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.

Facebook Link Twitter Link Pinterest Link


 

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”.

Facebook Link Twitter Link Pinterest Link


 

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

 

Jools Holland returned to play in the Park last Saturday.  His guest stars included Marc Almond, Mel C and Ruby Turner.  Ticket sales accelerated as the date approached, and the weather kept fine.  We now have a Public Entertainment Licence for events for up to 10,000 people, so the process of arranging it all was made much easier.  

                   

The evening started well as everyone arrived well in advance and the access and parking arrangements worked better than in the past.   Jools himself was certainly on time and played with great brilliance, energy and enthusiasm.  The ominous black cloud that appeared over the site deposited some rain, but luckily not too much.  By the time I had gone back to the house to collect umbrellas, it had stopped.  If I had not gone, no doubt it would have continued.

A gap was left in front of the stage, and once the music started, it quickly filled up.  Grass is not the ideal dancing surface, though better than mud, but that did not stop the evening developing into a happy giant disco.  As the acts warmed up, so the crush increased, and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Jools commented afterwards that Eastnor had provided a great audience, which must be what the performers want.  They certainly gave their best, and we look forward to having them back before too long.

JH-B   1 August 2014 

 

 

Illyria’s outdoor theatre returns to Eastnor Castle on Sunday 10th August with yet another Roald Dahl classic ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’.  Following their enormous success and sell-out tour, Illyria return with a show full of larger-than-life characters, plenty to join in with and just a twist of malicious fun!

It is the first day of half-term, Grandma is coming to stay, and George is going to have to give   

up his bedroom for her.  It wouldn’t be so bad if Grandma were a nice Grandma.  But George’s Grandma is horrible.  “George do this!  George do that!”  “George, is it time for my medicine?”  What’s the point of taking medicine, George wonders, when it’s not doing her any good, and it certainly isn’t making her any nicer?  So he decides to concoct his own medicine for Grandma which he gives Grandma on a spoon – with hilarious results!  The performance is guaranteed to send you through the roof!

The performance will be on the lower terrace overlooking the lake at 3 pm, gates open at 2 pm.  Approximately 1hr 35mins (including a 20 mins interval).  Please bring your own seating/rug, warm clothes and a picnic.  Soft drinks and ice cream will be available.

Please click here to book tickets.

 

Only just a few weeks ago we received a filming enquiry with the following brief:

Blinkbox wanted a castle for a marketing campaign for Season 4 of Game of Thrones.  They would like to hold a genuine wedding in the style of the hugely popular TV show, Game of Thrones.  The event will consist of a one day photography shoot at the location followed by a genuine wedding ceremony for one lucky couple inside the location.

Taylor Herring, the company behind the campaign for Game of Thrones season 3 had 35’000’000 million hits on Twitter within 48hrs of it going live!

I googled Game of Thrones and I was still none the wiser, I am not a fan, but have since found out it has a real cult following for this fantasy bloodthirsty show.

Eastnor Castle fitted the brief and the crew arrived last Thursday.  The wedding ceremony took place on Friday with a local couple from Hereford.  It was all about the make-up, costumes, wolves and a white horse!  All quite surreal in a strange way, Nick our groundsman had a bit of a surprise when he came up the drive on his tractor to be confronted by 2 wolves guarding the courtyard.  (The ‘wolves’ were only 25% wolf, but certainly looked the part and could not bark).  He managed to take these pictures on his phone.  

See link for the short film.   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2676260/It-just-like-marrying-Jon-Snow-Game-Of-Thrones-fans-tie-knot-ceremony-inspired-bloodthirsty-complete-growling-dogs-horses-castle.html#v-3653282020001

Articles

Hereford Times

Huffington Post

Western Daily Press

Metro Radio

Daily Star

BBC

Glamour Magazine

by Sarah Roberts


The much loved CBeebies character ‘Tree Fu Tom’ will be taking a break from his adventures in Treetopolis to come to Eastnor Castle on Sunday 29th June.

