S T R AT F O R D - O N-AV O N | M AY FA I R | L E I C E S T E R S H I R E
APRIL 3, 2019
Interiors: the English look How to get it right
Little porkers: the joy of keeping kunekunes The healing powers of Roman Bath How to get your swifts back
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A period property set in Chiddingfold countryside.
Surrey This Grade II listed family home offers a large number of outbuildings and is set in a private and secluded position close to local amenities. • • •
Haslemere 6 miles Guildford 14 miles London 45 miles
Julia Robotham and Nigel Mitchell look forward to helping you. email@example.com 020 7861 5390 firstname.lastname@example.org 01483 610126
£4,000,000 knightfrank.co.uk Connecting people & property, perfectly.
W I L M S LOW
One of Cheshire's finest country houses (approximately 20,000 sq ft), with magnificent leisure suite and 5,588 sq ft luxury garaging/hangar facility.
• 5 reception rooms • Cinema room • Games room • Music room • Orangery • Kitchen/breakfast room • Leisure suite with pool & gym • 8 en suite bedrooms • 1 bedroom flat • 3 bedroom lodge • Pavilion • 22-car garaging/helicopter hangar • 6 further garages • Stabling • Gardens • 2 small lakes (stocked with carp) • Paddock land • In all just under 11 acres • EPC rating F
GUIDE PRICE: £6,000,000
01625 540 340 HALE
0161 928 8881
Grade II listed detached family home.
2 0.31 acres
Wiltshire Occupying a wonderful position opposite The By Brook, on the edge of the desirable village of Castle Combe; often described as England’s prettiest village. • • •
Chippenham 6 miles (71 minutes to Paddington on GWR main line) Bath 13 miles Bristol 21 miles
Francesca Leighton-Scott looks forward to helping you. email@example.com 01225 325994
£1,200,000 knightfrank.co.uk Connecting people & property, perfectly.
Magical Tudor Manor Dorchester, Dorset Dorchester: 6.5 miles (147 minutes from London Waterloo), Poole: 18 miles, Sherborne: 22 miles Dating from the 15th century and set in exquisite 19th century gardens. 8 reception rooms, 11 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, cinema, Coach House converted to events venue, 3 bedroom cottage, exquisite formal gardens, dovecote, outbuildings, woodland, pasture and par-3 golf course. 29 acres | Guide ÂŁ7.5 million
Lindsay Cuthill Savills London Country Department 020 3944 5786 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Rawlings Savills Wimborne 020 3944 5658 ashley.rawlings @savills.com
James Crawford Knight Frank Country Department 020 7861 1065 james.crawford @knightfrank.com
Luke Pender-Cudlip Knight Frank Sherborne 01935 810 062 luke.pender-cudlip @knightfrank.com
Local knowledge, global reach. In an ever changing world, the appeal of the traditional British country house has endured the test of time. We are extremely privileged to be involved in the sale of some of Britainâ€™s most spectacular homes, both openly and privately available. We know that there is far more to selling a country house than getting the figures right. Our longstanding reputation in the market is built on a wealth of experience and the guidance we bring to every sale. Our extensive knowledge in this niche market is now further enhanced by our link with global bank, BNP Paribas, providing access to an affluent network of buyers from across the world. Our affiliation with Christieâ€™s International Real Estate also strengthens our global reach across 49 countries and 32,000 agents. If you are thinking of selling your property, or are looking to buy, contact James Mackenzie, Head of the Country Department on 0203 642 4591.
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ESSEX, FINCHINGFIELD Guide Price £2,950,000
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HAMPSHIRE, FRITHAM Guide Price £3,600,000
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BERKSHIRE, WINKFIELD Guide Price £6,500,000
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Exceptional Regency House Sible Hedingham, Essex Braintree: 8.5 miles (London Liverpool Street from 61 minutes) Grade II listed house set in mature gardens and grounds. 4 reception rooms, 7 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 bedroom cottage, 3 bedroom lodge house, coach house and stables, swimming pool and pool house, landscaped gardens, kitchen garden, paddocks and oak woodland. About 31 acres I Guide ÂŁ3.5 million Tim Phillips Savills London Country Department 020 3504 8779 email@example.com
Mark Rimell Strutt & Parker Country Department 020 7318 5025 mark.rimell @struttandparker.com
Beautiful Georgian Country House Westmill, Hertfordshire Bishop’s Stortford: 10.5 miles (London Liverpool Street from 30 minutes) Idyllic parkland setting, 5 reception rooms, kitchen/breakfast room, 7 bedrooms, 4 bath/shower rooms, potential to create further 3 bedrooms and family bathroom, formal gardens, paddocks, tennis court, extensive outbuildings, stables and garaging. About 20 acres I Guide £2.95 million Tim Phillips Savills London Country Department 020 3944 1918 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hannah Tomlin Savills Bishop’s Stortford 01279 888358 email@example.com
Elegant First Floor Apartment Primrose Hill, London St John’s Wood Underground Station: 0.6 miles Rare opportunity to acquire this 2,638 sq ft first floor apartment. Double reception room, kitchen/breakfast room, 2 bedroom suites with dressing rooms, 2 further bedrooms (1 en suite), 2 studies, balcony, terrace, access to communal gardens, lift and 2 off-street parking spaces. EPC = C Share of Freehold I Guide £5.5 million Zach Madison Savills St John’s Wood 020 3944 4865 firstname.lastname@example.org
Productive Forest Estate Barrhill, South Ayrshire Barrhill: 2 miles, Glasgow: 75 miles Extensive commercial forest in the key timber region of South Scotland dominated by Sitka Spruce. Diverse age structure from 4 to 38 years old, entering production phase with significant timber income potential. Lochs and sporting opportunities and 41 acres of grazing land. About 2,542 acres I Excess ÂŁ9.5 million Alastair Gemmell Savills Perth 01738 657264 email@example.com
James Adamson Savills Perth 01738 658236 firstname.lastname@example.org
MODERN FAMILY LIVING
• New high specification detached house
Mentmore, Buckinghamshire Guide price £1,600,000
• Landscaped gardens and double garage • Swanbourne House and Winchester House preparatory schools available nearby, along with Akeley Wood independent school
A modern energy efficient home of 4,130 sq. ft. built on the site of a former smithy, with a bespoke fitted kitchen and a landscaped garden.
3 reception rooms
B EPC rating
• Catchment for Aylesbury grammar schools and easy access to a number of public schools, including Stowe and Oundle • Gated driveway, double garage, CCTV and garden lighting
2.3 miles from Cheddington
19.4 miles from M25 junction 20
44 minutes from Euston
To arrange a viewing, please contact us at:
Traditional Farmhouse For Sale Centrally positioned in its 17+ acres of land Near the cities of Bristol, Bath and Wells Flexible ancillary accommodations for staff/office/guests/leisure Offers in the region of ÂŁ2.95m Call us on 01761 241 114 for a chat or speak to our Estate Agent, Matthew Pegler, on 01225 474 503
After 20 years living on our farm in the Mendip Hills AONB we are looking to move on. We have managed our farmland for wildlife, lightly grazing with a flock of rare breed sheep and, in the past, a small herd of cows. We have areas of woodland and established ponds. Our energy supply includes 80 solar panels and ground source heat pumps. There are no rights of way or footpaths across the land, so the farm feels private. The property includes separate buildings offering office space, cottage accommodation, a Threshing Barn entertainment hall, an award-winning eco-swimming pool, agricultural storage and livestock barns, garaging and workshop space, and caretaker facilities. We have enjoyed the farm as our country retreat, appreciating the space and freedom of rural life. We have often thought it might serve well as a base for creative work, or an opportunity to run a small business.
These particulars are intended to give a fair and substantially correct overall description for the guidance of intending purchasers and do not constitute an offer or part of a contract and should not be relied upon as statements or representations of fact. Any areas, measurements or distances are approximate. Prospective purchasers should seek their own professional advice.
Insurance designed for your lifestyle Whether your home is a listed monument, country cottage or city pad, we can give you peace of mind with our bespoke cover for both home and contents.
