Sarah Roberts started with us as Sarah Bullock 10 1/2 years ago and will leave us on Friday 17th July. We are very sorry to see her go as she has been in the Eastnor team over an exciting period of change and positive development and has contributed much to our progress in that time.
When Sarah joined us from Challenge Business, the office was still squeezed into one side of the Portcullis, which was not ideal, though in a good position physically to intercept callers and visitors as portcullises traditionally should be. In those days, when we were only just getting our website started, we used to rely heavily on advertising in local newspapers, and so Sarah had a busy time mostly saying ‘no’ to a number of very persistent sales teams, who wanted us to use them every week during the season. Over all this time, she was responsible for producing our print run of annual leaflets for distribution round the area into camp sites, hotels, pubs, shops, other attractions and Tourist Information Centres. Sarah gradually formed an excellent working relationship with our designers and printers at Ad-lib Design Parnership in Worcester and our leaflets are clear and appealing, it seems, standing out well against a lot of competition in the outlets we are able to use.
As we have moved firmly into digital era, Sarah has worked closely with our web site designers and managers, extracting all the information needed from her colleagues in the office and getting it up loaded, including my blogs, which she always tactfully reminds me are due, though the subject of this one is not her choice. Using the internet and a website requires great patience as what is done today is likely to be superseded by some new technology tomorrow, making the old look positively steam age. Mostly, those who have visited our website have liked it and some have enquired who produced it-, and we have had every confidence in Sarah’s ability to distil complaints or ‘suggestions’, so that we only hear about the more important ones. But she has to keep all involved on their toes as the website is now the place where visitors have their first impression of Eastnor and so it is vitally important.
Throughout all this time, Sarah has maintained a heavy pace of work, under even greater pressure after she returned to work part-time from maternity leave. She has been a cheerful and valued member of the Castle Office team, and we will miss her. We are very grateful for all her hard work.
12th July 2015
We are lucky enough to have a lot of weddings at Eastnor. They are usually very happy occasions, though making all the arrangements can sometimes be quite demanding as every ceremony and reception is different. Proposals and engagements are inevitably more private affairs, and if any couples get engaged at Eastnor, we rarely hear about it.
So it was wonderful to learn of the engagement of Gareth Roberts & Rachel White at the recent Midland Rovers Owners Club rally in the Park. The MROC have been coming to Eastnor for over 40 years, but this part of the programme was a first. Gareth persuaded Rachel to drive to part of the park where there is a good view of the Castle and where Land Rover Experience drivers often take a coffee break. He said they were to collect a piece of equipment left there earlier in the Rally, and when they could not find it, he suggested they should wait there for a while and take in the view. Shortly afterwards, the convoy shown in the image appeared and the answer to his question was “Yes”, although the words read from right to left. He gave Rachel a conventional engagement ring supplemented by a special ring in the form of a hexagon nut as Rachel is a Land Rover enthusiast too.
It was all recorded on video and can be seen on You Tube. We wish the couple every happiness, and many more rallies in Eastnor Park. The MROC should be back for the annual Memorial Trial in memory of my father next autumn. I wonder if others will follow Gareth’s romantic lead?
Many thanks to gareth and Rachel for agreeing to this blog and to Russ Brown, Clubs Editor, of Land Rover Owner International for the background information!
23rd June 2015
Our annual vintage weekend, which this year included a celebration of the 100th birthday of our Ransomes traction engine, went well, attracting about 4000 visitors over 2 days. It was a different crowd from the Chilli festival, with many local families turning up whose grandparents and even parents could remember seeing some of the exhibits in their earlier working lives. As we had a nice gathering of original Minis, you did not have to be very old to have seen them running about in their original condition.
There were 2 steam wagons and quite a few steam rollers. We had a hand-driven juvenile carousel – the owner and wheel turner was an impressive 70 years old, but the ride was older. I also exhibited my showman’s van, and it attracted a lot of attention as I allowed the visitors to look around inside and the stove was alight. The tug-of-war proved popular, though the engine at the end of the rope seemed more resistant to slipping on the courtyard gravel and so did rather better than the human team in the end.
A more permanent attraction is our Land Rover Little Off Roaders circuit in the old Kitchen Garden near the visitor entrance. The Land Rovers are battery powered and can be turned off remotely in case of need. They are one or two wheel drive and useful for steering and braking training, if not speed management. The circuit does not have the usual challenges of mud and ruts, but is proving popular nevertheless, and we are lucky that Land Rover itself has sponsored the facility and the vehicles. One day, perhaps, they will be vintage too, but in the meantime they are available to ride most weekends at a small extra cost.
JHB 22nd June 2015
This brand new Land Rover Drive-in Heritage Day event is taking place on Sunday 31st May and is a must for all Land Rover enthusiasts.
Eastnor Castle is known as the ‘Spiritual Home of Land Rover’ who has been testing vehicles here for over 50 years. It was the current owner, James Hervey-Bathurst’s father that established the relationship with Land Rover back in the 1960’s and since then the partnership has gone from strength to strength.
