Lordy Mercy I’ve Done It Now…

Bought a New Old House

Have you ever done anything completely crazy? I mean since you were older than, like, 15. Like buy a house you probably cannot afford? In a foreign country?

View of the Painswick Valley from the Painswick Hotel garden
View of the Painswick Valley from the Painswick Hotel

Oh you’re out there I know. Please call me and tell me it will be okay. Because not everyone thinks so. Like my friend Memrie.

This is literally the conversation we had in a taxi on the way to the ballet last week:

Me: I have a little news for you.

Memrie: Oh?

Me: You won’t approve.

Memrie: What.

Me: I bought a house in England.

Memrie: Oh no. London?

Me: No, in the Country.

Memrie: Worse.

Frances bursts out laughing.

Memrie: Well you’ve just been through a divorce and everyone says you shouldn’t make any major decisions for a year.

Me: Well it’s been a year. And it’s not like it was an impulse. This has been a twinkle in my eye for a long time…

Memrie: Well I just want you to enjoy New York.

Me: Aww. I will. I’ll be here a lot. I’ll just be there some, too.

Memrie: Well where is it?

Me: Gloucestershire, in the Cotswolds. A village called Painswick. The “queen of the Cotswolds” they call it. I don’t know what the “king” is. But the actual King’s house Highgrove is not too far away in Tetbury.

Memrie sighs loudly.

Memrie: Do you have a picture?

Well now that you ask.

This is Painswick and the parish church of St Mary’s, which incidentally is the name of the Raleigh, N.C., boarding school Memrie and I both attended. (I thought that was a sign.) The church is famous for its 99 yew tree topiaries and for the legend that whenever a 100th yew is planted, it won’t grow because the devil won’t let it. But that seems silly because there are more than 100 trees in the churchyard.

Painswick "Queen of the Cotswolds" St Mary's Church
St Mary’s Church in Painswick, and her famous 99 yew topiaries

And this is the house, which you can see walking through the trees. When I first saw it my heart fluttered, and that was before I knew it was the house I was meant to see.

Lovedays House through the yews
Lovedays House through the yews

But the minute I walked through the door, I felt it was the house I was meant to have. It is called Lovedays House, after the name of the family that built it around 1740.

Lovedays. I mean come on.

It looks big but isn’t, two rooms wide and one room deep, with two little attic rooms at the top. I picked up the keys about two weeks ago. It has a bed (thank you sweet previous owners) but not a stick of anything else. It will take a while. “A journey” as people like to say. And I hope you will come with me, and that we will be in this together.

And while Memrie has her doubts, His Grace thought it was a great idea. Which was sweet.

View of St Mary's Churchyard and the famous yew topiaries
Room with a yew – quite a few yews, actually 😉

By way of backstory, some of you know, I spent time this summer in the Cotswolds, and that I sorta fell in love with it, despite a fair amount of rain and several automotive mishaps. But the longer I was there the more it felt like home. I know about three and a half people there, one of whom thank goodness is a longtime and special friend, but that is about it. I’m  anxious about being such a UFO, and lord knows the social missteps I will make.( I am still traumatized from the fancy London dinner party I was invited to when I was 16, and I’ll leave it there.)

For today, and tomorrow and tomorrow, I will hope for the best.

More to come… Heaven help me. xox Frances

103 comments

  1. When can we all come over Frances???? It looks lovely. You have done the absolutely right thing! Why His Grace ever let you go is beyond me. All happiness.

    1. I think you are just wonderful!!! I believe you will have such a good time fixing up this magnificant place. Only you would take on such an enchanting journey. Please keep me up to date on everything you plan to do. Good luck.

      Love,
      Marilyn Holland

  2. Um…. My dream location! Do you remember our conversation about this? I’m obviously coming!!!!! A little birdie told me this news, and it is ever so exciting! Congratulations on this new adventure. Love you!

      1. How wonderful! Congratulations! You will be fine. I purchased a small PAT in Paris. 6 years later I’m still nervous I might miss important tax or building management correspondence… At least they speak english there. Have a lovely time.