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Combe Court, Surrey acquired 1993
Med & Monaco
Donâ€™t miss your chance to advertise in our Med & Monaco property issue On Sale 22nd May 2019 Booking/copy deadline: 24th April 2019 For more information on advertising please contact Oliver Pearson email@example.com - 07961 800887
Coming Up at Dreweatts Auctions 3 April Old Master, British & European Paintings including Sporting Pictures 3 April Modern & Contemporary Art 16 April The Spring Sale: Day 1 European Ceramics & Glass, Decorative Arts since 1860 & Country Sporting 17 April The Spring Sale: Day 2 Furniture, Carpets, Clocks, Lighting, Asian & European Works of Art 26 April Fine & Rare Wines & Spirits 30 April Works on Paper from the Islamic & Near Eastern Worlds 1 May Oakley House: the Collection of Eustace Gibbs, 3rd Baron Wraxall, KCVO, CMG
Valuation Days 5 April & 3 May | Newbury Fine Art, Antiques, Jewellery, Silver, Watches, Wine & Collectibles 9, 16, 23 & 30 April | London Jewellery, Silver, Watches & Luxury Accessories 12 April | Bristol Jewellery, Silver, Watches, Asian Works of Art, Ceramics, Pictures & Antiques 25 April | London Fine Art
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Auctions, exhibitions and valuations
Valuations and highlights exhibitions
The Easter Exhibition 6th April - 29th April
THE PETWORTH PARK
ANTIQUES & FINE ART FAIR THE MARQUEE, PETWORTH PARK PETWORTH, WEST SUSSEX GU28 0QY
10 - 12 MAY 2019 Come and buy the very finest art and antiques at our annual event of distinction
Ken Howard RA
Snow in the Piazza, 8am
9½ x 11¾ inches, Oil
11.00 - 20.00 Friday Saturday 10.30 - 18.00 Sunday 10.30 - 17.00
All works are online and available for sale THE
Island Fine Arts, 12 Southgate, Chichester, PO19 1ES T: 01243 532798 E: email@example.com www.islandfinearts.com
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WOO L LE Y & WA L LI S
SA L I S B U R Y SA L E R O O M S
Entries are invited for
Modern British & 20th Century Art Auction: Wednesday 5th June 2019 CLOSING DATE FOR ENTRIES: 17TH APRIL
Sir Matthew Smith (1879-1959) Still Life with Gothic Figure Estimate: £15,000 Ð 20,000
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Cheltenham Racecourse 26 - 28 April 2019
Gordon W son: Doorway Ga ery
Ascot Racecourse 20 - 22 September 2019
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COUNTRY LIFE VOL CCXIII NO 14, ApRIL 3, 2019
Miss Louise Hogberg Louise, elder daughter of Mr and Mrs Bengt Hogberg of Stockholm, Sweden, is engaged to be married to Captain Christopher Pyman, only son of Dr and Mrs Mark Pyman of Newton Ferrers, Devon. They will be married at the English Church of St Peter and St Sigfrid, Stockholm, in August. Photographed at the Cavalry and Guards Club, London W1, where Louise and Christopher first met, by Mike Garrard
Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images
Contents April 3, 2019
Folklore says kissing is in season when gorse is in flower: Corfe Castle, Dorset, where the prickly bushes are at their golden best
92 Feathering the nest Jamie Wyver on how we can all help our swifts find new homes
Paint expert Edward Bulmer’s Herefordshire home (Simon Brown)
Cover stories 46 The tale of the little pigs Tiny and tasty, Kunekune pigs have won British hearts for 25 years, finds Kate Green 50 Bathing in Roman beauty Water wars, rivalry and an empty envelope: the 19th-century excavation of the Roman Baths in Bath had it all, says Clive Aslet 68 Interiors Creating the perfect English home: Edward Bulmer talks paint; why ‘made in London’ is a mark of quality; block printing; antique rugs and triumphant fireplaces 26 Country Life, April 3, 2019
38 ‘This is a fabulous moment’ Dieter Helm tells Clive Aslet why he’s optimistic for Nature’s future 42 Sir Peter Osborne’s favourite painting The chairman of Osborne & Little chooses a luminous portrait 44 Magical Minsmere under threat The vast scope of the nuclear plans in Suffolk worries Fiona Reynolds 56 A tough nut to crack Ian Morton reveals the ancient secrets of the humble hazel 60 The greatest lottery of them all Kate Green looks back over 180 years of the Grand National and Mark Hedges offers his tips 64 Like a fish needs a bicycle The River Dee Damsels welcome David Profumo to the sisterhood
94 Smokin’ hot Adrian Dangar tucks in to haddock 96 Currying favour Lentils are flourishing on British farmland, discovers Julie Harding 110 The great collector Charles Quest-Ritson returns to Thenford House, Northamptonshire 118 The A–Z of Havana Bolivar salutes a new cigar boom 120 Handsome is as handsome does The timeless style of the Audi A6 wins over Charles Rangeley-Wilson 130 When the boot’s on the other foot Michael Billington on gender and a fine David Hare production
Every week 28 Town & Country 32 Notebook 34 Letters 35 Agromenes 36 Athena 40 My week 98 Kitchen garden cook 100 Property market 106 Property comment 116 In the garden 122 Art market 124 Exhibition 126 Books 132 Bridge and crossword 133 Classified advertisements 142 Spectator 142 Tottering-by-Gently
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Nothing but happiness T Ake your head out of your hands, throw away the newspapers and switch off the radio and TV. It’s April. Hedgerows billow with may blossom, celandines sparkle in the verges, lambs and foals gambol. The chiffchaffs, more heard than seen, have arrived and bluebells will soon make the sky fall to earth, as they work their cerulean magic on woodland floors. T. S. eliot called it the cruellest month because rebirth can be painful, but poets can be as gloomy as MPs. The rest of us rejoice in long evenings, the sun winking through the curtains as we get up. Simply look out of the window and your spirits lift. Remember Mole in The Wind in the Willows? His ‘hang spring-cleaning’ was quickly followed by an upward burrow; emerging into the sunlight, he ‘jumped in the joy of living’. Chaucer had something similar in mind when he wrote the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales: April’s sweet-smelling showers inspire ‘folk to go on pilgrimages’.
We can look forward to making our own pilgrimages to Crichel in Dorset, Combermere Abbey in Cheshire or exton Hall in Rutland, each opening its garden for the first time as part of the NGS. Last week’s launch of the famous Yellow Book for 2019, which details opening times and, importantly, availability of tea and cake, for 3,500 gardens across the country, revealed other first-timers, not all of them stately.
Poets can be as gloomy as MPs. The rest of us rejoice in April There are town gardens, allotment gardens, gardens of schools and hospices. A particular highlight will be Bryngwyn, in Ceredigion, with its traditional wildflower meadow and orchard of historic Welsh apples, although we’ll have to wait until
June for that. Merely thinking about a visit blows the vapours away. On Saturday, there’s the Grand National (page 60) and on Sunday, the Boat Race. School’s out. There’s hot cross buns for tea. Those of us struggling with Lenten vows are all too conscious that easter is yet to come. It arrives with all the drama of ritual and liturgy, experienced, even by many nonchurchgoers, in performances of Bach’s ‘Passions’ and Stainer’s Crucifixion. Christmas is an introspective festival, as we contemplate the wonder of new birth, amid the cosiness of family feasting, festive decorations and log fires. easter is outwardlooking: a time of revival, as Nature rubs her eyes after hibernation and a new generation of fledglings takes wing. Nowhere is this viewed better than from a chalkstream. In early April, wrote the fishing writer Howard Marshall in 1967, ‘you are conscious of being gathered up into the kindly, loving season before you, and you know that it can bring you nothing but happiness’.
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Country Life, April 3, 2019 27
Town & Country
Edited by Annunciata Elwes
Clockwise from top left: Golden-ringed dragonfly; small pearlbordered fritillary; bee beetle; dingy skipper; cylindrical leaf beetle; plant bug; cinnamon bug; scarce blue-tailed damselfly
Make mine a millipede
Liam Olds; Alamy
OME of Britain’s most endangered wildlife, including 900 invertebrates— 200 of which are rare—have found a haven in the derelict landscape of the South Wales valleys, which were once peppered with vast heaps of coal. Despite this, the sites are unprotected. The mining industry thrived in this area for more than 100 years, but, in the 20th century, when it collapsed, jobs were lost and the land left to run wild. Very little was known about life on these spoil tips until recently, when the National Museum of Wales hosted a 12-month traineeship for entomologist Liam Olds to study the habitat. More specifically, Mr Olds, who published his findings last month, 28 Country Life, April 3, 2019
found more than 90 species of bee on a small sample of one of these brownfield sites. Vulnerable butterflies such as grayling and dingy skipper are also thriving, despite sharp declines being recorded nationally. In 2017, Mr Olds discovered a new species of millipede called ‘Maerdy Monster’—named for the nearby former mining village of Maerdy—which has not been found anywhere else in the world. Skylarks and meadow pipits are commonly seen over the old tips and stonechats, linnets and long-tailed tits nest in gorse bushes nearby. There are wildlife-rich brownfield sites such as
railway sidings, quarries and former landfill sites all over the country and research has shown that these disused industrial areas can support as many rare species as ancient woodlands. ‘Today, mining and heavy industry have largely gone and Nature has transformed the landscape, but, nevertheless, perceptions of dereliction and despoliation persist,’ explains Mr Olds. ‘A shift in attitudes towards brownfield sites is urgently needed. These sites, and the unique wildlife they support, deserve to be protected.’ Phoebe Weston A meadow pipit is one of several birds thriving on spoil tips www.countrylife.co.uk
For all the latest news, visit countrylife.co.uk
Good week for Grubby kids Manners aside, picking your nose and eating it gives a healthy boost to the immune system, recommends an American scientist Old Oswestry Local campaigners are thrilled that Shropshire Council has rejected proposals for seven different housing sites close to a large, ancient hillfort known as ‘the Stonehenge of the Iron Age period’
Bad week for Office workers At an annual cost of £700 million to the NHS, sitting down for more than six hours a day causes one in nine deaths, amounting to tens of thousands a year, according to new research
More than just daffodils
YEAR in advance of the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth, the Wordsworth Trust is hard at work re-creating the 1800s at Dove Cottage, Cumbria (above), to the tune of £6.2 million and with fresh thinking in the mix. As Wordsworth was a radical English poet (for the time) and an early environmentalist, his deep connection with the natural world is paramount to the ethos of ‘Reimagining Wordsworth’. The orchard that he and his sister, Dorothy, maintained at Grasmere—which the poet called ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’—is set to be re-created, as well as new trails in the woods and a sensory garden with a moss hut, similar to the one in which the siblings found sanctuary. The Trust hopes to inspire intellectual, emotional and spiritual appreciation, with an emphasis on well-being, creativity and the natural landscape.
The project’s main benefactor is the National Lottery Heritage Fund (£4.1 million), with further grants and donations from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (through the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund), Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and others. ‘Wordsworth’s searing ideas and his sheer delight in the beauty of the world around him make him one of the most insightful of all poets,’ enthuses historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes. ‘I often find myself turning to his words. His sentiment that humanity has many faces, but one human heart is one I carry with me. His beautiful, brilliant ideas are still relevant to contemporary audiences today.’
