We are delighted to announce that our ‘Charity of the Year 2019’ will be the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.

Now in its 3rd year, our Charity of the Year programme allows us to pledge support to a local charity in a number of ways including the use of the castle for a fundraising dinner, the use of the grounds for a family fun day, complimentary tickets, collection boxes at the visitor entrance and an open invitation to be present on any day we are open to visitors.

We were keen to support the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity after meeting them at our Eastnor SOS Day in June and hearing of the critical work they do throughout six Midlands counties, including Herefordshire.

David Littlewood, General Manager at Eastnor Castle, went to meet some of the Midlands Air Ambulance Team based at their Strensham airbase to see first-hand how donations from local businesses support the service they offer. He’s pictured here (3rd from left) with Dr David Balthazar, Pilot Tim Hutchins and Critical Care Paramedic Colin Apps.

 

He said: “We are thrilled to able to support the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity this year. We are in awe of the work that they do and had no idea that the charity receives no Government or National Lottery funding and relies solely on donations and fundraising. They need to raise in excess of £9 million each year to operate and we hope that we’re not only able to contribute in some way towards this, but that we can also help to raise their profile amongst our visitors. We’ve already met with the team and are excited about working together on a number of events throughout the year.”

Mary Seldon, Fundraising Executive for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity in Herefordshire added: “Midlands Air Ambulance Charity relies solely on donations from local businesses and the general public, to undertake around 2,000 air ambulance missions every year. We’re so grateful to Eastnor Castle for choosing to support us this year, as it will help to raise vital funds and awareness in the local area. We’re really excited to partner with such a stunning visitor attraction.”

Details of the events being arranged here by the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity are still being finalised but will be announced soon… Stay tuned to our social channels!

 

5th December 2018 
By Becky & Jodie 

As we’re waking up to regular frosts on the ground now and winter has definitely set in, it got us thinking about what makes a winter wedding so special. Here are our top tips for why a winter wedding is a smart choice!

Don’t worry about the weather…

Let’s face it, if you plan a winter wedding, the chances are that you’re not going to be able to spend your entire drinks reception outside having photos taken and mingling with your guests. It’s probably going to be cold. Although this shrieks alarm bells for many, just have a little think about how much time the average couple spends checking the weather forecast and praying for dry, warm weather in the lead up to their wedding, and think about how better you can spend that time!

Just assume it’s going to be cold. Anything warmer will be a bonus, right?! The good news is that we’ve got the indoor wedding thing all covered here so there’s no need to worry about back up plans; we’ve got plenty of space inside to conduct your whole wedding, from the morning preparations to the evening celebrations… it can all happen inside a warm cosy castle with no need to step a foot outside unless you want to!

Bring on the romance…

Winter weddings are undeniably romantic. That dusk light and pinky-orange glow to the sky make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. Add some open fires, candles and lanterns into the mix and you’re suddenly living the winter wedding dream. A dusting of fresh snow too (disclaimer – we can’t promise this, sorry)… and yes you get the idea, it’s all about creating the magical Winter Wonderland scenes worthy of a Pinterest prize!

Availability…

It’s all about supply and demand with winter weddings. They’re just not as popular at summer weddings so use this to your advantage when negotiating with suppliers. Venues and suppliers will have more dates available in the winter so don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or special deal… most suppliers will be glad of the winter work when it’s normally quiet so will welcome the booking at a discounted rate. Some venues, us included, offer a discount for holding your wedding mid-week too so take a look at those dates between Christmas and New Year when the majority of your guests will be off work meaning a full guest list at a less-than-normal rate!

Decorations…

Who doesn’t love a glorious, twinkling Christmas tree?! Every year, around the beginning of December, we create all the festive vibes when a 20ft Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree arrives in the magnificent Great Hall and is professionally decorated with baubles and lights to within an inch of its life. Add in some super festive garlands down the stunning staircase and glorious festoons above the fireplace and you’ve suddenly got yourself a fully-decorated venue! Apart from some simple table centrepieces and candles which you can provide on a minimal budget, you’re good to go!