      2. Thank you E Godwin! Actually very encouraging – and I hear you about the missing correspondence – regardless the language! x Frances

  3. Lovedays. How could you not buy this sweet home? I’m with ya.
    I heard you speak in Newport Beach. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to. I think your Southern manners will serve you well as you get to know your neighbors.
    Wishing you best of luck and buckets of fun!

  4. You are the ONE has taught me to trust your inner voice, to be attuned to the universe, and to pay attention to what brings you JOY, albeit with some angst as well. I think it is a marvelous purchase and I cannot wait for you to make it yours! xxC

  5. LOVE this — this is the time in our lives when we should follow our hearts (especially when they flutter!)
    I was in Assisi for an arts program this summer and am returning in May to look at some properties there — so you have inspired me to go for it. I envision living in Italy for 6 months a year – and eventually creating a retreat location for my business for several weeks each year.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  6. You have once again conjured up a special kind of magic , fun and adventure … a great deal to be excited about and look forward to..which is the best .. a big sister to Bee Cottage .. cant wait for the book !!!

  7. If it feels like home. It’s meant to be. Your friend is wrong, she just wants you in NY. Enjoy your new home. Cotswold, England is on my bucket list. Maybe our paths will cross again in the UK.
    ❤️

  8. Oh, Frances, this is a dream come true for you. It’s been my dream, too, if truth be told, since I fell in love with the Cotswolds when I lived in London for a year in the 70s. Please write about your journey as you fill up your new house with beautiful things. I will live vicariously through you. . . and cheer you on from Texas!

    1. Oh Theo, thank you. This mens the world coming from someone I consider a mentor and admire so much. I hope you might visit. You may find the Cotswolds much as you left them, which is their charm.

  9. You always pick special places – and now you can write another book! which WE WILL ALL READ. How great you can act on your dreams – and HIS GRACE likes the idea too. Can’t wait to go on this new journey with you. CONGRATULATIONS
    The view from your window is something special .

  10. Well, good for you! Hope you post some shots. Can’t wait to see all the before and afters. Another book….?

  11. Okay His Grace is still in the picture? As we AMERICANS SAY? You scared me I read DIVORCE somewhere at the beginning! I think it’s a BRILLIANT IDEA AND IF YOU NEED COMPANY IM SURE A LOAD OF US WILL COME HANG OUT! At separate times!
    I adored Tetbury! Great antique shop there owned by a gorgeous woman with loads of HAIR‼️ Sometimes we must listen to our HEARTS♥️

    1. Dearest Contessa, Thank you so much for your encouraging and funny note. I hope I will meet the antiquaries with the hair!… And to clarify, yes His Grace is in the picture because we adore each other, but yes, we are recently divorced. Which is a loss, but a reality. As you say, we must listen to our hearts. And yes I do need company and I will look forward to it. Love to you, Frances

  12. It’s you love! It will be fabulous! I look forward to the journey. A few years ago, my son bought a Château in France in deplorable conditions. They took their time and restored it to it’s original glory

    1. Oh Thank you Maureen! And thank you for sharing your son’s story. To me it is a noble task to undertake the stewardship of a wonderful old house – wherever it is. That he restored it as well is downright saintly. Love to you, Frances

  13. I have been following you for several years from Australia and truly believe that you can achieve all the wonderful things you have done in the past with this new adventure. With your great taste and boundless enthusiasm, I am sure it will be wonderful. Good Luck, not that you will need it.

    1. Dearest in Downunder, God bless your big and loving heart. Something (well, everything) tells me you can achieve wonderful things, too, and have done so. Thank you for your kind words and for your light. I can see it from here 😉 Love, Frances

  14. Frances, Your new house is beautiful and Painswick looks charming. No regrets!
    Wishing you much happiness as you make it your own and hoping it will inspire another book.
    Best wishes.

    1. Dearest Sarah, You are a doll to write and to keep in touch. It means the world. Thank you. And yes, I share your vision, and I do hope you will come! Love, Frances

  15. In 2016, I sold my much loved house Georgia and moved to the west of Ireland. I only had my rental there for a year, but what a grand year it was! I hope to be back very soon. You’ll love this adventure. Living in a place connects you in a way visiting cannot. Best wishes to you!