Spontaneous oenophiles Majestic is set to close 200 of its stores to focus entirely on its online subscription company Naked Wines and will rebrand as such Hoverflies Britain could soon lose some of its pollinating insects, with a knock-on effect on crop growth, as a third of our hoverflies and wild bees are in decline, say scientists
Ewe need to see this
ELSH sheep-farming communities and their connection to the landscape are celebrated in a new exhibition at the Ceredigion Museum, which features works on loan from Tate, including three Henry Moore drawings (left), together with pieces by Welsh artists and from the museum’s collection. One series of works, by Miranda Whall, tells a story of the upland mountains from the perspective of a sheep. This is the first time the two institutions have teamed up, made possible by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, the first UK-wide funding scheme that helps smaller museums to borrow from national collections. ‘We are developing plans to borrow artefacts from the British Museum and National Museum of Wales in 2020,’ explains Alice Briggs of the Ceredigion Museum. ‘Sheep’ runs from April 6 to June 29, and will host a symposium on farming’s best practice and the environment: Future Landscapes’ (May 9–10). Visit www.ceredigionmuseum.wales for more. www.countrylife.co.uk
Norfolk-based artist Garry Pereira’s painted fly boxes put us in mind of the summer ahead and days on the beat. Available for sale and by commission from £500 (www.garrypereira.co.uk)
Country Life, April 3, 2019 29
Town & Country
Fit for a Duke
Last week, English Heritage announced an extraordinary discovery: a work that has been in its collection for years is actually from the workshop of Botticelli. Previously thought to be an imitation, the true origins of Madonna of the Pomegranate were unearthed during recent conservation work. A layer of thick, yellow varnish has been removed and, now, the closest version to the masterpiece by the Florentine master in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, is on display at Ranger’s House in Greenwich, London SE10
Where Scrooge met Long John Silver
English Heritage; Alamy
HISTORIC 12th-century church in the centre of Gloucester— St Mary de Crypt—has reopened following a two-year restoration project. Formerly in a state of serious disrepair and with a dwindling congregation, the Grade-I listed church was in danger of being declared redundant until a fund-raising campaign generated £2.1 million —including a £1.36 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund— to restore fully the 900-yearold building and its adjacent Tudor schoolhouse. The buildings have fascinating literary links to both Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson; James ‘Jemmy’ Wood, the notoriously mean Gloucester banker who provided the inspiration for Ebenezer
30 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Resting place of great literary villains: St Mary de Crypt
Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, is buried in the church and the school was attended by Stevenson’s friend William Ernest Henley, who lost a leg to tuberculosis and became the inspiration for Long John Silver in Treasure Island. The restoration was led by charity Discover DeCrypt and project-managed by The Prince’s Foundation with the aim of creating a modern community hub. ‘This amazing building is now ready to extend its welcome to a wider audience and reclaim its role as both an ancient place of worship and an important new part of Gloucester’s cultural, as well as physical cityscape,’ comments Nicola Dyer, senior project manager at The Prince’s Foundation. Holly Kirkwood
AY 1 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the 1st Duke of Wellington. Most commonly known as the celebrated military leader who crushed Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, the Duke also served as Prime Minister twice, becoming one of the key figures in 19th-century Britain, not to mention inspiration for many a pub name and the eponymous gumboots. Born Arthur Wellesley in Ireland in 1769 and educated at Eton, he joined the army thanks to a need to make ends meet and quickly climbed the ranks, serving in the Netherlands and India. However, it was his success during the Napoleonic Wars that cemented his reputation. On his return to England, Wellington swiftly entered politics, where he became an influential member of the Tory party. Among his political achievements were reforms for Catholic and Jewish populations, paving the way for equal rights among religious groups. He died in 1852 at Walmer Castle in Kent, after which Queen Victoria renamed a royal regiment in his honour, not to mention Wellington College in Berkshire. The Duke of Wellingon’s Regiment, founded more than 300 years ago, has now succeeded in raising almost all of the £240,000 needed for an 18ft-tall memorial statue in sulphur bronze by sculptor Andrew Sinclair, to be unveiled in May in Halifax, West Yorkshire, which has been the regiment’s home for more than 200 years. A further £11,900 is still required; visit http://memorial.dwr.org. uk/#donate to donate. To mark the anniversary of the Duke’s birth, an exhibition at Apsley House, London W1, will focus on Wellington’s formative years. ‘Young Wellington In India’ runs from March 30 until November 3, telling his story via paintings, books, objects and more. Many of the items are not on public display and are on loan from the current Duke’s collection. Freddie Kellett www.countrylife.co.uk
Country Mouse A time to die
National Trust/Images Edward Chambré Hardman Collection
It’s a snap A
NEW exhibition at Hardman’s House, Liverpool, offers insights into the working practices of a mid-century professional photographer. Behind the slender-columned porch of his Georgian home at 59, Rodney Street, Edward Chambré Hardman and his wife, Margaret, a capable photographer in her own right, maintained a portrait-photography studio for 40 years between 1949 and 1988. After his death, the property was passed to the National Trust, its features and decor unchanged since the 1950s and the studio and equipment Chambré Hardman used to take and process his pictures all intact. The vast collection of images on display illuminates Chambré Hardman’s interest in landscape photography, for which he had a superb compositional eye (as revealed in September in Wales (Corn Stooks), above). The exhibition focuses on a recent chance darkroom discovery of a cardboard box containing several undeveloped reels. The photos range from formal portraiture to shots taken from the house windows, providing a glimpse of the Hardmans’ experiments with light and exposure and taking of multiple images to obtain perfection. ‘Capturing Chambré Hardman’ runs until October 26, viewable as part of a pre-booked house tour (visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardmans-house). Jack Watkins
On the slug trail
HIS spring, the RHS is asking for help to find out more about what the slugs in our gardens are getting up to. Specifically, the charity is keen to know more about yellow and green cellar slugs. It seems that the population of yellow cellar slugs (pictured) has been dwindling since the green cellar slug arrived in the UK from Eastern Europe, but more information is required to find out whether the green invader is responsible. As slugs are nocturnal, the RHS is asking people to head outside after dark in search of these two species and to record their findings on a dedicated webpage, which features details of what to look out for (www.rhs.org.uk/ science/help-our-research/slug). ‘Slugs are a valuable part of the garden ecosystem and understanding the prevalence of some species is important in protecting them for the future,’ explains Imogen Cavadino, research assistant at the RHS. The charity is keen to know more about the two species’ interactions and any commonality in the places they frequent, with a view to understanding what it might mean for the future of our gardens and how the slugs can be encouraged and protected. HK www.countrylife.co.uk
T’S estimated that more than a million animals are killed on our roads each year and many more suffer fatal accidents, crawling away to die. That figure doesn’t include birds. The carnage does, however, indicate the current success or lack of road sense of certain species. When I was a boy, hedgehogs dominated roadkill. There were 50 times as many as there are today and their habit of curling into a ball when they sensed danger was a Darwinian flaw when it came to crossing our ever-busier roads. We hardly ever see one dead today. In contrast, the numbers of dead badgers and deer have increased rapidly. Pheasants have no road sense, especially the males at this time of year—with other things on their mind, they would rather stand and fight each other than get out of the way of an oncoming car. Conversely, we rarely see a dead corvid, despite their predilection for dining on roadkill—they’re among the cleverest birds on the planet. I was surprised to discover that Highways England logs all roadkill. Small animals such as pigeons are left to decompose in situ, but foxes are deposited out of sight. Protected wildlife is removed and documented. Domestic animals are taken to be scanned for microchips. It seems it’s not only potholes that have a backlog. MH
Town Mouse An interest in exercise
VERYWHERE, buds have been swelling in the sunshine this week. In London, I fancy that the spring blossom has never been better, although this may be an illusion brought on by the double role it plays this year. Not only do the magnolia and cherry herald better weather, but they offer reassuring proof that life goes on despite Westminster’s gridlock. Inspired by the weather, we have been trying to get our tiny garden in order. In previous years, the children were keen to help with this task, but their gardening enthusiasm seems to have waned. When, for example, through accidental neglect, a whole tray of germinating sweet peas withered, they seemed less interested in what might be done than vigorously attributing blame for the disaster. Meanwhile, through the generosity of a cousin, one of them has been given a fitness-tracker watch as a birthday present. I would find their consequent obsession with measurements of activity very irritating, but for a comic and inexplicable habit they’ve developed of turning on the touchscreen by slapping it against their forehead. Sometimes, they do it quite hard. While it lasts, it might be satisfying, if they’re being annoying, to ask how many steps they’ve taken that day. JG Country Life, April 3, 2019 31
Town & Country Notebook Quiz of the week 1) ‘En passant’ is a move in which board game? 2) Reed, marsh, sedge and grasshopper are varieties of which bird? 3) Naxos, Santorini and Mykonos are all part of which Greek island group? 4) Which sugar is found in milk? 5) How many vertices does a cube have?
Edited by Victoria Marston
Time to buy Personalised vintage map house print, from £49, Atlas & I (020–8944 2123; www. atlas-and-i.com)
Riddle me this What has a mouth, but never eats, has a bed, but never sleeps?
100 years ago in
COUNTRY LIFE April 5, 1919
T fell to the Grand National to be the first of our great sporting festivals to have a jubilant renewal after the war. And nothing could have been more appropriate than the presence of two of those who played a most prominent part in bringing the war to that successful issue without which there would have been no more sport and no more festivity in England. Admiral Beatty chose the date of the meeting to receive the Freedom of the City of Liverpool; and even our Ambassador in Paris contrived to be for this one day in the county which loves him so well. It would be difficult to imagine a great city more completely given over to one singlehearted resolution, namely, that of getting to Aintree. There was a bitterly cold wind and flurries of snow, but such a tremendous crowd had never been seen at Aintree before. 1) Chess 2) Warbler 3) Cyclades 4) Lactose 5) Eight Riddle me this: A river
32 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Regular peony support, £80, Muntons Traditional Plant Supports (01285 706511; www.muntons.net)
‘…how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow’ Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Organic herbal teas, from £2.19, Heath & Heather (www.heathand heather.co.uk)
Five things you (probably) didn’t know about… Woodcock • In the UK, we have an estimated breeding populationof55,000malewoodcock,butthetotalnumber rises as high as 1.5 million in the winter as birds migrate to our isles, some from as far as Siberia. • The pin feather is a sought-after tool for artists and is said to have been used to paint the gold stripe down the side of Rolls-Royces. • Woodcock can carry their young in flight, often between their thighs, but there have been sightings of birds holding them with their feet, tucked against their breast or even supported by their long beak. • The GWCT runs Woodcock Watch, a project that monitors their movements with GPS tagging. It has witnessed birds migrating incredible distances of more than 4,000 miles and found that the average migration is about 1,900 miles. • A woodcock is cooked guts and all—except for thegizzard—asitemptiesitsstomachbeforeflight. The innards are removed after cooking, spread on toast and eaten like a rich pâté. Sidney Hiscox www.countrylife.co.uk
Oh, the agony! Resident agony uncle Kit Hesketh-Harvey solves your dilemmas
My god-daughter has got the hump with me for cancelling a visit— with plenty of notice—due to works on the train line meaning an eight-hour round trip with no prospect of a Sunday roast. I have had no word from her about this or the presents I sent her children. Should I put her into Room 101? S. B., Hampshire
What to drink this week
Oh do, please, for heaven’s sake—and all our sakes! (So unreasonable appears her reaction that I do wonder if you can be telling me the whole truth.) The rising generation’s eagerness to take offence has reached crisis-level. It must, must be slapped down. Everyone—apart from the Transport Minister, who has his own driver—knows that Sunday rail travel is an inexcusable insult. You gave her notice. By sending presents to her children, who aren’t even technically your god-charges, you’ve proven yourself diligent beyond duty. Let her stew in her own ingratitude, together with the rest of her prickly peers. If that doesn’t return her sharply to reasonable courtesy, then a longer spell, pondering your last will and testament, just might.