To celebrate this, we are holding the Drive-In Day in the castle courtyard which will see an impressive display of unique and classic Land Rovers. There will be a complete line-up of Range Rovers from the very first Velar Badged prototypes through to the latest models plus other vehicles like ‘Monty’ a rare, dark green Tickford station wagon (pictured).
Inside the castle will be a display of images showing Land Rover’s connection with Eastnor Castle over the years and the whole day will be compared by Les Clayton. Les will be interviewing the owners of the display vehicle and sharing the history of the unique models on display.
As a celebration of Land Rover, anyone arriving in a Land Rover, of any age will receive half price entry on the day.
David Littlewood, General Manager says ‘Having Land Rover at Eastnor for all these years is fantastic, not only for us as a business but also for local people who are employed by them or supply goods to them. Land Rover really is something very positive to shout about, for us at Eastnor but also the whole country as they continue to thrive as a company. The Drive-In day will showcase many unique models which most people will not get to see very often, set in the backdrop of Eastnor Castle, Land Rover’s spiritual home, this should be a very special day’.
All the other usual attractions will be available on the day including the maze, adventure playground, Little Off Roaders and entry to the castle.
Gates open at 11.00am to 5.00pm and admission prices for grounds are Adults: £6.50, Children: £4.50 and a Family Ticket (2+3) is priced at £17.50. Upgraded tickets for entrance to the castle are available to purchase and discounted tickets are available on-line.
Further details are available on the Eastnor Castle website: www.eastnorcastle.com or call 01531 633160.
100th Birthday Party for Ransomes Sims & Jefferies agricultrual engine: Eastnor Castle 24th / 25th May 2015
The Ransomes 6 Nominal horse power general purpose agricultural engine came into our collection in 1974 after a life working in an agricultural and equine feed mill in Dublin. It had lost its original livery and received a coat of blue paint, though the Ransomes transfer with the company crest is still visible at the front end of the boiler barrel. But it was in remarkably good condition and complete with all its fittings, so we were able to steam it almost as soon as it came home. We transferred the number DCJ 15 to it from a Fordson tractor in the collection of the late William (“Bill”) Thomas Jones, who part owned the engine and recovered it from Ireland with his low loader.
As the images show, the Ransomes, which left the works in 1915 with the number 26839, has not been restored much in the last 40 years. It retains its steel wheels and so looks very much as it did in its earlier life. As a result, it is much appreciated at steam rallies, where other engines are often glistening with new paint and shiny brass.
We have used the engine to drive a circular saw and a threshing machine as it is very well governed with a Gardner governor.( According to Wikipedia, the Gardner Governor Company, founded by Robert Gardner, introduced the first effective speed controls for steam engines in 1859 with an innovation, known as the flyball governor). It makes a great noise when at work, but is slow on the road due to the lack of rubber tyres and springs.
At our steam events, it is a popular other half of a tug of war, though the visitors’ team find the courtyard gravel quite a disadvantage, but we will see how they get on this Sunday & Monday when the Ransomes will be out and on display in steam.
22nd May 2015
Nostalgia returns to Eastnor Castle, nr Ledbury for the May Bank Holiday, on Sunday 24th and Bank Holiday Monday 25th May with a Vintage Day of family fun.
An interesting line-up of working Steam-Engines will be on display in the courtyard in front of the castle, with a 100th birthday celebration for our Ransomes Sims & Jefferies agricultural engine and we will mark 40 years at Eastnor for our Foden tractor. Alongside will be a vintage carousel and chair swing, punch & judy, tea tent, garden games and live music.
James Hervey-Bathurst, Owner of Eastnor Castle said ” Our Ransomes is a very popular and solid half of the family tug of war, but it will also be running a threshing machine as it was designed to do in 1915. It is one of the few traction engines that has not been repainted since it’s preservation, and so it has a very authentic look. Other vintage vehicles, including a Stanley steam car, will be on display, and our showman’s living van will also be open to visitors. We look forward to a fun event”.
The usual castle attractions will also be open, including the new Land Rover Little Off Roaders and Rota Swing, Knight’s Maze, Burma Bridge Tree Top Walkway and Adventure Playgroud, Tearoom, Gift shop and Ice Cream Parlour.
Vintage Family Fun will be open from 11am to 5.30pm on both days and please click here to buy discounted tickets on-line.
Official opening by Elizabeth Hurley on Sunday at 12 noon in the Castle Courtyard
Now in it’s 4th year, the Chilli Festival at Eastnor Castle is back on Sunday 3rd and Bank Holiday Monday 4th May. This year, there will be over 50 stalls and entertainment, showcasing all things HOT!
The castle courtyard will be transformed into a Chilli Market and visitors will be able to try and buy delicious products such as chocolate, bread, cake, vodka, cocktails and chutney as well as grow-your-own chilli plants. There will also be a number of specialist hot food suppliers selling authentic Asian curries and other spicy foods.