Come along and meet and greet ‘Tree Fu Tom’ who will be making personal appearances at intervals throughout the day in the castle courtyard.  Bring your cameras for a photo opportunity with your little ones.

“This should be a really exciting day for any young Tree Fu Tom fans as they will get to see this magical superhero in person in the castle courtyard” said David Littlewood, General Manager.

All the usual castle attractions will be open, including the Knight’s Maze, full-size-play Land Rover Defender, mini Zip Wire, Burma Bridge Tree Top Walk Way and Adventure Playground, Tearoom, Gift Shop and Ice Cream Parlour.

Open from 11am to 4.30pm and admission is Castle & Grounds – to buy tickets click here.

 

 

We held our vintage day over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend and attracted over 3000 visitors over 2 days.  Although we do not aspire to compete with the great vintage weekend at Goodwood, The Goodwood Revival; we invite a reasonable range of historic vehicles along and the variety appeals to our public.  We received a generous review afterwards on Trip Advisor, which was very nice.

It is certainly not a festival of speed either, rather the opposite, with steam and diesel rollers (max speed perhaps 5mph), a Foden 5 ton wagon (max speed not much more) and a large traction engine, a re-import from Tasmania, and my Ransomes Sims & Jefferies 1915 8 3/4 ton agricultural traction engine, which was spontaneously pressed into work shown in the image.  The tug of war is always popular as it is, at least on one side, a team game, with simple rules and little need for fitness and training, in fact, being slightly overweight may help.  There are 3 pulls, and this time the engine was beaten 2:1.  In an earlier competition, one or two visitors slipped on the gravel, not a ‘fair’ surface on which to compete, though it is a level playing field in the strict sense, and there were some grazed knees, but luckily not this time.

Other exhibits included the estate Morris 28hp petrol lorry, an Austin 7, a Stanley steam car, two living and one showman’s vans and hand-driven carousel.  There was a guest appearance from a Mini club, with some fine traditional Minis and a few spun-off designs.   My own Foden 6 to the steam tractor was not available as it is still away recovering from the fitting of a majorly repaired boiler, the first since new in 1928.  I hope it will be the star of the show next year.

J H-B   14 June ’14

Looking at Eastnor Castle through the Portcullis

I would like to think that Eastnor Castle, our grounds and children’s playground were enough to keep our visitors happy and generally they are, but on the more popular days at Bank Holidays, we feel we should do more and so we hire the services of Jem Maynard Watts and his colleagues Thomas Trilby.

As the visitors arrive in the car park, Jem appears on stilts and in appropriate clothing to greet them.  He may briefly convince children that he is a giant resident in the Castle, but mostly he chats to everyone and makes them laugh, important if there is a queue.  As the day progresses, he comes down a peg and bicycles around on a penny farthing, of modern manufacture, unfortunately, but nevertheless impressive.

At the end of the day, when there has been a competition, Jem draws the prize, but not before he has had a good juggle with one of his colleagues, an unexpected bonus for the audience and some compensation for the competitors who did not win ie. all but one.  He always gets a great round of applause, partly, of course, because he is a great entertainer.  He has a great sense of humour and is keenly interested to know how he is being received by the crowd.  He also tells us what the visitors tell him about their visit, where they have come from etc..  Jem helps create a party atmosphere around the castle, and we love having him.

JH-B  6th May ’14

 

Now in its 3rd year, the Chilli Festival at Eastnor Castle, is back on Sunday 4th and Bank Holiday Monday 5th 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.

David Littlewood, General Manager at Eastnor Castle said “We are really thrilled with the success of our Chilli Festival and it has gained a huge following.  The Clifton Chilli Club are back by popular demand this year, hosting the Chilli eating competition for anyone brave enough to join in.

Our Head Groundsman, Nick Robinson (pictured) who grows his own chillies, will be taking part in the competition to see if he can better his 3rd place last year”.