Prosecco and Lambrusco
Done well, these styles are still a delight, says Harry Eyres Some wine styles get too popular for their own good. Producers more interested in cost than quality muscle in and the original virtue of the style can be drowned in a sea of mediocrity. This happened in the 1960s and 1970s with Liebfraumilch in Germany and at the same time with Lambrusco in north-central Italy. The extraordinary Prosecco boom is a more recent phenomenon.
Unmissable events Exhibition April 8–27 ‘Seren Bell: New Paintings’ (right), Fosse Gallery, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. Charming pen, ink and colouredpencil studies of farm animals with a backdrop of the Wye Valley (01451 831319; www.fossegallery.com)
Why you should be drinking them All is not lost. Prosecco, made with care and limited yields from good hillside vineyards, needn’t be insipid and sugary. Savoury, dry Lambrusco is a delight, ripe for revival. Unlike Prosecco—essentially, a refreshing aperitif—dry Lambrusco can be drunk with a range of dishes, especially salami, prosciutto and pizza.
Talk April 11 Sepulchral Sculpture: A Sacrificial Mystery, The Gallery, Cowcross Street, London EC1. A talk by Alexander Stoddart, The Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland, who has been involved in the creation of several newly built mausolea. Doors open at 6pm, tickets from £5 (07517 082846; www.mmtrust.org.uk) Gardens April 14 Hanami Festival, Brogdale Collections, Faversham, Kent. Experience the Japanese festival of cherry and plum blossom among the largest collection of fruit trees in the world, with picnics, drumming and sword demonstrations, bonsai displays and more. 10am–4pm, adult tickets £9. There are also hanami picnic experiences running throughout the month (01795 536250; www. brogdalecollections.org) Theatre April 23–May 5 Twelfth Night, The Rose Playhouse, Park Street, London SE1. A modern, musical take on Shakespeare, set on a cruise liner at the height of the roaring 1920s. www.countrylife.co.uk
Tickets £17.50 (020–7261 9565; www.roseplayhouse.org.uk)
£150pp (020–8964 4398; www. shaneconnolly.co.uk)
Book now May 29 Floral Taster Day, Shane Connolly & Company, Latimer Road, London W10. Royal Warrant-holder Shane Connolly will demonstrate how to display flowers both naturally and seasonally, using no floral foam, then help you to create your own hand-tied bouquet to take home. 9.30am–12pm or 2pm–4pm,
July 8–12 Landscape painting workshop, Cowdray Park, Midhurst, West Sussex. Five days of tuition with David Cranswick exploring the classical methods used by 17th- and 18th-century artists, from mixing colours to creating the illusion of distance and glazing. Suitable for beginners or experienced artists. £420pp (07801 430194; www.davidcranswick.com)
Whitfield, Wormbridge, Herefordshire HR2 9BA. April 7, 2pm–5pm. Admission £5, children free This garden’s setting, with views stretching from lawns and yew topiary or more natural meadow to a landscape of parkland rising to wooded slopes, is memorable in itself. You will discover an array of delights, from a variety of magnolias to early wildflowers, the walled garden and a long woodland walk, with a renowned grove of towering redwoods dating from 1851 (www.ngs.org.uk).
Getty Images/iStock/Alamy; Popperfoto/Getty Imagse; Paul Sawer/FLPA; Seren Bell
April 4–May 11 ‘Gillian Ayres: Song Beneath the Stars’, Alan Cristea Gallery, Pall Mall, London SW1. A celebration of the extraordinary career of the late artist, spanning 50 years and charting her passion for printmaking (020– 7439 1866; www.alancristea.com)
What to buy Prosecco Treviso Spumante Brut (£12.95; www.leaandsandeman. co.uk) from Luca Follador is fresh and peary with juicy acidity. A step up is Follador’s single-vineyard 2018 Prosecco Superiore Villa Luigia Brut (below, £14.95; www.leaandsande man.co.uk). Prosecco, by law, must be white, but Follador’s Cuvée Rosé Spumante Rosato Brut (£12.95; www.leaandsandeman.co.uk) is a pink Prosecco in all but name— it’s very pale in colour, crisp and refreshing. A good introduction to dry Lambrusco is Vecchio Moro Lambrusco Grasparossa Rinaldini (£11.50; www.thewinesociety.com): it’s fresh, tangy and not without tannic structure. Lambrusco Classico from Monte delle Vigne (£12.75; www.leaandsandeman. co.uk) is an enticing deep purple, only lightly frizzante and bursting with black-cherry fruit. Monte delle Vigne’s 2017 Lambrusco I Calanchi (£16.95; www.lea andsandeman.co.uk) is a select cuvée, deep purple again, this time more minerally than fruity and appetisingly dry. Country Life, April 3, 2019 33
Letters to the Editor Letter of the week
What a scream
VERSION of The Scream by Edvard Munch is being displayed at the British Museum with his inscription: ‘I felt the great scream throughout nature.’ Nature is indeed awe-inspiring, whether in the form of a magnificent sunset or just finding a special pebble. Inspired by The Pebbles on the Beach by Clarence Ellis—an extract of which appeared in COUNTRY L IFE (August 29, 2018) —I found this ovoid pebble, which cried out at me at Durdle Door, Dorset. Anna Cornell, Surrey
The writer of the letter of the week will win a bottle of Pol Roger Brut Réserve Champagne
The bare cheek of it
Y attention was drawn to the correspondent commenting on wedding outfits (Letters, March 27). Perhaps the illustration of a red hat was rather unfortunate, as I was brought up to believe the maxim ‘Red hat, no drawers’! Brian Grindall, Isle of Arran
On your bike
NE of the photographs illustrating the piece on Hamptworth Lodge, Hampshire (March 13), was captioned ‘a curious exercise bicycle’. It actually shows a scientific instrument of about 1800, known as a waywiser—all estates would have had one to measure parcels of land. The modern equivalent would be a pedometer. Glynn Stockdale, Cheshire
Raise your voices
T was heartening to read of the initiative to promote birdsong (Town & Country, March 6). The RSPB is a fine organisation, but the plain fact is that it and other organisations are failing in their mission to protect wildlife. A reduction in wild birds of 25% in one generation is shocking evidence of our impact on the environment. Conservation bodies don’t coordinate their campaigns anywhere near
enough: they are even in competition with one another. Until their combined voices can be mobilised, why should politicians (with whom the potential for effective action ultimately resides) pay anything other than lip service to conservation issues? If six million people can be marshalled to sign a Brexit petition in days, couldn’t something on the same scale be done for our environment? Simon Marquis, by email
Pages from the past
OUR article on the first property advertising in COUNTRY LIFE (Property comment, February 27) sent me scurrying to my drawer of memorabilia. When my house was rewired, a pristine copy of COUNTRY LIFE ILLUSTRATED dated January 8, 1897, price 6d, was found under the floorboards. In this issue, Messrs Walton and Lee, Land Agents and Surveyors, offer eight properties—one being Stowe House, another a mansion that was ‘heated and installed with electric light’. The Frontispiece isn’t of some pretty young thing, but of the moustachioed Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire (right). My house was built by the Earl of Gainsborough in 1856, as a hunting lodge, then purchased by the Church Commissioners in the 1890s. Why a magazine should be hidden under a bedroom floor by a recto or, more likely, his servants, remains a mystery Shirley Campbell, Leicestershire
MUCH enjoyed the article on Sir Edwin Lutyens (‘Our greatest architect?’, March 20), whom I knew as a child. I always thought he was a rather curious little man, but recall his penchant for playing shove ha’penny
using tablemats on the polished diningroom table. This always gave us great entertainment, but how fascinating that the great architect could find such pleasure in this simple game. Catherine Larthe, Gloucestershire
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34 Country Life, April 3, 2019
HE writer of your letter of the week on insect decline (February 27) advises that the public shouldn’t use chemicals in their gardens—please, oh please, may they listen. I farm a herb nursery on the outskirts of Edinburgh and we are completely chemical free—I wouldn’t even use ‘organic chemicals’. I will only use a plant to heal a plant and I call it natural farming. For example, we have a glasshouse the size of a football pitch, in which there’s a thriving ecosystem, with wrens, caterpillars, spiders and ant nests. If I were to use even an ‘organic wash’, it would break that delicate balance of life by taking out what I deemed a pest. Plants are just like us—if we catch a cold or flu, it’s because our bodies are weak and unable to fight off the bug. If a plant is weak, it becomes a good host for aphids, therefore, you need to assess what changes you can make to help the plant. Hamish Martin, Edinburgh
COUNTRY LIFE APRIL 10
tuck in to and taste m or two of ish whisky; rchitectural orticultural f Surrey; game of thrones s , y k, with a COUNTRY LIFE subscription 0330 333 1120 www.countrylife.co.uk
Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo, Norway/Bridgeman Images; Sarah Readman; Justin Paget/Country Life Picture Library; Dr T. J. Martin/Getty; Country Life Picture Library; sandra standbridge/Getty; Fiona Osbaldstone
Farming for Nature
Let the train take the strain
F you say ‘railway’ in Britain, people think ‘passenger’. No one seems to care about freight, although we rightly moan about heavy lorries on our roads, winding their way through villages and market towns, clogging up motorways and poisoning the air. You’d have thought that governments of all colours would recognise the huge advantages of getting more and more of our traffic onto rail. After all, that’s what has happened in other European countries, but, in the UK, it’s been a struggle even to attract ministers’ attention. The four big rail-freight companies have had to recover from the loss of their coal contracts and the downturn in British steel production with precious little public interest. Coal was their lifeblood and, when we began to close down coal-fired power stations, it hit them hard. Now, the specialised coal wagons have been re-engineered to carry other cargoes. The boom in construction has brought about more demand for sand and gravel and some supermarkets and other consumer businesses have turned to rail to fulfil their environmental promises. There’s so much more that could be done, however, and it’s not only that governments have been indifferent—they’ve positively hampered the growth of rail freight. The drive to reduce the cost of the system by selling off railway land was done with little concern for goods traffic. Houses and blocks of flats have been built close to railheads without planning requirements for proper sound insulation, so residents, understandably, object to the noise from freight operations. If business increases, so do the complaints. Local councils understandably pay attention to their electors and pay little regard to the wider impact of the restrictions they impose. The railhead problems are largely in the cities, but the effect is felt all over the countryside. If we carried more by train, we could unload
at suitable points and deliver locally by smaller vehicles more suited to country roads. We could borrow techniques from the airline industry and sort goods into lightweight standard containers for easier offloading. We could make much more use of spare rail capacity outside commuter times and the shift from petrol and diesel to electric vans and cargo bikes offers an opportunity for cleaner, quieter local delivery from centres served by rail. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re doing. Our transport plans never prioritise freight. Where there’s a choice between goods and passengers, the case for goods is rarely put. There’s no national programme to encourage a shift from road to rail, so regional organisations such as Transport for London are not required to take account of the transport of goods. It’s therefore not surprising that, in our railmodernisation schemes, the need to electrify longdistance freight routes —recognised in the rest of Northern Europe—has been ignored. We can find money for road-building programmes, but pennypinch when it comes to the railways. Even when Government is taking the environment seriously, the value of moving from road to rail isn’t on the agenda. The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced an allelectric road-vehicle fleet by 2040, but that wasn’t paralleled on rail. Rail freight plays no part in the Business Department’s programme to meet our commitments to fight climate change, but both town and country need to get goods off the roads and onto rail. Government must recognise that imperative and plan accordingly—muddling along is not good enough. Our competitors on the Continent have recognised the need. It’s time we woke up to the challenge and gave the Rail Minister the authority and resources to get the job done.
