mum next to me – there were no seat belts in those days, or heaters for that matter and a rug was the only form of warmth we got – and looking out of the car window. On route from Hertfordshire to Leeds were two landmarks. The first being the curious and exciting carvings at Woolmer Green and, much nearer to our destination, a garage with a butterfly roof, which of course became the “Butterfly Garage” to us.
Being young and small, the garden at Woolmer Green seemed large to me but I suspect that this was not the case in reality. The feature that stands out most in my mind is the Cow Jumping Over the Moon carving. I believe this could also be seen from the road, which would explain why it is uppermost in my memories.
I suspect that we did not actually stop here on the way to Leeds but as it was a landmark on that journey, it has become part of the happy memories of seeing my Grandparents. We most likely stopped on the way to Stevenage, where we had friends and I do recall wandering around the outside, looking at the nursery tale characters. Indeed, until recently, I thought that this place only contained carvings from favourite nursery rhymes.
I was delighted to learn that there are clips of this wonderful place on Youtube and that a book has been written about Harry Macdonald.
By one of those coincidences that occur, Harry Macdonald came from Leeds and I find it fitting that we should have been passing the home of a Leeds man in Hertfordshire on our way to that city.