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Brand New Land Rover for Eastnor Castle Playground




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.

Suppliers to Eastnor Castle – Martin Clark, Tilley Printing

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).

Martin ClarkAlthough 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

Smirke Revisited

LowtherThe 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 http://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

Miss Selfridge Photo Shoot

We have had a number of fashion shoots in the past. The first was with Kutchinsky with the famous Norman Parkinson, followed by one for Tatler and then a German lingerie company (which required extra heating). Luckily, the Miss Selfridge team came to Eastnor during a warm week and were able to shoot inside and out, without any special arrangements having to be made.

Katie & NicolaOne image shows Katie Pearson and Nicola St Louis sorting out some of the 8 rails of clothes, referred to generically as “garments”, before taking them back to London for the official launch of the latest catalogue. Over sixty images were saved by Jackie Dixon, the photographer and a selection will eventually be offered in catalogue form and on line.  They were able to use quite a number of areas in the house and grounds, but I do not expect it will be obvious that we are the location.

Octagon RoomThe other image shows the Octagon saloon converted into garment warehouse for the shoot. It is the ideal room for it as it is sparsely furnished and used for breakfasts, lunches, dancing and drinking and corporate off-site meetings. Until 1939, it was used by my grandparents as their drawing room as my grandmother did not like the Pugin Gothic Drawing room next door. It has a carpet which was re-made new in China, a copy of the Indian original made in Amritsar for the room in the 19th century, and a bust of my father, who used to receive Land Rover guests there before they set up their main centre in the old kitchen gardens: /  he would have enjoyed the latest spectacle.

We have loved having Miss Selfridge here, and I am only sorry my wife and daughters have been away this week, though there were no cast-offs for them to pick over. Perhaps they will buy from the catalogue instead.

JH-B  5th July 2013

New Life in Old Houses – A Photographic Competition

HHA PosterSmallwood Architects and the Historic Houses Association (HHA) have teamed up for a summer photographic competition this year to celebrate the HHA’s 40th anniversary.  First prize for adults is £1000, second prize is £500, and the winner of the 17 and under category will receive an iPad.

The competition will run from 1 July – 30 September 2013.

To enter, simply take a photograph (maximum 8MB) of the exterior of an HHA property and email it, with your name, contact details and the name of the house, to hha@smallwoodarchitects.co.uk before 1 October 2013.  Photographs can be of a whole building or any external part of a house or outbuilding. The competition is for amateur photographers and entry is limited to one image per person.*

This exciting competition will highlight the beauty of some of Britain’s outstanding country houses and raise awareness of these important buildings.  We are truly fortunate to have so many beautiful houses spread the length and breadth of the country and we hope this competition will help to bring many of them into the public eye.

Entries will be displayed online at the Smallwood Architects Flickr site for the duration of the competition. Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/smallwoodhha.

Some members of the judging panel include Richard Compton, President of the Historic Houses Association, Mira Bar-Hillel, of The Evening Standard, Jonathan Dinnewell, Managing Director, Smallwood Architects and Mark Hedges, the Editor of Country Life.