Governments have positively hampered the growth of rail freight
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Country Life, April 3, 2019 35
Fred van Deelen
Is free museum admission sustainable?
THENA has long been impressed by the generosity with which the British share their cultural treasures. The UK’s national museums, subsidised by taxpayers, make available their treasures for free to citizens of the world. The most recently released visitor figures indicate what spectacular numbers take advantage of this arrangement: in 2018, the three most visited (all in London)—Tate Modern, the British Museum, the National Gallery—received a staggering 17,432,945 visitors. However, perhaps it’s time to slaughter —or, for vegans, ‘retire’—the sacred cow of free admission. The idea that admittance without charge to national museums was a bedrock of British cultural policy is the product of a past era in which there
was a great degree of State intervention and subsidy to those museums, not to mention relatively low expectations of the ‘visitor experience’ on the part of the public. Those realities are long changed. The national museums are, in relative terms, considerably more independent than ever, Government subsidies are considerably less and the audience now expects museums to have excellent shops and catering, as well as better displays and improved amenities. The old economic model neither works nor makes sense.
Private philanthropy will not be enough to keep so many ships afloat Indeed, its failure is evident in the fact that ‘free’ institutions are forced to charge high prices for their special exhibitions. Not too long ago, the estimable Sir Roy Strong proposed that admission charges could be used to subsidise cheaper tickets for the young, who are often priced out of the shows the rest of the museum-going public are clamouring to see. That’s one
suggestion. Another is that British citizens —perhaps all EU citizens—could have free admission and visitors from other countries could pay. Or free admission could be for the young, the old, the unemployed and students, with all others paying. An encouraging recent precedent for the redistribution of money in a similar way comes from the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Here, the implementation of a compulsory $25 (£19) admission charge has been a resounding success, allowing nearly $3 million (£2.29m) from that admission income to be distributed to smaller, more challenged institutions in the city, such as the Studio Museum in Harlem and El Museo del Barrio. What is certain is that, if charges aren’t introduced, maintaining the excellence of Britain’s national museums will be increasingly difficult. Private philanthropy will not be enough to keep so many ships afloat, especially if—in the light of the controversy over some Sackler family donations—these need to be vetted. Athena thinks that now is the time for a reasoned national debate on this issue, but worries that today’s febrile political atmosphere may make such an approach impossible. Sadly, in this instance, business as usual is a recipe for decline.
The way we were Photographs from the COUNTRY LIFE archive
Alfred E. Henson/©Country Life Picture Library
A farmhand rides his horses to water at a lake with a backdrop of mountains. No location was recorded for this archive photograph—do any of our readers recognise the scene?
The COUNTRY LIFE Picture Library contains 120 years’ worth of photography and articles from the world’s leading architectural and gardens experts. Many are available to license or purchase in print form from £28 plus VAT. Please email enquiries to clpicture @ti-med
36 Country Life, April 3, 2019
‘This is a fabulous moment’
The economist and Government advisor on why this is a good time for Nature
TURNED out to be an oddball,’ says the economist Dieter Helm. We’re in his rooms at New College, Oxford, a comfortable interior with little on the walls except a guide to apple varieties. He’s explaining how he got here, from the Essex marshes where his grandfather farmed and his father had arrived as a prisoner of war. ‘My father’s view was that the war had ruined his life,’ recalls Prof Helm. ‘He had to start again from scratch, in a country that hated Germans. We had no books in the house beyond car magazines and a German-English dictionary, but he saved everything and got an education for his children. I went to a minor prep school and public school, which I loathed, and somehow I decided to go to Oxford. I was utterly determined. I had no idea what Oxford was like, but arrived and thought I’d come to Heaven.’ He’s been in heaven ever since: ‘A beautiful college, surrounded by people who care about the public benefit, with lots of fascinating research going on. Is there a more interesting place on the planet?’ Prof Helm talks with such masterful fluency that I almost think I can understand the concepts that underlie his work: ‘Most economists are utilitarians.’ No, he’s lost me, but I can grasp some of the ideas: ‘I don’t think about people as consumers, but as citizens who are entitled to transport, electricity and now broadband.’ They’re also entitled to Nature, he adds, an asset that, once depleted beyond a certain point, can’t be renewed. In 2012, he persuaded the coalition Government to establish a Natural Capital Committee, which he chairs, reporting to the Treasury. The idea that lapwings, soil fertility and glorious landscapes should feature on the national balance sheet, alongside GDP, is no longer laughed at. 38 Country Life, April 3, 2019
‘The economic returns for investing in Nature are huge, much bigger than for HS2.’ Prof Helm’s new book, Green and Prosperous Land (Review, March 6), explains Nature in terms of the pounds, shillings and pence that his Treasury friends can understand. ‘I wrote it because I want stuff to happen. I’m not a purist, I’m a pragmatist.’ Agriculture gets short shrift: ‘We get so little for our money. The sector contributes £9 billion to GDP, £3 billion of which comes from subsidy. Farmers are paid to own land, which is capitalised in high land price, which stops young people getting into the industry. They have red diesel, which is exempt from carbon taxes, they’re exempt from business rates and inheritance taxes and they pay for none of the pollution that they cause.’ The last point particularly rankles. ‘Walking by the Thames the other day, I saw some land ploughed right up to the bank. Think of the run-off—the amount of silt and pesticide that will go into the water. The chemical in slug pellets is almost impossible to get out of water. And we pay for the clean-up through our water bills. It’s nuts.’ Prof Helm cares because, now 62, he’s a country boy at heart. Even as an undergraduate, he couldn’t live in town. ‘I don’t
comprehend how you could have a good life without understanding the seasons,’ he says. ‘I love cooking. I love gardening. I love fly-fishing.’ Catching fish is no longer important, however. ‘I’ll be standing in a sea pool in the Outer Hebrides, with the wind hurtling past me. Whoopers and barnacle geese will be coming down from Iceland. Isn’t that what life’s about?’