Food…

Two words… Hearty Food! Sometimes the heat of a summer wedding can impinge on the appetite of your guests. At a winter wedding, your guests will appreciate a delicious, hearty menu. The menus at Eastnor Castle are designed in collaboration with the happy couple and cooked by our talented in-house chefs, using locally sourced produce. Popular winter menus include Fillet of Herefordshire Beef, Rack of Welsh Lamb and Cotswold Chicken Supreme. A firm favourite for evening food is the traditional hog roast served on the Upper Terrace next to a roaring fire pit! Is your mouth watering yet?

 

If nothing else, your winter wonderland wedding will always be remembered, your wedding day will stand out from all the others held during the spring or summer and provide your guests with a reason (other than snow and Christmas!) to be excited about winter!

Find out more about Winter Weddings at Eastnor Castle or call us on 01531 633160 to arrange a viewing.

 

Elf House Making & Broomstick Building, Giant Leaf Pile Kicking & Conker Collecting… Eastnor Castle Gets Kids Outside with Magical Events

The fact that the castle nestles on the fringes of the Malvern Hills, the landscape that inspired Tolkien’s Middle Earth, ensures a fairy tale visit in its own right. However, we’ve added to the magic for children and adults alike with two magical autumn events this September. What’s more, the dog can come along too as we welcome our furry friends in all areas of the castle and grounds.

Autumn Antics – Sunday 23rd September

There’s no need to travel to New England to see spectacular displays of Autumn foliage. Our Breath-taking arboretum and tree trail is a testament to the Victorian’s passion for creating exotic gardens based on worldly travels.

Children are encouraged to climb the trees, dive into giant piles of leaves and collect conkers and cones to their heart’s content.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust will also be on hand to teach elf-house making and also hands-on lessons in pressing apples to make your own apple juice.

Broomstick Making & Racing – Sunday 30th September

Don’t miss the castle’s last Open Day of 2018 – it’s going to be spell binding. Budding witches and wizards can attend broomstick-making classes against the enchanted backdrop of Eastnor Castle and then take part in broomstick races and zoom off around the grounds hunting for clues in a magical treasure hunt.

Both of these events are included in the entrance prices alongside the collection of permanent attractions which include a maze, adventure playground, tree-top walkway, woodland play area, rope-swings, tree trails and lakeside walks. Opening times are 10.30am until 5.30pm and prices are Adults: £7.00, Children: £5.00, Families: £20.00 (Grounds only admission, castle upgrades are available. Online ticket prices shown, tickets cost more on the gate).

FIND OUT MORE AND BUY TICKETS

As mentioned in an earlier blog, this is a useful phrase, with a respectable pedigree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_wrong_type_of_snow   and it can certainly be applied to the snow we had last week. After two days of fine snow and wind ie blizzards, this pile of snow was found under the roof over our Pugin bedroom, luckily just as the thaw set in.

We do not have one of those vacuum cleaners that suck up water and so presumably are also fit for snow. Anyway, if we did, it would probably suck up the fibreglass insulation as well, so we use traditional methods: hand shovel and black plastic bags. Anthony Marriott, one of our house managers and the one who detected the tell-tale drip, and I lit the roof space with a bright lamp and set about scooping up the snow and bagging it up to be disposed of for melting outside. If it melts under the roof, it can bring down a ceiling or at least make a mess of the paintwork. An hour and a half later (there were other piles elsewhere) it was all gone, and we had managed not to step between any rafters and damage the ceiling below in a more forceful way.

The photograph not only shows the offending snow, but also the cast iron roof trusses designed by the castle architect, Robert Smirke. The slates rest on cast iron purlins and are held in place by nails. It is a system that has survived the test of time, but unfortunately the seal between the slates or torching as described here: https://great-home.co.uk/repairing-torching-on-a-roof/  has long dropped off, and we have not replaced it, allowing, as an architect might say, the ingress of  snow. If we had the wrong type of snow every winter, I would think about it.

James Hervey-Bathurst

4th March 2018

The heavy snow produced a magical and seasonal appearance to the landscape, and the lake froze over. We cleared the drive before anyone slipped off the road and drove into the yew hedge, which was already under a lot of pressure from the weight of snow, which, at least for the natural world, was definitely the “wrong kind”: see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_wrong_type_of_snow

 

 

Sadly, our cedars and other confers suffered heavily as the weight of snow broke boughs off close to the trunk. All night we could hear cracks and crashes as they came down. Other trees, such as the magnolia in our garden, suffered too, but not as badly.

