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.
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.
One 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.
The 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
Land Rover is celebrating 50 years of using the Eastnor Castle estate in Herefordshire as its centre for off road testing and development. Tucked away in rural Herefordshire, this historic piece of English countryside is still an important tool in the research and development of new Land Rovers as well as offering a completely unique Land Rover driving experience to members of the public.
In 1961, Land Rover first chose the 5000 acre Eastnor Castle estate located near Ledbury, Herefordshire to assess the off-road credentials of their vehicles. Half a century on, the tradition continues, with Eastnor playing a pivotal role in the research and development of Land Rover’s outstanding all-round capability and class-leading off road performance.
As well as the cars themselves, Eastnor has been instrumental in developing an impressive collection of Land Rover technologies; such as Anti-lock Brakes, Adjustable Air Suspension, Electronic Traction Control, Hill Descent Control and Terrain Response® – many of which were world firsts in the 4×4 sector.
The tradition of testing all Land Rover models at Eastnor continues to this day. The Range Rover Evoque was the most recent model to complete its off-road apprenticeship and a large part of the Evoque’s technology, including MagneRide™, was proven on the estate, where ride dampers were tested extensively.
Terrain Response® offers drivers optimal vehicle set-up (electronic and mechanical), and performance, under a variety of off-road conditions.
Whether driving in mud, ruts, rocks, sand, grass, gravel or snow, Terrain Response® has the appropriate setting, and will optimise ride height, engine torque Response®, Hill Decent Control, Electronic Traction Control and transmission settings, ensuring a safe and controlled passage across any terrain. The Eastnor estate provides the ultimate test for all these conditions and is instrumental in the continuing development of this technology.
Eastnor has been used as not only an ideal off-road engineering ground, but since 1989, as an off-road learning centre for the emergency services, explorers, humanitarian societies such as the British Red Cross and, more recently, the general public.
Customers and fans of the brand can now book drive experience days to hone their on and off-road driving skills with tuition from a team of highly qualified Land Rover Experience instructors. Eastnor is one of over 30 centres around the world, and hosts over five and a half thousand visitors every year participating in half or full days, beginner and intermediate training as well as exciting night drives. Over a third of these visitors have travelled from overseas, keen to experience Land Rover in its heartland.
Last month, we hosted Land Rover employees who had been involved in the design, development and manufacture of Range Rovers at Eastnor to celebrate the birth of the car, 40 years ago. Much has changed in the design and specification over the period, but the unique off-road qualities of the Range Rover have remained ahead of the field.
We were lucky to have had much of the original testing take place on our land, often under the watchful eye of Spen King, its famous designer.The coil-sprung suspension was tried out over ruts and ant hills, the gear boxes tested to destruction on a special steep track in one of the woods, subsequently known as Gear Box Hill, and paint work was brushed up against thorn trees to see how badly it would scratch.
At other times, traction and braking were proved on wet grass and ignition systems exposed to deep water wading trials. Some early prototypes were more like Land Rovers in disguise, with V8 engines to take the unsuspecting by surprise when pulling away from traffic lights.
It was an exciting time, and the finished product justified all the effort involved. Range Rovers are still the best 4 x 4s in the world, we think, now with very sophisticated control and management systems and very smart interiors. The days of engaging the red or yellow knob for four-wheel drive are definitely over, although the Land Rover heritage fleet is never far away if you want to be reminded of the old days.
We had a happy day. The Land Rover team enjoyed themselves, drove off road, experienced first-hand the sort of driving conditions their vehicles are designed to tackle and had a good lunch. Anyone else wanting to try should apply through Land Rover Experience.
Note: Spen King sadly died on 26th June, three days before the event: see Telegraph article.
JH-B 30th June 2010
We are not in the coldest area of the UK, but it is quite cold enough here at the moment. A blanket of snow covers the roofs except where our insulation is not up to standard, and the lake is frozen over. Otherwise, it is business as usual.
My grandfather installed most of the central heating in 1932, but it was only put on for special occasions when I was a child. Instead, we had wood fires, wood burning stoves, imported from Denmark, and an AGA in the kitchen. There were old ceramic hot water bottles and a strange caged light bulb to warm the beds, each hazardous in its own right if not removed in time by unsuspecting visitors. We dressed in warmer clothes then, shut doors and excluded draughts with black tape etc wherever possible. In due course, my parents installed a straw-burning boiler, which had a voracious appetite for bales, but did a good job and saved large oil bills..
In the big freeze of 1963, my father drove a Land Rover, rather tentatively, on the frozen lake. As the snow thawed, we all went onto the roofs to shovel the snow out of the valley gutters so the melted snow could run uninterrupted to the drains. The wrong sort of snow, familiar to recent users of Eurostar services, also blew through the gaps in the slates to lie on the ceilings below. It had to be shovelled out before it melted and came down into the rooms below.
Now, we have extended the central heating and installed new and more efficient boilers. Most of the roofs are insulated and the wood fires still help, although their effect is more cosmetic.
But when the thaw comes, we will still have to shovel the snow from the valley gutters, but in the meantime our guests feel snug and warm. JH-B 8th January 2010
Outside a company part of D3 have based part of their business at the old stables here for the last 3 years. They are a leading agency supplying brand experiences, adventure-based events, product launches and vehicle demonstration courses. They work regularly with Land Rover at Eastnor and elsewhere, and were involved in the new Defender launch here in 2007 and ran the UK selections for the Land Rover G4 Challenge.
Outside have set up a series of team building activities in the grounds and, as the images below show, they use the castle for abseiling and a spectacular zip wire ride across the lake. Companies coming here for corporate training days or off-site meetings can now add an interesting new activity to their programmes.
Most of the castle team, voluntarily of course, have tried the zip wire across the lake. I certainly enjoyed it myself and might even have been tempted to try dropping off into the lake half way across if I had not been thoroughly secured to the wire by a harness. The zip wire and abseiling are popular as sponsored activities for fund raising for charity. J H-B