The economic returns for investing in Nature are huge, much bigger than for HS2 He grows vegetables and fruit at his house near Oxford, although his wife does the aesthetics of gardening. His Exmoor house is high up for fruit trees, but Brogdale suggested suitable varieties. To Prof Helm, the natural world isn’t simply an abstract ‘public good’, it’s personal. As a boy, his nose was rarely out of the Observer Book of Birds. Decades later, he’s equally focused on the collapse of insect populations, the erosion of the Fens and the madness of growing maize to feed anaerobic digesters. He’s angry—
On the record
Dieter Helm’s Green and Prosperous Land: A Blueprint for Rescuing the British Countryside (HarperCollins) is out now Where is your favourite place? Great Bay, St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly, Exmoor or a sea pool in North Uist Favourite building? Front Quad, New College, Oxford Book? Death of a Naturalist (Seamus Heaney) Music? Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell) Food? Langoustines at Langass Lodge, North Uist Alternative career? Horticulture Dinner guests? The Fellows of New College Who is your hero? Nobel prizewinner Amartya Sen, my DPhil supervisor and much else
there’s no doubting that—but not defeatist. ‘This is a fabulous moment. There have been three great events in the history of the countryside since the Second World War: the 1947 Agriculture Act, our entry into what became the European Union—and now.’ He emphasises the last. The professor claims to be apolitical, but ‘if there’s one good thing about Brexit, it’s that we’ll get out of the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy]. It’s forced us to have a new Agriculture Act. The old model has run out of road’. We must, he says, stop building over the countryside, make the Green Belt greener and provide many more homes. Impossible? ‘Go around any urban area —there are plenty of places to put houses. We shouldn’t be tagging on 500 houses to every village in Oxfordshire. We’re one of the most crowded countries in the world, yet we’ve managed to maintain such wonderful open spaces. The 1947 Town and Country Planning Act may not have had all the answers, but was a conscious effort to think about where to put houses.’ Council houses, he says, were better than a sprawl of executive homes. ‘Don’t squander natural capital,’ he warns. ‘The effect will be irreversible.’ Fortunately, technology could rescue the situation, in what’s being called the Fourth Agricultural Revolution: ‘No industry in the world is changing faster.’ Farming could become more productive, through the use of satellite data, vertical farming and other efficiencies. ‘There will be less pressure on the environment if we do it properly.’ Many environmentalists picture the natural world as being irreversibly doomed, but does Prof Helm think he’s winning against the odds? The answer is typically emphatic: ‘Yes.’ Clive Aslet www.countrylife.co.uk
Country Life, April 3, 2019 39
High on a hill lived a lonely laird
Illustration: Clare Mackie
N direst January, the lovelorn laird from the west threw in the towel and fled south. Prowling the streets of Ullapool with a salmon landing net and a bouquet of wilting chrysanthemums hadn’t landed our friend a lady to share the lonely bothy where he and his mum hang out. The average age of the three Tinder respondents in his Highland orbit is 83 and none is rich. For a man still in his early forties, to shack up with any of them would have been reckless, so it was swipe left and head for London. He called me from there with an update. Thanks to a new dating app, affairs had got rather zingy. He had met a nice Tajik NHS bowel specialist from Uzbekistan. His medic worked night shifts in emergency admissions, which absolved the laird from having a full-time day job if they were actually to see each other. The pillow talk was electrifying: an eye-watering encyclopaedia of the objects Londoners get stuck inside their nether regions. It must have provided a Tajik with a fundamental insight into contemporary Britain. Life was a bowl of cherries until the laird got a Mondaymorning text dismissing him, without coffee. In retrospect, he thinks the very understated sense of urgency that he, like the average West Highlander, customarily displays may not have matched the more driven ambitions of a career surgeon. She was more clinical, was how he saw it. He did make an attempt to impress his beloved by landing a job as a part-time management consultant. A short period in such a role in Africa some 15 years ago gave him hope, but, come the interview, much of the jargon had deserted him. He noticed his interviewers looking increasingly perplexed as his presentation progressed. At its conclusion, they asked if he had invented the management-speak 40 Country Life, April 3, 2019
As parents, we don’t seem to be “woke”. We are perhaps comatose beyond salvation he used. Proudly, he admitted that was, indeed, the case. Bizarrely, instead of rewarding initiative, they showed him the door. When he told the medic this sad tale, she looked less than impressed. Clinical was probably right. She lacked the poetic sensibility you need to appreciate the laird. Now, as funds run low, he must face the lonely trek north without a mate, like a solitary greylag returning to Greenland.
owever, spring is on its way, even in the West Highlands. I suggested he try the Roy Brooks sales pitch. Brooks, you may recall, was a charismatic London estate agent who brought the
classic British talent for understatement to new depths in the 1960s. A typical ad read: ‘Brokendown Battersea bargain. Erected at the end of long reign of increasingly warped moral & aesthetic values, it’s what you’d expect— hideous, redeemed only by the integrity of the plebs who built it.’ If this wheeze could sell brokendown properties, surely it could do the same for their owners. Something along the lines of: ‘West hielan’ laddie (42), blanket bog farmer, seeks lassie handy with gralloching knife, at home in oilskins and big enough not to be blown away; home-improvement skills and wide taste in Alexander Brothers music an advantage; monthly trip pillion by motor scooter to Ullapool Co-op guaranteed (summer only); interests include home dentistry and collecting old Tizer bottles.’ That’s sure to bring the nutbrown maidens flocking.
uring prep for an influx of Glasgow university students, Marge asked our daughter
whether her transgender friends were gluten-free. Jeanie patiently explained to her mother that the party included a gay person, a vegan and a coeliac. If there had been some transgenders, they might or might not have had a gluten allergy. Laugh as you may, you can see where Marge was coming from. Any group of young these days seems to contain a liquorice allsorts of dietary and sexual orientation ‘isms’, the subtleties of which are often quite beyond us. Erroneous pronouns fly this way and that and vast amounts of food go to waste. In short, as parents, we don’t seem to be ‘woke’. We are perhaps comatose beyond salvation. Driving Jeanie and two young men into Inverness to run a half marathon on a day of sleety flurries, Marge offered the Lycraclad athletes hot-water bottles, pink knitted mittens and warm wraps made from the fur of a variety of long-dead animals. Her motherliness was exemplary, but I could see another ‘ism’ moment coming. Pink has become a divisive colour and fur can lead to some warm differences. The mittens and furs were swiftly shuffled into a basket— Jeanie said it made her deliciously hot just with the annoyance of looking at them—and the cowardly hotties politely refused. The following day came news that ScotGov is consulting the people about its proposed ban on smacking children. I plan to ask if there is truth in the rumour that the UK Government will erect signs at the border saying ‘last chance to smack children before entering Scotland’, but that’s probably not very woke.
Joe Gibbs lives at Belladrum in the Highlands and is the founder of the Tartan Heart Festival (August 1-3, www. tartanheartfestival.co.uk) Next week Robin Page www.countrylife.co.uk
My favourite painting Sir Peter Osborne Comtesse d’Haussonville by Ingres
Sir Peter Osborne is chairman of Osborne & Little, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year
My favourite museum is the Frick in New York. I probably could have chosen half a dozen “favourite paintings” from there alone. There are couple of reasons why I finally picked this one: in the first place, no one painted silk quite as well as Ingres. The ruffles and creases and shimmers are unbelievably lifelike; you just want to take a handful of the taffeta and crunch it between your fingers. And then there’s that extraordinary gaze of hers, how confident and proud –she was, after all, born a princess– but, at the same time, how alluring and seductive, her eyes following you as you walk past her. Add to this what we know about her, a formidable intellect and prolific essayist, and I have to say it’s an obvious favourite
Comtesse d’Haussonville, 1845, by JeanAuguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867), 52in by 36¼in, The Frick Collection, New York, USA
The Frick Collection
John McEwen comments on Comtesse d’Haussonville
ouise de BrogLie, Countess d’HAussonviLLe (1818–82), was a daughter of the long-established Broglie dynasty, her father a statesman, a diplomat and a member of the French Academy. she was a granddaughter of Madame de staël, a formidable writer and saloniste. the Countess’s husband, a diplomat and writer, was also an academician. she was outspokenly liberal and independent and would later write novels, essays and biographies—of Byron, among others. By the 1840s, having achieved fame as a portraitist, ingres was devoted to the
42 Country Life, April 3, 2019
higher, but less lucrative art of history painting. this portrait was one of only two he accepted at the time. it was a second attempt. the Countess had found the long sessions wearisome, complaining that nine days had been taken to paint one hand, and then she became pregnant with her third child. the new portrait shows her in a silktaffeta dress, a robe de petit dîner, today’s equivalent of a cocktail dress. daywear would have prescribed a hat; an afternoon or evening at the opera or Comédie Française called only for combs and a decorative ribbon. An apparently discarded shawl
and handkerchief enforce this interpretation, as do the barely visible opera glasses standing beside the pile of calling cards. the apparently all-seeing eye for detail is balanced by a strict and pleasing sense of formal design. At its finish, ingres was disappointed, but the Countess’s father was delighted and, as ingres wrote: ‘Finally to crown the work, M. thiers [acquaintance, former Prime Minister and future President]… came to see it… and repeated this wicked remark: “M. ingres must be in love with you to have painted you that way.”’
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A walking life
Magical Minsmere under threat The reality of the plans for Sizewell C and D on the peaceful Suffolk coast come as a shock
Y piece about Otmoor and the threat to lovely countryside between Oxford and Cambridge drew an amazing response (Walking life, December 12, 2018)—thank you and I hope someone’s listening! That countryside is vulnerable because it’s not designated, but that’s not the case far to the east, where the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB is threatened by massive infrastructure projects that make my battles of the 1980s seem like skirmishes. Like me, you may know there are plans for a third nuclear power station at Sizewell, but I hadn’t appreciated how much more this rare heathland coast is being asked to take (William Kendall’s My Week, February 20).
The peace and silence feel suddenly fragile, ephemeral In fact, it’s more accurate to speak of Sizewell C and D, because there are two proposed reactors, which will require nearly 750 acres of land, almost all within the AONB, sites to dump spoil, hold materials and provide temporary housing for a workforce of 2,400 construction workers, plus a massive new ‘relief’ road, which promises to bring anything but relief to those affected when it carries potentially up to 1,500 HGVs every day. I love the Suffolk coast, which, for me, means huge skies, the evocative memory of drowned church bells at Dunwich, Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes, the shingle beaches with their swirling pebbles and the quiet remoteness of Minsmere, where you can lose yourself between the head-high reed beds and scented heathland. My decision to walk there was driven by wanting my ‘fix’, as well as seeing where the proposed development would go. We begin at The Eel’s Foot in Eastbridge, whose welcoming hosts offer us their ‘special’—a smoked-fish rarebit, worth a journey in its own right. We set off walking south towards Leiston’s Old Abbey Farm, before turning coastward along the Sandlings Walk. We’re shocked when, within a few hundred yards and still distant from the existing plant, we learn that the quiet fields around us are
44 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Will all this be lost? Jennie Fletcher’s Minsmere Walk II captures the area’s wild peace
all part of the plan. Quarries here, a holding ground for spoil heaps up to 115ft high there; a natural, reed-fringed pool gobbled up, a huge field designated for the multi-storey workers’ campus. And, scything through it all, a new access road that will cut a swathe through Sizewell Marshes SSSI. We continue towards the existing reactors, our path now sandy, winding through graceful, mature pines. The peace and silence feel suddenly fragile, ephemeral. Sizewell A is box-like, grey, hunching among trees; B is a graceful sphere, almost invisible against the slate-coloured sky. We don’t love them, we agree, but they have, in their way, become part of life here. It’s the hugeness of the new proposals that makes us shudder. All of a sudden, we’re at the edge of the forest, crossing a rickety bridge, passing a mass of brilliant-yellow broom to the beach. Equally suddenly, the sun comes out and, looking north with the reactors behind us, we’re seized by the full glory of the Suffolk coast and overwhelmingly happy to be there.