 

In a well-timed visit, however, Martin Gardner, Co-ordinator of the International Conifer Conservation Programme at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, https://www.rbge.org.uk/science/genetics-and-conservation/martin-gardners-homepage appeared yesterday with a supply of young specimen trees from seeds taken from native trees under threat. They included firs from Turkey (Abies Nordmanniana) and a critically-endangered Notofagus Alessandrii from Chile. They will be very welcome additions to our stock and will be carefully planted out as soon as the snow clears.

On a different note, a team of men has been clearing the snow from the valleys on the roof to allow the water to run off unimpeded when the snow melts. In the case of the roof, it has been the right kind of snow as it is the powder kind that blows in between the slates and causes trouble to our interiors.

James Hervey-Bathurst
19th December 2017

 

MICHAEL BALL AND ALFIE BOE ANNOUNCE ‘TOGETHER AGAIN’ TOUR DATES FOR 2017

Following the stunning success of their Platinum selling album ‘Together’ and 29 sold out shows across the UK in 2016, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe have announced today that they will return in 2017 for a selection of exclusive dates throughout the country.

Summer will see them performing outdoors at some of the UK’s most beautiful stately homes and castles, with six dates announced in June. In winter, they’ll come back inside to play ten arena dates in November and December.

Tickets for all dates go on sale on Friday December 16th at 10am from www.livenation.co.uk and www.gigsandtours.com. VIP Hospitality and Meet & Greet packages are also available to purchase via VIP Nation.

JUNE 2017
SUNDAY 18TH: EASTNOR CASTLE, LEDBURY
TUESDAY 20TH: WALCOT HALL, SHREWSBURY
WEDNESDAY 21ST: STANSTEAD PARK, CHICHESTER
SATURDAY 24TH: EUSTON HALL, THETFORD
SUNDAY 25TH: LINCOLN CASTLE, LINCOLD
WEDNESDAY 28TH: OPEN AIR THEATRE, SCARBOROUGH

NOVEMBER 2017
THURSDAY 30TH: MOTORPOINT ARENA, CARDIFF

DECEMBER 2017
SATURDAY 2ND: CENTRE, BRIGHTON
SUNDAY 3RD: INTERNATIONAL CENTRE, BOURNEMOUTH
TUESDAY 5TH: GENTING ARENA, BIRMINGHAM
THURSDAY 7TH: ARENA, MANCHESTER
FRIDAY 8TH: FIRST DIRECT ARENA, LEEDS
SUNDAY 10TH: SSE HYDRO, GLASGOW
MONDAY 11TH: AECC, ABERDEEN
WEDNESDAY 13TH: MOTORPOINT ARENA, NOTTINGHAM
THURSDAY 14TH: O2 ARENA, LONDON

Having first met 10 years ago, performing together in ‘Kismet’ at the London Coliseum, Michael and Alfie became lifelong friends. That same year, Michael Ball made history as the first musical theatre star to be given a solo concert at the Royal Albert Hall’s BBC Proms, and asked Alfie Boe to join him to perform at the classical music festival.

This instant personal connection and professional mutual admiration makes for the perfect pairing and, to the delight of their hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, has been finally realised with the Decca-­released ‘Together’ to spectacular success. The album has gone Platinum in just 6 weeks and is on track to become the biggest selling domestic release of 2016!

Michael and Alfie say, ‘There are simply no words for how incredible this is for us. We have always wanted to work together, it was just a case of getting the timing right. We are so grateful to all our fans who have supported us and everyone involved for believing in us. We are literally having the best time and are so happy with the success of the album and the tour’.

The two critically-­acclaimed artists have received a plethora of prestigious awards, recordbreaking sales and chart successes. Over his extraordinary 30 year career, Michael’s outstanding performances have made smash-­hit box office history. He is a double Olivier Award winner, multi-­platinum recording artist, top selling live concert performer and a hugely popular radio and TV presenter. Alfie’s exceptional voice has made him Britain’s most popular and biggest-­selling tenor He has conquered the world’s greatest opera stages and arenas, led the cast of Les Misérables, stole the show at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace– as well achieving UK album sales of over a million, and four top ten albums.

