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: http://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.
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
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, http://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.
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.
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
THURSDAY 30TH: MOTORPOINT ARENA, CARDIFF
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.
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 http://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.
It is good to know, though I may not be around to see it when it happens.
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 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
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
Saturday 1st Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich London
Sunday 2nd Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich London
Tickets go on-sale at 10am 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: http://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.
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 http://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.
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 1990’s 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 use 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 play room (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.
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.
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.