Sarah Littlewood, Event Co-ordinator at the Castle (pictured) said:
“This year we are delighted to have local resident, actress and model Elizabeth Hurley opening our event on Sunday morning at 12pm.
One of our big Chillies has just arrived from an off-road journey across the Eastnor Estate into the castle courtyard and is hotting up for the big event. We are really thrilled with the success of our Chilli Festival as it has gained a huge following“.
There is a huge amount going on over the weekend with something for all chilli fans. Back by popular demand is the Clifton Chilli Club with their chilli shenanigans which includes our legendary chilli eating competition. Join local chefs Felice Tocchini, Rayeesa, Tom Court, Rob Swift and vegetarian specialist Lizzy in the cookery demonstrations marquee and children can join in Easy Peasy cookery school.
To create a real carnival atmosphere, there will be live musical entertainment from local Mexican band – Los Squideros from Hereford, joining them will be Andalus an authentic Gypsy Kings sounding band to entertain the crowds.
Plus all our usual attractions including the maze, new swing and Land Rover Little Off Roaders.
For further information and book discounted tickets click here.
The much-loved family treasure hunt here at Eastnor Castle, will be taking place over the Easter weekend every day from Good Friday 3rd April to Bank Holiday Monday 6th April between 11am and 5.30pm.
This years hunt is about work EGGsperience, the Easter chickens and bunnies will be dressed in their work wear and you will need to guess their chosen career!
The castle General Manager David Littlewood says “This is our favourite weekend of the year where local families come to Eastnor Castle to enjoy the annual treasure hunt and this year it’s all about our Easter Chickens and bunnies hard at work! We have lots of new and fun events planned for this summer as well as some new attractions including audio tours, a new swing and our Land Rover Little Off-Roaders. As part of our on-going relationship with Land Rover Experience, they have supplied us with 4 Little Off-Roaders and we have built them their own off-road track within the grounds. We hope this will be very popular with the children where they can practice their driving skills around a fun track”.
Ollie Lancett from Eastnor (pictured) in the Land Rover Off-Roader with an Easter Chicken as passenger ready for Easter opening!
Every child taking part in the EGGsperience Easter Hunt will win a chocolate treat and there will be a draw at the end of each day when one lucky family will win a giant chocolate egg in a basket! In addition, the Knight’s maze, Burma Bridge tree top walkway, junior assault course, mini zip wire, castle shop and tearoom will also be open throughout the weekend.
Eastnor Castle has won one of the prestigious 2015 Hudson’s Heritage Awards which were announced on Tuesday 3rd March. Eastnor Castle scooped the award in the Best Accommodation category. Established in 2011, the awards are an independently judged annual national scheme open to historic houses, gardens, museums and heritage sites and celebrate the very best visitor experience.
Dan Snow, historian and broadcaster, presented the awards at Goldsmiths Hall in London with around 100 guests including owners and managers of the winning entries.
Eastnor has 12 magnificent bedrooms which are available for groups who are hosting private parties, corporate events and weddings in the castle.
The judges were particularly impressed with the attention to detail and the fact that Eastnor has risen to the challenge of refurbishing a listed building by squeezing bathrooms into obsolete linen cupboards and disguised the lift. The addition of such lavish bedrooms has significantly increased the appeal of the house, particularly for weddings.
David Littlewood, General Manager said “We are delighted to have won a 2015 Hudson’s Heritage Award. Winning one of these awards demonstrates the high standards and commitment we offer our visitors to ensure their experience is the very best. Receiving this award is acknowledgement and recognition that Eastnor Castle is amongst the elite of heritage attractions in the UK”.
This is not a newly discovered adventure of the fictional schoolboy at Linbury Court preparatory school, as might have been written by the late Anthony Buckeridge, but a reference to one of our two surviving Victorian water closets supplied by George Jennings. In the first image Mick Woolley, our versatile contract plumber, and Bob Hayter, our also versatile joiner who is a member of our Works Department, stand over the WC after replacing a leaking valve and replacing perforated lead piping, which was allowing waste water to leak through the ceiling of the Red Hall below.
George Jennings is best known for supplying the WC’s for the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace in Kensington Gardens in 1851, where they were the first public conveniences. Over 800,000 people paid a penny to use them and started the expression “spend a penny”. He was a successful sanitary engineer, and his family firm lasted until 1967.
In the second image, a more detailed view of the WC is shown, with the patent valve on the left.
This one had a leather diaphragm, which had hardened over the years, cracked and started leaking water into the pan. After the valve was removed, I sent the valve for resotration to Phil Jefferies of Heritage Foot Pumps, Stafford, a business which has now sadly closed. In the meantime, Mick & Bob managed to find the leaking waste pipe, removed it after some difficulty and replace it with a modern plastic one. I was surprised that an original lead pipe would have leaked, but the final image shows the holes, which Mick blames on the use of modern cleaning agents.
The Jennings with its fine mahogany surround is now back in working order, a tribute to a fine Victorian sanitary engineer and to the skill and persistence of Mick & Bob. It remains an attractive-and convenient-feature of the the castle.