Tickets are on-sale from 10am on Friday 16th December and are available from www.livenation.co.uk and www.gigsandtours.com.

 

 

Our lake is an important feature in the landscape and was made by blocking up two streams once the old house, Castleditch, was demolished in 1818. A few years ago, we had to restore the weir and did so with the help of English Heritage, now Historic England, and the Country Houses Foundation, but this time we have been on our own, as it were.

 

The first image shows Tony Mckenna and his team from AES Europe https://www.aeseurope.co.uk/ Corby, in the process of hanging netting along the south bank where wave action over the years has severely undermined the bank, causing soil, trees etc to fall into the lake and making the edge unstable. The AES system, also used by the National Trust, will encourage the growth of vegetation to stabilise the bank over the period when the netting is still in place and after a couple of years, we are assured, the bank will look quite natural. If it works, we will extend the protection to other affected areas.

 

The second image shows Rob Shail and his team adopting a more structural approach using gabions to strengthen the all-important bund that blocks the valley in which the lake lies. This work is being done with guidance of a structural engineer, Mark Hayward, of Fairhurst https://www.wafairhurst.co.uk/ to comply with the requirements of the Reservoirs Act 1975. The bund has also been undermined and has had tree stumps threatening to weaken it further. When finished, we are told that the lake should be able to survive a once in 1000 years “event” ie a very big lot of rain, as we had on 19th July 2007 when it was a once in 250 years’ event with 150mm or 6” of rain.

 

It is good to know, though I may not be around to see it when it happens.

 

James Hervey-Bathurst
6th December 2016

SIR CLIFF RICHARD JUST FABULOUS ROCK ‘n’ ROLL UK 2017 TOUR

Legendary Singer To Play A Series Of Fully Seated Outdoor Concerts In Intimate Arenas Built Especially For Sir Cliff And His Fans

Support Act To Be Announced

To celebrate the release of his incredible new album “Just…Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll“, the UK’s most successful hit-maker, Cliff Richard, will be heading out on a summer tour of the UK’s most beautiful castles and historic locations in 2017 for a series of fully seated outdoor concerts in fabulous intimate arenas, built especially for Cliff Richard and his fans. Tickets will go on general sale on Monday 14th November from www.livenation.co.uk

 

Cliff has returned to his roots to record an album of his favourite songs from the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll. These include Cliff’s renditions of seminal tracks such as Roll Over Beethoven, Great Balls of Fire, Sweet Little Sixteen and his very own debut single, Move It. The album also features a duet with fellow idol Elvis Presley on Blue Suede Shoes. This has been a career-long dream of Cliff’s, which now becomes a reality. The new release follows the huge success of his last studio album, ‘The Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll Songbook’ in 2013, and the celebratory ’75 at 75 – 75 Career Spanning Hits’ in 2015.

Cliff released his debut single Move It in August 1958. It is credited with being the first British rock ‘n’ roll hit, bringing what had previously been an American genre across the Atlantic, for the first time. ‘Just… Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll’ will, astonishingly, be his 102nd album.

The ‘Just Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour’ will stop by the following UK venues through June and July 2017:

 SIR CLIFF RICHARD JUST FABULOUS ROCK ‘n’ ROLL UK 2017 TOUR With support to be announced 

 JUNE
Saturday 17th               Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire
Sunday 18th                  Stansted Park, Hampshire
Wednesday 21st           Walcot Hall, Shropshire
Thursday 22nd              Catton Hall, Derbyshire
Saturday 24th                Lincoln Castle, Lincolnshire
Sunday 25th                   Euston Hall, Suffolk
Wednesday 28th            Harewood House, Leeds
Thursday 29th               Open Air Theatre, Scarborough

JULY
Saturday 1st                  Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich London
Sunday 2nd                    Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich London

Tickets go on sale at 10 am on Monday 14th November (subject to per-ticket charge plus order processing fee) and are available from www.livenation.co.uk

For more information head to CLIFFRICHARD.ORG

LIMITED CAMPING IS AVAILABLE IN THE EASTNOR DEER PARK CAMPSITE FOR THE CLIFF RICHARD CONCERT

We have been restoring Clencher’s Mill, a watermill near the edge of the estate off the Glynch Brook. It was bought in about 1700 and has medieval origins. It was modernised in 1812 and redundant after 1939.

