Jan and Cora Gordon and the Posada at Lorca

Jan and Cora Gordon made two visits to Spain, in 1920 and 1921. I retraced much of the second journey in the summer of 2009.

"Misadventures with a Donkey in Spain" (Chapter IV) contains a lengthy description of the posada in Lorca after the following introduction:

"The posada is probably the most characteristic monument of old Spain still in existence, being perhaps less modified by the influence of modernity than its rival in village importance, the church. There are posada in "Don Quixote" which might have been described from buildings in use to-day, and as the posada of Lorca was one of the most characteristic we were ever lodged in, it merits a short description."

The description begins with the courtyard, which is well illustrated in the etching shown below.

" One should view the posada from the inside outwards. It is gathered about a large cobble-floored courtyard open to the sky, and all around the square yard buildings, which look at least of thirteenth-century construction, hold up shaky and by no means perpendicular lines. The courtyard itself is stained with manure, especially at the present season just after the rains, and this staining runs up the walls for about the height of a man, where it gradually gives place to plaster of a faded white or ochre mottled with patches of orange or to areas of exposed brick. Over the tops of these unsteady-looking walls project broad eaves, carrying lichenous and clumsily-moulded pantiles, which shoot streams of water into the yard whenever the rain falls heavily. In one wall of the courtyard is fashioned a door large enough to pass a railway engine, which leads into the entrada, a broad lofty room, empty except for the piles of goods ; and at the far side of the entrada another portal, equally large, guarded by a door of thick oak studded with large nails, and hanging from fifteen hinges, gives access to the street."

Interestingly the illustration on page 73 in the book is reversed relative to this image. 

The description continues with an account of the balcony visible in the picture above.

"The balcony on the first floor, running round three interior walls of the courtyard, is a rickety affair, but is the only means of reaching your bedroom, which opens directly on to it, so that if it is raining you can get well drenched by the spoutings from the roof before you can reach the room. I often wonder what the lodgers in the posada bedrooms will do when the balcony collapses, as apparently it must do one day not far distant."

When we visited in 2009, the heat was extreme. It was fun to see the prickly pears on the crags upon which Lorca castle is built. The Gordons had visited this place in 1920 ("Poor Folks in Spain") and wrote, "The long avenue of lime trees came to an end—and our first view of Lorca was opened out. The town was almost like a mathematical line, length without breadth. It skirted the foot of a hill for three miles, almost one long street, which we were looking at end on. Spires towered into the air, and on the top of the cliff the walls of a great Saracen ruin overlooked the town. The whole hill-side, between town and castle, was covered with the grotesque foliage of the prickly pear."

Lorca castle in 2009, complete with prickly pairs. In 1920, Jan and Cora Gordon wrote, "The whole hill-side, between town and castle, was covered with the grotesque foliage of the prickly pear."

Two years after we visited, Lorca had sadly been struck by an earthquake.

As always, walking in the steps the Gordons had taken at the beginning of the 1920s is full of echoes and resonances, of which Lorca is but one. The guitars are another story.


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