Uplifted, we walk up the beach, the wind buffeting and pebbles gleaming. We can see to Walberswick and the coastguards’ cottages at Dunwich catch the light. We walk on top of the bank, the pools of Minsmere on our left. As we plunge into the marsh, seabirds wheeling above us, a new landscape unfolds. Now, we’re explorers, seeking out the path between the meres and the moor, until we reach the hide where Spineless Si the stickleback won attention in Springwatch. We approach it quietly and—yes—there it is, the quiet, persistent boom of a bittern, a sound that was almost lost to the English landscape. We return to The Eel’s Foot quietly, absorbed by the magic of Minsmere, shocked by what’s proposed. If you’re worried, too, watch this film on www.sizewellhero.org and let your views be known. Fiona Reynolds is Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and the author of ‘The Fight for Beauty’ Follow her on Twitter @fionacreynolds
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The tale of the little pigs
HEY’RE livestock,’ says Sarah Sladen firmly of her endearing, multi-coloured collection of Kunekunes that are grunting winsomely up at us in the hope of food, ‘and we’re working hard to promote them as meat pigs.’ She has her British Kunekune Pig Society (BKKPS) committee member’s hat on, highlighting the dilemma faced by some keepers of these hairy little pigs from New Zealand. The Kunekune—‘fat and round’ in Maori —is shorter in the leg and more compact than any British pig breed; it weighs up to 240lb, compared with up to 700lb for a Tamworth boar. They convert into tasty hams and sausages, but are also cuddly and comical and produce adorable, titchy piglets. This is why, points out the BKKPS, many animals graze their way into old age instead of making it to the butcher. ‘If you are concerned that you may get overly attached to your pigs before they go for slaughter, it really is worth deciding from the outset that you won’t give them names,’ advises its website.
Meet a Kunekune and you’ll be smitten, say owners. Kate Green talks to enthusiasts for the small pig that’s been winning hearts since its arrival from New Zealand a quarter-century ago
If you feel stressed, sit down with a Kunekune and tickle its tummy That’s an owner’s prerogative, of course, but the cuteness factor, combined with the global trend for expensive, handbag-sized pets such as Vietnamese pot-bellied pig crosses that walk on diamante leads, means the farming industry doesn’t take Kunekunes as seriously as they deserve, despite the BKKPS’s membership of nearly 500 being healthier than for any other native pig breed. The Kunekune also provides the perfect introduction to pig-keeping; all the same principles as for a Middle White or Saddleback, but on a more manageable scale. Mrs Sladen bought her first two, with a friend, in an auction at a fair at Cheam prep school; the pigs started a smallholding hobby, which has expanded into a wider environmental stewardship farming enterprise. She has three boars out on hire and tends to build up numbers—‘I’ve had up to 20’—before having a cull. ‘Other pig breeds you can kill for meat at nine months, but Kunekunes are slower maturing and take a year.’ BKKPS chairman Kevin Kersley, whose nine Kunekunes (stud prefix Pencommins) share acreage in Ceredigion with his other passion, Belgian draught horses, admits: ‘I don’t mind if people want to keep them as pets, as long as they keep them as pigs. Cuddly and comical, the tiny pigs’ name Kunekune means ‘fat and round’ in Maori
Country Life, April 3, 2019 47
The ‘Jack Russell’ of the pig world, Kunekunes can be black, cream, ginger or spotted, but all will produce sweet, tasty meat
I don’t eat mine because I show them and spend a lot of time with them—it would feel like eating my dog—but I do happily eat the meat. It’s sweet and has fantastic marbling.’ The Kunekune is ‘the Jack Russell of the pig world’, declares Mr Kersley. ‘You can have black, cream, ginger, spotted ones, long or short-legged ones, with long or short noses, but what they have in common is their lovely temperament. You can interact with them and they’re particularly great for starting children off in keeping animals, as the kids are more likely to keep their fingers.’
John Millar/Country Life Picture Library
They’re particularly great for starting children off in keeping animals The Kunekune is probably descended from the animals explorers and navigators would drop off onto Pacific islands to breed for future ready meals. The Maoris, for whom fat meant beautiful, are thought to have taken the pig from Polynesia to New Zealand, which doesn’t have any indigenous mammals. Here, the breed was saved from extinction in the 1970s by two wildlife park owners, Michael Willis and John Simister, who scoured the country to buy every pig they could find —18 in all (the UK now has about 1,000). 48 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Then, in the early 1990s, two Britons, former riding instructor Zoe Lindop and her then partner, Andrew Calveley, were grafting rosebushes near Christchurch in New Zealand. ‘The nearest place to eat was the Willowbank wildlife park. Halfway through every meal, there would be a tour of the park and there I saw the Kunekunes,’ Miss Lindop recalls. ‘I thought they were charming and kept going back. Once you’ve met a Kune, you’re smitten, and when we realised how endangered they were, in a moment of madness, we decided to bring them home.’ This proved tricky because, although there was a protocol between the two countries, no one had ever used it. Eventually, the pigs were allowed onto a flight carrying horses, including those belonging to British-based Olympic event rider Blyth Tait. ‘When we went to the airport, it was a Who’s Who of the eventing and Thoroughbred worlds plus my little pigs,’ laughs Miss Lindop. Enthusiasm spread quickly; there are now 40-plus registered breeders in Britain, with lines exported to the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium. ‘It was a case of right time, right place. I didn’t have to do any work—everyone came to me,’ admits Miss Lindop, who’s now president of the BKKPS. ‘I brought them here with the intention of their being the perfect smallholder’s pig. There’s a lot of pigs I’d be terrified of, but, if you feel stressed, sit down with a Kunekune and tickle its tummy. They’re the nicest people.’
Keeping Kunekunes The BKKPS recommends about five pigs per acre and warns that they have a tendency to run to fat, especially they are if fed a lot of concentrates. ‘They’re kind to land and they won’t root if they’ve got enough good grazing,’ advises Mr Kersley. ‘I’ve found that it’s when the grass is lacking that they go underground. If you watch them closely, you can prevent ground disturbance by upping the concentrates.’ Miss Lindop suggests that the Kunekune’s arrival here was a timely precursor to the rise in enthusiasm for food provenance and the meat of grassreared livestock. ‘I could see the writing on the wall about where it [meat-eating] was going,’ she says. ‘A smallholder’s pet is essentially a pet that’s useful and provides food and those who are selling them for meat are now doing well and have a following. ‘The meat is slow-reared, very succulent and has a touch of wild boar about the taste. We think it would make very good charcuterie. We’ve waited a long time for this success and I think we’re getting there now.’ For information on buying and keeping Kunekunes, visit the BKKPS website at www.britishkunekunesociety. org.uk
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Bathing in beauty The Roman Baths, Bath, Somerset
In the late 19th century, the eponymous hot baths of this city were recast in their modern form. Clive Aslet describes this fascinating transformation Photographs by Paul Highnam
n 1871, the city architect of Bath, Maj Charles Edward Davis, was worried about a leak from the King’s Bath. next to the Pump Room, this was the largest of the four public baths in the city and visitors had been soaking themselves in its hot, malodorous waters since the early Middle Ages. With semicircular recesses in which they could rest and overlooked by a statue of Bath’s mythical founder, King Bladud, it formed part of a magnificently eclectic architectural ensemble; a drawing of 1675 shows a fanciful pavilion in the centre and a strapwork balcony on which spectators could lean to survey the men and women below— bathing was then mixed and naked. Victorian Bath was more demure, but failing. Although it continued to advertise the curative properties of its waters—good for rheumatism, gout, palsy and general debility —the Georgian heyday was long over. Seaside resorts had captured the summer market and Bath’s winter season was eclipsed by that of newcomers, such as Harrogate. The escape of water from the King’s Bath, lowering its level, symbolised a wider decline. To investigate the leak, Davis used powerful pumps to remove a mixture of mud, Roman tiles and old building materials to a depth of 20ft. This revealed the bottom of a Roman bath, lined with lead. Work had to stop when the owner of the 18th-century Duke of Kingston’s Bath nearby objected to the loss of water, but Davis returned to the task later in the decade, when the Bath Corporation obtained the rights to the water. A builder was employed to tunnel along an ancient drain, 6ft below ground. Partially collapsed, the drain was little more than Fig 1: Steam rises from the Roman bath, lost until it was excavated after 1870 50 Country Life, April 3, 2019
By the end of the 1st century ad, the first phase of a large bathing complex had been built, the main part of which was a pool, big enough to swim in. It was first covered by a pitched roof and later by a prodigious vault. Next to the baths was a temple to Sulis Minerva, the native deity Sulis having been fused with the Romans’ own Minerva. The podium of the temple had been identified by Scott’s archaeologically minded clerk of works James Irvine, when an old inn that had stood on Stall Street was demolished in the late 1860s. Otherwise, the baths and temple, which lay far beneath the level of the 19th-century streets, had disappeared. One may wonder how such a total eclipse of these large buildings could have occurred. The answer partly lies in two destructive events. The Battle of Dyrham was fought a few miles away in 577: the surviving RomanoBritons who had held Bath were driven west and it was seized by the West Saxons.