Most of the original mechanical equipment has survived and has been put back into working order with the help of a number of grants, referred to in more detail in my earlier blog, but one vital machine was missing, namely the bolter, perhaps not unexpectedly given one alternative meaning for its name. When in place, its job is to separate the meal ie the ground wheat that comes out of the millstones and consists of flour and bran. Some mills just supplied wholemeal ie the mixture, but there is clear evidence that we had a bolter at our mill as certain elements remained.

Rather than have a new one made, we looked for an old one. Alan Stoyel from the SPAB: https://www.spab.org.uk/spab-mills-section/ identified one at Wormbridge Mill, near Hereford, which had closed in about 1900. It was still in place, and the owner, a good friend of ours, was happy to part with it as all the rest of the equipment had already been removed, probably for scrap. It did not quite fit through the door and needed quite a bit of wood replacing, which was undertaken by John Churchill of Burns & Churchill in Ledbury. It was also narrowed to fit.

 Eastnor Grounds workers

The images show John, with Steve Howick, our project manager and dedicated volunteer, and Adam Marriott, our millwright, taking a break from fitting new parts and talking to Norman Walker, a retired gamekeeper who used to live at Wormbridge Mill and who remembers the bolter and rest of the mill machinery in place. He was glad to see it being restored and put back to work, though there is some way to go before fine bolted flour is available for baking.

We have also recently had the benefit of a visit by John Brandrick a great expert in the matter of recording mill structures and machinery. His skills in the art of technical drawings are clearly evident in the picture below which allows us to see in one view all aspects of the mill.  John’s work is of exceptional quality and more can be viewed on his very informative website at   https://milldrawings.com/

The team has made excellent progress and seems to have enjoyed the job so far. We hope to be ready when the mill has an open day on 14th May at 10.30am.

JH-B
21st February 2016

Electricity first arrived at Eastnor in 1910 when a generator was installed where the Land Rover Experience centre is now. It was used to power 110-volt lighting circuits, some of which survived until a couple of years ago when we had the chandelier in the Pugin Gothic Drawing Room rewired, not before time, we were told. The old bulbs, with their robust tungsten filaments, produce some light and quite a bit of welcome heat, so they were still fit for purpose if supplemented by more modern lights at a lower level.

We have rewired gradually, introducing three-phase in the 1990s and a stand-by generator, acquired second hand from a local authority, to keep the lights on during power cuts. But the demand for power has risen, with multiple and simultaneous uses of hair driers, more by wedding guests than by my wife and daughters, and the installation of a new electric oven, a ten rack Rationale, in the catering kitchen. I admit I have also caught my younger children using an electric fire occasionally in their draughty playroom (my mother used to hide electric fires and reserve them for guest use only).

Our last distribution board has run out of capacity, so we are installing a new Hager model to meet ongoing needs. The image shows Justin Hill and Jason Blewitt working on the two-day job. The mains and generator supplies are switched off, of course, but there is a temporary generator to supply light and my laptop and office. Justin and his father, Michael, fitted the original distribution board when the three-phase came in. The house is unnaturally quiet, apart from the plaintive squeaking of the fire alarm system telling us the power is off. The emergency lighting has worked for the statutory time required and is now rather dim. I am using a head torch to access areas away from natural light. Most of the staff have a day off, though calls are being diverted to the Estate Office. It will be a relief to have the job done and to have a safer system with more capacity.

 

 

JH-B

5th February 2016

In the image, from left to right, are Peter Walker, Stephen Price and Robin Whittaker who have been previously involved in the Worcestershire County Archives, Robin having just retired as the County Archivist, and Hazel Lein, the archivist at Eastnor. The gentlemen, with guidance and assistance from Hazel, have just complete 5 years’ work, at a rate of about one day a month, sifting through and cataloguing deeds that cover among others, land, in the parishes of s of Stoulton, Bransford, Leigh, Castlemorton and Strensham, where our family owned land until it was mostly sold at the beginning of the last century. The reason given for the sale was that the houses and farms had suffered from underinvestment in previous 40 years partly as a result of the Agricultural Depression and probably also because the family diverted the money to other purposes and were not fit to let. They could also make more money by selling off the land to developers especially in the area of the new town of Malvern Link, hence the road names like Somers Park Avenue and Somers Road.