  16. So happy for you, my friendCongrats!
    YES! Follow your heart and believe in the correctness of fresh starts and new possibilities.
    The house looks amazingly historic and so English! What could possibly be wrong with that?’ Well, except for no guest bed yet! Just saying!!!!
    I’m dreaming of hugging you in your new digs some day❤️ .
    Sending love and a prayer for courage and trust

  17. Frances dear,
    My heart sings, my eyes well with tears for your Lovedays – we only have today so your casa nueva can only be a fabulous choice. God bless your way.

    1. Hi Olivia and thank you! You absolutely can follow on Instagram @francesschultz …If the story you mean to follow is about the house, that’s me, and Memrie is my friend who also has a wonderful house, but it is in Connecticut 😉

  18. I am just so excited for you Frances. Good on you for living your dream. All will be well. I am sure of it. The Cotswolds and Lakes District is just he loveliest. XX

  19. This is a wonderful development! I’m happy for you and so pleased that you are bringing your readers along to share the fun. I feel another book coming on!

  20. Frances, I almost came on one of your Santiago walks from Pamploma… visited and met you briefly at the Bee Cottage…feeling one day we will meet. Perhaps a Cotswold walking tour in the future. They say” if not now when”… listen to your heart…

    1. Hello Irene and we would be happy to ave you walk with us – in Spain or in the Cotswolds! Thank you so much for writing. Blessings to you, Frances

  21. Congratulations Frances! Your lovely story made me cry, like a beautiful wedding cry! When I cry like that it means the love story is real. You must follow your heart and it sounds like you have. I can’t wait to read more and live your journey vicariously. When you plan your retreat there one day, I hope I can join❤️

  22. Oh, how wonderful. This makes me think of Frances Mayes, UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN.
    It will be wonderful to keep up with you, so please keep us in the loop. Why don’t you start a YouTube channel so you can share the whole process with us.
    Best wishes as you begin…

  23. In my next life, I want to come back asYOU.
    Your imagination, creativity and grit are enviable. You will create Bee Cottage in the Cotswold. How charming. Hope you’ll write about it so we can all share in your adventure.

  24. Long ago, I wrote an essay called, “A Day in the Life of Plan B.” I described my future life in Provence in an ancient rustic house surrounded by olive trees and cutting gardens. I would be a modern-day Sara Murphy, welcoming famous novelists and painters for long discussions into the night. We would sing and dance and have dinners on the terrace under an iron, vine-covered arbor overlooking the sea. As you know, that didn’t pan out. I only got as far as the iron arbor! So, dearest, witty, charming, talented Frances, I’m seeing this as your Plan B (Plan A being your life as it is in present reality) and am so happy that you will be living it!

  25. This is me calling you to say YES it is definitely okay and I can’t wait to visit. (The last London trip I went on with mom we went on a Cotswolds tour that wasn’t nearly long enough.) And besides, what’s the worst that could happen…You put some love into Lovedays House and if it isn’t the right love match, you move on to the next exciting adventure!

    1. Oh Cynthia! Thank you my precious friend, thank you for “calling.” It means the world to me and you are right — what is the worst that could happen. I actually can think of a few other things – but I won’t. Worst is I sell the darn thing and move on. Love you, Frances

  26. Lovedays! How beautiful! Congratulations on your new adventure. I can’t wait to see what you do with it! xoxo from the California.

    1. Thank you dear Kitty! You are so thoughtful to write. Gosh I miss the Valley and your beautiful voice and presence on the stage and in the neighborhood! Take care and please lmk if you come to New York. xox Frances

  27. You’re meant to be there!! And it’s amazing and you’ll have more friends there before you know it!!! Longtime fan and painting owner and can’t wait to see what you do! You’re an inspiration!

  28. How WONDERFUL! We only live once! Under the English Sun! Wishing you only health and happiness on your new adventure!!

  29. From a recent visit, I can understand why you love the area so much. The adventure will make a splendid new book, with a few recipes perhaps? Best wishes!

