- What’s On
In the early nineteenth century the redoubtable Englishman John Barker built a country retreat in the province of Hatay, close to the present-day Syrian border, planting his estate with exotic fruit trees, watching over the British Empire’s Indian Mail, and entertaining guests with music on the mechanical organ. David Morray looks back on the golden age of ‘Suedia Hall’
A nineteenth-century Englishman visiting John Barker’s country estate in the Turkish province of Hatay (then part of Ottoman Syria), records feeling, for a few hours at least, as though he had suddenly been transported back to Regency England. “The evening at the villa was in keeping with the day – the society of Mr Barker, his lady and family – several airs of Rossini and Mozart were given in beautiful style on the piano, the first and last time that we heard them during the journey: and when listening to the din of Turkish pipes and flagelots, or rude Arab guitars, we often thought of the melodies of that night in the Syrian villa.”
This appreciative guest was the traveller and author John Carne, whose account of his travels, first published in 1836, is best known for its illustrations by William Bartlett, the topographical draughtsman.
Bibliography and further reading:
John Carne: Syria, The Holy Land. Asia Minor, &c. London 1836–38
Frederick Arthur Neale: Eight Years in Syria, Palestine and Asia Minor from 1842 to 1850. London 1851.
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