It has been a sometimes slow but for these historians a very exciting task. The original deeds that were still wrapped in the solicitor’s bundles had been placed in six large cupboards in the muniment room. Many of the deeds antedate our ownership of the properties concerned, as well as covering important manorial records. Some of the documents are mediaeval, most on vellum and often the lingua franca seems to be Latin, which Robin can read with ease. But he modestly asserts that that is quite normal for a man of his profession.

They have recorded 3500 items from 67 archive boxes. They have cleaned, sorted indexed and placed everyone in archive quality boxes. They have found deeds relating to various subjects such as houses in Worcester and Droitwich as well as land sold to build Malvern Link Station. There are records of the Worcester Yeomanry’s formation during the Napoleonic Wars, and include a note of a consignment of cutlasses being returned to the Tower of London, then an arsenal, because they were rusty. Attacking an invading Frenchman with a rusty weapon would clearly have been bad for our reputation and possibly not very effective.

Peter, Stephen & Robin have enjoyed the task and been genuinely excited by the chance to view documents that have not seen the light of day for several hundred years. We could not have had a more eminent, knowledgeable, group of experts. Hazel is thrilled to see the project complete, but will miss the fun and the ad hoc tutorials! A note of what we hold will go to the County Archive, and we will allow scholars and other interested parties to inspect the papers on certain conditions. We are very grateful to the team for completing the job.

James Hervey-Bathurst
January 2016

After our review of what has happened in the 2015 visitor season, when we had about 42,000 through the gates, we have decided to change the layout of our shop and ice cream parlour. Here is an image of Andy Rollins, Andy Thornber and Bob Hayter from our Works Department at the slightly easier demolition stage of the project. They are fitting the work in around the refurbishment of the old Post Office, an attractive building with a thatched roof, at the main entrance to the Castle and Grounds. The new floors went in earlier this week, so there is no access while they are setting.

Buying ice creams and souvenirs is an essential part of the visitor experience, and it now makes sense to combine them by knocking down the temporary partition wall between the two areas. The aim will be to encourage a flow of visitors between the two outlets and streamline the operation while making it easier for visitors to access.

Ice creams sell in almost any weather, but the right sort of sun certainly helps. The parlour is conveniently situated on the way to the playground and to the tea room. We staff it with young people keen for seasonal work. Our shop, which is run by Rachel, who otherwise helps with our in-house catering, is a more complicated business, but not weather dependent. We stock some Eastnor Castle branded souvenirs, post cards and other gifts. At one time we also included remaindered books, which sold rather well, but I think Amazon may have taken that market.

We re-open at Easter when these adjustments will be put to the test. I am confident there will be an improvement, and it will not just be attributable to the weather.

James Hervey-Bathurst
December 2015

Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland over the Bank Holiday weekend with a specially designed family treasure hunt in the fairytale castle and grounds. The event will take place on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August.

Visitors will follow in Alice’s footsteps and use a Wonderland map to navigate around the March Hare’s House, The Queen’s Croquet Ground, The Duchess’s House and the Rabbit Hole to find a number of curiosities, solve the riddles and win a prize. There will also be a Mad Hatter’s tea tent with entertainment throughout the day, including garden games for children of all ages.

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 the Castle & Grounds are Adults: £10.00, Children: £6.50 and a Family Ticket (2+3) is priced at £26.50. Discounted tickets are available on-line.

Further details are available on the Eastnor Castle website: www.eastnorcastle.com or call 01531 633160.

20th August 2015

 

Please kindly note that the A438 which runs past the entrance of Eastnor Castle will be closed from 17th to 21st August. There is no access to the Castle through Hollybush; the best way to approach is from the A449. There are ‘Road Closed’ signs at the turning onto the A438 but access is still available to Eastnor Castle. Please call us on 01531 633160 if you need any further information.

 

We have made the decision this morning to cancel our Exotic Animals week following feedback posted on our Facebook page.

The Exotic Animal week has always been very well received at Eastnor and was based around educating our visitors about these animals and highlighting the associated conservation issues they face.

However, the enjoyment and safety of our visitors is paramount and on advice received from external agencies we have decided to cancel the event.