In our cookery theatre, Thai chef Suree Coates, from Shropshire who is chef of the year semi-finalist and has her own restaurant ‘The King and Thai’ will be demonstrating her authentic cookery skills;  Marina Ibrahim will be showing visitors how to make delicious Egyptian mezze and Italian chef Felice Tocchini.  Younger visitors will be well catered for with the Easy Peasy Children’s Cookery Theatre.

 

To create a real carnival atmosphere, there will be live musical entertainment from local Mexican band – Los Squideros from Hereford, joining them will be One Island Steel Band to entertain the crowds.

 

Admission prices and book tickets click here.

 

The much-loved family treasure hunt at Eastnor Castle will be taking place over the Easter weekend every day between Good Friday 18th April and Bank Holiday Monday 21st April between 11 am and 4.30pm.

This year the event marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and to commemorate the heroes, we invite families to take part in our Hunt for Heroes.  We need you to search for the brave bunnies and chickens around the castle and grounds, solve the clues and you may be a lucky winner of a giant chocolate egg!

David Littlewood, Castle General Manager 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 we are going back in time to World War 1!  W has lots of new and exciting events planned for this summer and we have a new full-size play Land Rover Defender and mini zip wire”.

Every child taking part in the Easter Hunt for Heroes 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!

 

On Monday 24th March Eastnor Castle played host to The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award 4×4 Challenge Event.

Supporters from across the world were given the opportunity to take part in each section of the Award through an exhilarating Land Rover 4×4 Challenge which included a driving experience, extreme physical activities, team building games and inspiring community participation projects.

Hosted by Eastnor Castle and Jaguar Land Rover, the experience began in London, where guests were collected and driven to Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire. With its thirty miles of test track, Eastnor is an important tool in the research and development of new Land Rovers. Guests had the opportunity to test out the vehicles, as well as experiencing other high adrenaline activities and the breath-taking 5,000 acres of the Eastnor Castle estate, gaining an insight into how it feels to be an Award participant. 

Guests were joined for the event by HRH the Earl of Wessex, Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. To replicate the Service element of the Award, the group carried out projects for Eastnor School and Eastnor Church.

James Hervey-Bathurst, owner of Eastnor Castle commented “We were delighted to have The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award at Eastnor. The guests were an impressive group and heavily committed to the Award. They were obviously having a good time facing the challenges we were able to lay on for them. We hope they will come back”.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (the Award) is open to all 14-24-year-olds, regardless of their background. The Award is about personal development not a competition with others. It enables young people to learn practical and social skills that are valuable to their life and career development.

 

 

We are pleased to reveal our exciting, unique addition to the children’s playground – a brand new Land Rover Defender!  The full size Defender was donated to Eastnor Castle by Land Rover to celebrate over 50 years of vehicle testing on the estate.  The Land Rover has been fully child proofed and it sits alongside the existing tractor and motorbike, however, it doesn’t have an engine so will not be going for any fun rides! 

David Littlewood, General Manager “We are very proud of the Land Rover and are hoping it will prove to be extremely popular.  It’s probably the first time a brand new Land Rover has been used in a playground and I am sure it will survive all the inquisitive children playing with it.  We are grateful to Land Rover for the enormously generous gift and hope they will be on the estate for the next 50 years”.

A new zip wire also be installed in the playground as part of the upgrade and will be ready to welcome the first visitors of the season on Good Friday for the annual Easter Egg Hunt.

 

Recently, a few sandstone blocks on two of our towers have been spalling, which involves losing the outside layer of stone in a thin flake, which then falls dangerously to the ground without warning, a real hazard for anyone too close without a hard hat.  We roped the areas off in case of any further events and called Wallwalkers to the rescue as a cherry picker would not have worked and scaffolding was not necessary, or economic for the amount of work involved.  Wallwalkers, a local firm had access to the top of the two towers and were able to secure their abseiling ropes without difficulty. They then dropped over the side, as it were, and tackled each damaged stone in turn, so there were no loose pieces left. Even though the top of the tower projects from the wall, they were able to dislodge all the loose pieces quite easily. In the image, a damaged (discoloured) stone is seen to the left of the Wallwalker as he works his way down, fortunately on a sunny day.