  30. Congratulations Frances! I have a feeling our mutual pal the wondrous Nina would wholeheartedly approve from her heavenly perch! xxx

    1. Oh Lettie, thank you! Don’t we miss our Nina. Damn. But you are right she would love it and I am sure we would misbehave there. We will just have to misbehave without her – hope you will be an accomplice. xo Frances

  31. You were my inspiration this year, when I decided to separate from my husband. I followed your lead and did it with dignity, grace, gratitude, and compassion. Like you, we are still friends, and it’s perhaps the thing that I’m most proud – that I navigated it all with a graciousness I never knew I had. Much of that was because of your gentle example. Thank you. I adore your beautiful new, yew house, and the glorious views that will continue to inspire you. I wish you so much happiness for the future. Looking forward to reading that book, too. Much love from another author.

    1. Dear Janelle, Your kind and inspiring words have touched me deeply. I’ve had to take a deep breath, put my head in my hands and have a tiny weep. I’m sorry about your separation and for that must have lead to it, but if part of that has lead you to a truer and more loving you, then it is the worthiest of causes. Blessings to you, and thank you, and thank you for paying it forward, which you are surely doing. I very much admire your work – you are a total star!!!! – and I hope we meet in person one day. Love, Frances

  32. I’m so proud of you, Frances, for following your dream. Your new home looks amazing, with beautiful views. A great follow up to Santa Ynez, though we miss you there. Hope our paths cross soon.

  33. Dear Frances,
    As a good Southern girl, you must know that Southerners can fit in almost anywhere, because our manners are impeccable! AND the locals usually enjoy our accent. I know you will make it as lovely as all the spaces you ever have touched, and all of your fans and followers shall be waiting to see how the story emerges. It will be an exciting adventure for us all, but mostly for you! xoxoxoxo Happy

  34. Frances,
    I am proud of you. Moving to another country is harder than one imagines, and yet the rewards can be magical. At 25, I moved to the US for “two years”. I was till there 33 years later, until England (and aging parents) called me home. I just moved back a few months ago. While I never thought I’d leave the beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley, I am now re-experiencing the wonder of my country of birth. The history, the buildings, the gardens! I’m sure you will love being here!
    I know where you live well. I spent my childhood in your neighborhood. My grandparents lived in Sheepscombe, my great-grandparents in Cranham and my aunt in Stroud. You certainly picked a truly beautiful part of the country!
    I’ve moved to Sussex instead of back “home”; for many reasons, but largely because I, too, wanted a new life adventure. This gorgeous part of the country is new to me and I am currently enjoying looking at very old grade 2 listed houses for sale to find my next home.
    I wish you every happiness in your new life adventure. You deserve it.
    Fondest regards, Frankie

    1. Wow oh my goodness Frankie! This is so kind and so thoughtful of you thank you. I always regretted not knowing you better in Santa Ynez but now perhaps we have another chance in Britain! I will reply to you privately as well. Blessing to YOU in your new adventure, and I’m proud of you, too. You’ve accomplished so much, and you’ve just begun…. again! Brava. Love, Frances

  35. You are brilliant.I too fell in love with the Cotswolds in the 1960’s when I first visited there.You are lucky to have such wisdom.You deserve the best.After my divorce I went into real estate and was so happy I did 43 years ago! I envy you redecorating with English Colefax and Fowler and Jane Churchill wallpaper.She rented our place in Lyford Cay in 1990’s.I bought two of her pillows to display before she arrived!!PLease send pictures of before and after of the house sometime.You will find another LOVE there.

    1. Oh Carol you are so dear to write this – thank you. And thank you for sharing your own story too. Hope you will come visit – and that our paths cross soon maybe in LC! xo Frances

  36. What you may not realize is we would all do the exact thing if we had….um…guts. Instead we settle for the status quo …… for fifty years. Same old, same old. We will again live vicariously through you. And cheer you on from afar. What a breathtakingly exciting adventure you’re about to undertake. Savor it with gusto and enjoy. We only get one life and yet you’ve lived several.

    1. Thank you dear Ellen, thank you for writing. And well, I don’t know. My choices are not for everyone, and I would say to anyone to trust your choices and your path, because that is where you ARE – if that makes sense. I do think it is also good to do things sometimes that make you a little bit scared, and that means different things to different people. Just find a way to bring your light to the world, and something tells me you are doing that. Love, Frances

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