We are very sorry to all our visitors who were expecting to attend the Exotic Animal week and anyone who has purchased on-line tickets will be refunded in full.

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 at that time.

Sarah working in the eastnor officeWhen 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. Overall this time, she was responsible for producing our print run of annual leaflets for distribution around the area into campsites, 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 Partnership 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 uploaded, 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.

JH-B
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!

JH-B
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 were 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.

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.

James Hervey-Bathurst
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.

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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”.

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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 wastewater 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 restoration 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 castle.

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We have been dealing with Mintons for some time as they are a relatively local firm who supply us
with soft drinks etc..  In this image, Russell Grimmer is seen as he delivers a few cases of Belvoir Fruit Farms ‘Elderflower Pressé for consumption at weddings and other events, where it is a very popular alternative to Coca Cola and mineral water.

 

Belvoir Elderflower Pressé was developed by my late father-in-law about 30 years ago when we successfully tried to reproduce an elderflower drink he had been given as a child.  Somehow, the old recipe had survived and after the family had been drafted into harvesting elderflower from the hedges and woods around Belvoir, the cordial was produced.  He and my mother-in-law then brewed up enough to allow them to take it to numerous country fairs so it could be tested on members of the public, who were encouraged to comment on the taste so that it could be refined to satisfy the palate of the majority before production began in earnest in redundant farm buildings.

My brother-in-law now runs the business and he has expanded it considerably, adding new products and markets.  We make a very modest contribution to his sales efforts by supplying Belvoir Fruit Farms’ products at Eastnor, and my younger daughters are looking forward to selling some at our Chilli Festival on 3rd & 4th May this year.

 

Celebrating 20 years of Castle weddings – Discount on Exclusive Hire Fee

In 2015, Eastnor Castle is celebrating 20 years as a licensed wedding venue and is keen to hear from as many couples as possible who have tied the knot at Eastnor since 1995.

Changes to the Marriage Act in 1994 allowed marriages to be solemnized in certain ‘approved premises’. Prior to the act, marriage ceremonies could only be conducted in churches and register offices. Eastnor Castle was one of the first approved premises in Herefordshire and was granted a license to host wedding ceremonies and partnerships in November 1995. Since then Eastnor has gained a reputation as one of the UK’s most impressive and sought after venues.

To mark this important anniversary, the Castle team is asking couples to make contact through the Eastnor Castle Weddings Facebook page (facebook.com/eastnorcastleweddings) and to post images and favourite memories of their special day. An on-line photo album will be compiled so that past brides and grooms can share their memories with other couples, their friends and families. A new website blog will also be created in 2015, with regular posts and interviews with brides, suppliers and staff who have been involved with Eastnor weddings since 1995.

In addition and as part of this very special twenty years celebration, Eastnor is appropriately reducing its venue fee by 20% for all new weddings booked and held at the castle in 2015.

“In the 21st century it is easy to keep in contact with our customers” explained General Manager, David Littlewood. “However, before the days of social media, email and other digital communication, it was much harder and we have therefore lost contact with many couples who had their wedding day at Eastnor. We hope that our Facebook campaign will encourage people from all over the world to get back in touch and share their wedding day memories”

See our wedding rates page for more information or get in touch to book a showround.

Exciting news to celebrate 20 years of weddings at Eastnor Castle in 2015 we are offering 20% discount off the exclusive hire fee on weddings booked this year.

Accommodation for Cheltenham Festival: 10th – 13th March 2015

Eastnor Castle near Ledbury, an exclusive hire castle with 12 beautiful guest bedrooms and dramatically situated in a 5000 acre estate on the border of Gloucestershire, is available for private groups to hire during the Cheltenham Festival Race Week.

Our exclusive package includes:

Dinner, Bed & Breakfast (minimum of 10 guests – 3 night minimum stay)
Exclusive use of Eastnor Castle
3 course dinner in the State Dining Room
Overnight accommodation
Full English breakfast
£320.00 per person per night (excluding VAT)

Private transfers by road (40 minutes) or by helicopter (15 minutes) can also be arranged at an additional cost.

Please see our website for more details of our stunning castle.

Contact Nicky Cullity for details:

Telephone: +44 1531 633160
Email: nicky@eastnorcastle.com