The cause of the problem is ingress of rain into the gaps between the blocks where the lime mortar has failed. The stone then gets wet and is damaged by frost, of which there has been plenty last year. The solution is to re-point where we need to, and the next stage is to make a photographic survey of all the stonework to see where we need to go and estimate what it will cost. As the gaps between the blocks are only about 1mm, the material we use will have to be carefully selected. We will also have to make flaunching repairs to the tops of the stones below those where the flakes have come off as they will otherwise be vulnerable to water ingress from the top edge where they are now exposed.

After all we have spent on the roof and parapets it is annoying now to find more work, even if we do not have to re-point everywhere. At least business is picking up and bookings are better for 2014…
JH-B  23rd January 2014

 

After I wrote about “Smirke Revisited”, various works of art duly arrived at Eastnor on loan from the Lonsdale collection, and we had the excitement of unpacking and unwrapping the items as they were delivered.  I image my ancestors had the same experience as their purchases arrived from the Grand Tour, or its mid-19th century equivalent, though I suspect they would have been more in a supervisory capacity rather than in a hands-on role as I was and I doubt that so much of high quality would ever have arrived at one time.

We then had the challenge of displaying it all.  I had done some planning and bought in a quantity of heavy hooks and chain from Frank B Scragg of Birmingham.  Our first job was to fix cast iron hooks to the backs of the frames as the Lowther picture hanging system was different from ours.  We then suspended the new chains from existing rails, after moving our own pictures to one side to make room for the distinguished visitors.  We then offered up the new paintings to see what they looked like.  On the whole, they looked excellent.

In the first image, David Littlewood, our Business Manager, and Anthony Marriott, one of our house managers, have just finished helping me hang a painting of Lowther Castle from the park by Turner. Obviously a very good painting, it was nevertheless hard to see without a picture light, so we asked Tom Oates from Chelsea Lighting Design to produce a light that would exactly illuminate it after I had sent all the dimensions. Then the second image shows the Turner in the middle, duly lit after Tom and two colleagues came down and did the job.  The effect is dramatic.  The painting is now the highlight of the Dining Room, if not the whole display, and the light exactly covers all the canvas and frame, whereas to light the top of the painting-and overheat the canvas in the process.  We have also had Tom fit new lights to six other paintings on his visit.

I hope our visitors will appreciate the new display when we re-open to the public at Easter in 2014. Meanwhile, I am glad the bulbs have a predicted life of 4000 hours!

JH-B  17th November 2013

 

We sweep our chimneys every year after the winter, but often not much soot comes out. After a chimney fire about 15 years ago, I assumed we were using drier wood and less soot was being generated, but I was wrong. The first image shows my view of the house from halfway around the lake when I saw black smoke emerging in huge volumes from the Great Hall chimney. As I was without a mobile telephone (there would probably have been no signal anyway), I ran, or more like jogged, back as fast as I could to raise the alarm in case the fire was not obvious to the people inside.

I found that the Fire Brigade was already on its way, and the firemen soon started rodding the chimney when they arrived. It is probably at least 70ft high, and so extra rods had to be summoned from another appliance, along with an electronic heat detector to check for any hot spots on the walls through which the chimney passed. There was some smoke in the adjacent areas, but, strangely, not enough to set off the smoke alarms.

The rodding worked up to a point, but the fire roared on, so we decided to pour water down the chimney. After a brief, but tense, search for the key to the door to the Keep roof, we emptied numerous buckets of water down the chimney, though most of the contents came straight back in the form of steam. Eventually, a fire hose reached us, and the fire was quenched, without doing any obvious damage to the interior decoration of the house. The second image gives an idea of the height of the chimney, though sadly the extended ladder could not get close enough to the house to be useful.

On advice from the Fire Officer in charge, we have now had the chimney inspected with a CCTV camera. We have found the ledge where the soot accumulated, away from the sweeping brushes, and will almost certainly have the chimney lined to protect the fabric of the house in case of another fire. It was all quite dramatic, but the efficiency of the Fire Brigade was re-assuring. In future, we will have to use a professional firm of chimney sweeps and have camera inspections on a regular basis.

JH-B   19th December 2013

THIS IS A PAST EVENT

Jan Rautio, the acclaimed Russian Pianist, is returning to Eastnor Castle on Friday 12th May at 7.30pm to perform a concert in support of the British Red Cross.  He will be accompanied by Jane Gordon (violin) and Katherine Jenkinson (cello) as the ‘Rautio Piano Trio’.  Jan gave solo performances at Eastnor in 2004 and 2005 and received praise from all those who attended. Born in Russia in 1980, Rautio began his musical education at the Gnesin Special Music School in Moscow. He started playing the piano at the age of four and gave his first solo recital just three years later. Jan came to Britain in 1993 where he made his London concerto debut in 1996 performing Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto in Fairfield Halls and a year later his conducting debut there with Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.

This promises to be an exceptional evening of classical music staged in the magnificent setting of the Great Hall of the castle, with works by Schubert, Haydn, Shostakovich and Ravel. 

After I wrote about “Smirke Revisited”, various works of art duly arrived at Eastnor on loan from the Lonsdale collection, and we had the excitement of unpacking and unwrapping the items as they were delivered.  I image my ancestors had the same experience as their purchases arrived from the Grand Tour, or its mid-19th century equivalent, though I suspect they would have been more in a supervisory capacity rather than in a hands-on role as I was and I doubt that so much of high quality would ever have arrived at one time.

We then had the challenge of displaying it all.  I had done some planning and bought in a quantity of heavy hooks and chain from Frank B Scragg of Birmingham.  Our first job was to fix cast iron hooks to the backs of the frames as the Lowther picture hanging system was different from ours.  We then suspended the new chains from existing rails, after moving our own pictures to one side to make room for the distinguished visitors.  We then offered up the new paintings to see what they looked like.  On the whole, they looked excellent.

In the first image, David Littlewood, our Business Manager, and Anthony Marriott, one of our house managers, have just finished helping me hang a painting of Lowther Castle from the park by Turner. Obviously a very good painting, it was nevertheless hard to see without a picture light, so we asked Tom Oates from Chelsea Lighting Design to produce a light that would exactly illuminate it after I had sent all the dimensions. Then the second image shows the Turner in the middle, duly lit after Tom and two colleagues came down and did the job.  The effect is dramatic.  The painting is now the highlight of the Dining Room, if not the whole display, and the light exactly covers all the canvas and frame, whereas our old-fashioned lights used just to light the top of the painting-and overheat the canvas in the process.  We have also had Tom fit new lights to six other paintings on his visit.

I hope our visitors will appreciate the new display when we re-open to the public at Easter in 2014. Meanwhile, I am glad the bulbs have a predicted life of 4000 hours!

JH-B  17th November 2013

In an alley off the south end of Ledbury High Street are the discreet premises of Tilley Printing. It is a Victorian establishment, now owned and run by Martin Clark, and he supplies us with printed writing paper for our guest bedrooms and other materials from time to time, including invitation cards to my 21st birthday party, my brother’s and my eldest daughters (sadly, not repeat business).

Although Martin is seen standing next to a relatively modern machine, he also uses an Albion Press, manufacturer by A Wilson & Sons, London, from about 1850 and a Wharfedale Printing Machine by Payne & Sons, Otley, one of the machines which is said to have transformed the printing industry in the second half of the nineteenth century.  The Tilley machine dates from about 1895, according to Martin, and is still driven by a belt off the original line shafting, which itself is now driven by an electric motor, a replacement for a paraffin engine and before that a steam engine. (The covered-over hole for its chimney is still evident in the roof).

Tilley Printing was started in about 1870, when Luke Tilley, a local stationer and photographer, took over the business from a Mr Bayliss. It is open for business on weekdays, and is occasionally open at other times e.g. for Herefordshire Art Week.  To secure its future, Martin has taken on an apprentice, Anneliese Appleby, a former art teacher.  Her training is being sponsored by the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust a charity of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

We hope it all works out as we should like to continue using Tilley Printing and its perfectly good, but old machines for as long as we can.

JH-B  14th September 2014

Thanks to an introduction from the adviser who is guiding us on the restoration of our arboretum, Tom Stuart-Smith we have been in contact with Martin Gardner at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh who is managing a programme to preserve species of threatened conifers from around the world.  As conifers grow well at Eastnor, and we have a fine collection from the 19th century planting of Charles, 3rd Earl Somers, we have been lucky enough to be asked to plant a number of young trees grown from the seeds recovered from trees at risk as an outstation of the main botanic garden, making Eastnor part of a network of over 150 sites across the UK and Ireland contributing to this conservation effort.

Tom Christian is shown measuring the growth of a thriving specimen of Abies Cilicia sub species Cilicia which was planted last year and has enjoyed the recent combination of spring rain and summer sun.  Details of the species and how it is threatened can be found on https://threatenedconifers.rbge.org.uk/taxa/details/abies-cilicica-subsp.-cilicica.  Tom works closely with Martin Gardner and is Project Officer with the National Tree Collections of Scotland & the iCONic Project and has selected the trees for Eastnor, based on his observations of what has grown well here in the past. They are about to embark on a collecting trip to Japan, so perhaps we will benefit from the results of the trip in due course. They can be followed on the iCONic website mentioned above.

As over a third of the world’s conifers are under threat of extinction in the wild, it is a privilege for us to be able to join this ambitious conservation project, even though we are some distance from its epicentre in Scotland. Also, as I have also had many happy visits to Syria in the past and used to be a director of the British Syrian Society, I am delighted to be able to preserve an element of Syria’s natural heritage in what should be a safer place.

JH-B  8th Sept 2013

The image shows Lowther Castle, designed by Robert Smirke for the Earl of Lonsdale and started in 1805, seven years before Eastnor.  When my ancestor, Lord Somers, was considering which architect to commission for his own mansion in the style of a mediaeval castle, Smirke was an obvious candidate, and Lord Lonsdale provided a positive reference, recommending Smirke and saying he did not suffer “from the faults of other architects”, without stating what they might be, though overrunning the budget was likely to be one of them.  In fact, Smirke had tendered £140,000, but only spent £110,000 to build Lowther. Lord Lonsdale was so impressed that he nevertheless gave Smirke the full contract sum.

Sadly, Lowther has only survived as a shell as many of its contents were sold in the 1950’s and the house largely dismantled, a fate suffered by over one thousand historic houses in the UK during that difficult period. But many of the best works of art were kept by the family and moved to another house on the estate, where they were available to view by appointment. The good news is that a charitable trust, is now building a gallery on the site of the castle where much of the Lonsdale collection will be displayed to visitors: see https://www.lowther.co.uk/index.php/castle-a-gardens

As the family would like to display some of the paintings and furniture before the gallery opens next year, and it is an unusual chance for us to work with another estate,  we have agreed with the Lonsdale trustees to have a temporary display at Eastnor. A number of objects are due to arrive next week and will be on show amongst the paintings and other works of art in the rooms visited by the public.  They will certainly add to the visitor experience, though it will not be on the scale of the great “Houghton Revisited” exhibition in Norfolk, which has been such a great success: see www.houghtonrevisited.com But it will enhance our own collection for the next season, and I hope the works of art will appreciate being back in a Smirke castle after a seventy year break. I must just make sure I do not get too fond of them while they are here…

JH-B  6th September 2013