Davis had no compunction in destroying much of the King’s Bath
Fig 2: The Pump Room extension (right) was built by John Brydon in 1897 to be a concert hall and museum above the newly opened bath, destroying ancient houses in the process
a yard in height; there was no light and steam from the hot spring got ever more intense as the tunnellers worked their way along it. Eventually, they found that they were progressing in parallel to a large Roman wall. Davis drained the King’s Bath, dug through its bottom and found that it was directly above the source of the hot spring, still gushing into the lead-lined reservoir into which Romans had thrown precious offerings to the goddess Sulis Minerva. By modern standards, Davis’s methods were high-handed. He had no compunction in destroying much of the King’s Bath, which now represents an interesting phase of the site’s development. It is also just as well that he did not know of the many coins and finds that lay amid the silt and rubble at the bottom of the reservoir; they were left undisturbed until the systematic excavation by Barry Cunliffe in 1979–80. 52 Country Life, April 3, 2019
In 1088, Bath suffered again when it was burnt by Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances in a rebellion against King William Rufus. When the antiquary John Leland visited Bath after the Dissolution, he found that statues and funerary monuments were among the ‘divers notable antiquitees’ that medieval builders had used as stones for the town wall. The magnificent buildings from which these carvings had come had to wait another four centuries before Davis dug out the drain. Davis was not an easy man. Born in 1827, he was the son of an architect, Edward Davis,
Nevertheless, the city we know today owes the recovery of its most famous landmark to Davis. Although he was personally unsuccessful in his attempt to shape the way it looks, he paved the way for a more distinguished architect, John McKean Brydon. Bath is not as closely associated with Brydon as it is with John Wood (Elder and Younger), Thomas Baldwin or even the restorer of the Abbey (Fig 2), Sir George Gilbert Scott, yet he did as much as anyone to shape the heart of the city. The Baths were not the only thing that drew the Romans to Aquae Sulis: it was the point at which the Fosse Way crossed the Avon and they built a fort here. But it was unlike all other settlements. The sacred steaming waters that poured, orange with their burden of minerals, from a fissure in the rock came from the only hot spring in Britain (Fig 5). How welcome they must have been to men and women used to warmer climes. www.countrylife.co.uk
who had trained with Soane. Having married in 1858, he began to make a name for himself, winning a competition for a cemetery. This led to his appointment as city architect and surveyor in 1863—the year he designed an escritoire that was to be Bath’s wedding present for the Princess of Wales. Relations with his employers were often strained, however. They objected to his month-long holidays and absences with the Worcestershire militia (from which he derived the rank he invariably used). Tradesmen and neighbours in Pulteney Street, where he lived, were regularly bitten by the Scotch deerhounds he bred. In Exposed, a recent account of Davis’s activities in Bath, Doc Watson describes how Davis sent an offending dog out of the county, rather than submitting to a court order to have it put down. As regards the excavation, his zeal was accompanied by an almost comic lack of finesse in his dealings with the city council. Hints as to the glories that lay under the streets of Bath had been given during the 18th century. In 1727, work on a new sewer had unearthed the golden head of Minerva that was once part of the temple’s statue. Twenty-eight years later, part of the old monastic buildings known as the Abbot’s House was pulled down, to make way for the Duke of Kingston’s Bath; as workmen dug the footing, they cut through a Saxon cemetery and reached a small bath at the eastern end of the Roman bathing complex. This bath, which stood at right angles to the main pool, was recorded by the Irish politician and doctor Charles Lucas, who had used an absence from the country after a controversial election in Dublin to tour the spas of the Continent; his observation of what became known as Lucas’s Bath appeared in his Essay on Waters (1756). The artist William Hoare drew a perspective that is now in the British Museum.
Fig 3 below left: The Roman bath lies below the parapet walls; the bridge on the left was created by Davis to carry hot-water pipes to the City Laundry. The Diocletian window in the domed extension to the Pump Room echoes baths in Rome. Fig 4 above: The Pump Room by Baldwin. Prince Hoare’s statue of Beau Nash stands in the central niche Works of 1790, on Thomas Baldwin’s Pump Room (Fig 4), brought to light a Corinthian capital and about 70 further fragments, beautifully published by Samuel Lysons in Reliquae Britannico Romanae (1813). Previous excavations could not, however, be taken further because of the flow of the spring. ‘The flood of hot water,’ wrote Davis for the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (Transactions, 1883–84), ‘had no drain to carry it off.’ By reopening the Roman outfall drain (Fig 6), Davis enabled the great hall in the centre of the Baths to be uncovered. Measuring 111ft by 68ft 6in, he could describe it as having ‘been completely thrown open’. Parts of the original vault, made of hollow brick boxes, covered with concrete and heavily tiles, were found and preserved. After a careful description of these and other finds, Davis concludes that the ‘Romans
left behind them in Bath a Palace of Health and Luxury unequalled except in Italy’. There then arose the issue of how to incorporate the ruins into the fabric of the city. They had to be celebrated and displayed—in a way that would give 19th-century Harrogate a black eye. The main bath, open to the sky, had once been roofed; it would be roofed again, and an extension to the Georgian Pump Room created for concerts, after the demolition of houses near the Abbey. Davis was required to draw up the specifications for a competition, but he was enraged by the request. Although offered a fee, which he initially refused, he felt it was far below the dignity of a city architect, particularly one who had hoped to design the building himself. As it was, his position debarred him from so much as entering. The competition was launched in April 1893, after which 14 architects paid the required £2 to take part. Country Life, April 3, 2019 53
At the end of the year, the architect Alfred Waterhouse came down from London to judge the anonymous entries, each identified by a letter of the alphabet. He found in favour of K, with O as runner-up. However, as could happen in competitions, the council committee overturned the result: the winner was now O. But who was the architect? The envelope with the winner’s name was opened at a packed public meeting of the full council. As near as Bath ever gets to pandemonium ensued when it was found to be empty. A farcical explanation eventually emerged: Davis had collaborated with a down-at-heel practitioner from the Isle of Wight named Robert Broughton. Skilled as a draughtsman and perspectivist, Broughton needed money for his growing family. The scale and payment of the fee nearly caused the collaborators to fall out, but they succeeded in completing their entry, and met, late at night on the eve of the deadline, in an office borrowed from the stationmaster at Waterloo Station. They could not linger and, as they parted, Davis placed his business card in the fatal envelope. However, the card, as he realised afterwards, fell onto the floor. He saw it there; he assumed he had taken out two.
As near as Bath ever gets to pandemonium ensued when it was found to be empty Davis’s effort was dismissed and K reinstated. K was found to be Brydon, a friend of French artist James Tissot, for whom he built a studio and a château. He later created the New Government Buildings at the junction of Whitehall and Parliament Square. As The Architectural Review described on his death in 1901, he had already designed a southern extension to Baldwin’s town hall as the first phase of the municipal buildings. Georgian purists may regret that the delicate town hall should have been overpowered by these additions, but Bath’s needs had grown since the 18th century. As well as the town hall and sessions court provided by Baldwin, it needed a council chamber, more offices, a police court and a monument room (to the south), as well as an art gallery and library (to the north). Brydon preserved what he could. Although he gave the town hall, now the centrepiece of the composition, a dome, he otherwise subdued his neo-Baroque instincts; the turrets that crown his wings were praised for their discretion by The Architectural Review. The curving elevation of the southern wing, with its sculptural frieze by George Lawson, is particularly successful. 54 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Fig 5 above: The natural spring, from which 240,000 gallons of water, heated to 46˚C, rise every day. Fig 6 below: The overflow of the Roman spring revealed by Davis, the gushing water rich in minerals
There was not, in the end, enough money for Brydon to vault the Roman bath. It remains open (Fig 1). He did, however, create a colonnade, topped on three sides with a suite of statues by Lawson, representing Caesars and generals; the fourth side rises higher, with a wall of Diocletian windows of the type seen in the baths of Rome (Fig 3). Behind this wall lay a concert hall or Roman Promenade, of which one aisle was devoted to a museum. This will be familiar to visitors to the Baths —now more imaginatively displayed and intensively visited than could ever have been envisaged in the 1890s—as the reception hall where the ticket office is located. Poor Davis had been humiliated. Some say he got his revenge by building the Empire Hotel, next to Brydon’s municipal building and described by Pevsner as a ‘monstrosity and an unbelievable piece of pompous architecture’. In the spirit of its architect, the building holds its own through sheer self-confidence. It is this, rather than any Georgian edifice, that forms the first major building seen by visitors to Bath as they walk into town from the railway station. www.countrylife.co.uk
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A tough nut to crack With its pendulous catkins, moreish nuts and reputation as a source of wisdom and inspiration, the humble hazel is a tree with magical powers, says Ian Morton
athering nuts in May on a cold and frosty morning was ever a nonsensical notion to inflict on country children. Wrong month, wrong weather, wrong season—even most townsfolk know that nuts are gathered in the autumn. Wrong bush, too. the falsehood is believed to have arisen as the nursery rhyme, passed verbally down the generations since the medieval period or earlier, misquoted the pagan ritual of gathering knots or bunches of white hawthorn blossom, also known as May blossom, to greet approaching summer and to protect the home and occupants against lightning, evil spells and illness.
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The Druids divided Ireland into three parts ruled by the Sun, the plough and the hazel the husked fruits of Corylus avellana had their own legend. irish and Welsh druids regarded the hazel as a source of wisdom and inspiration, telling of nine magical hazels growing around a sacred pond—the irish claimed a pool on the river Boyne—the nuts from which dropped into the water to be eaten by salmon, also sacred. Spots on the sides of the fish confirmed that they had been blessed with hazel power. a seer called Finnegas, who had been trying for seven years to catch a salmon, eventually succeeded and gave the fish to a young trainee to cook. he burnt his thumb on the hot fish and sucked it, acquiring its wisdom. Known as Fionn mac Curnhaill, son of the hazel, and later as Fin McCool, he became a hero of gaelic mythology. Druids weren’t alone in regarding the hazel as something beyond nature’s gift. Both hermes, the herald and messenger of greek pantheism, and his roman counterpart Mercury carried hazel rods to grant them passage between the spirit and human worlds. the rod became the symbol of
peace, communication and commerce when hermes used his to separate and pacify two fighting snakes. in norse mythology, the hazel was the tree of Knowledge, sacred to thor. the Druids divided ireland into three parts ruled by the plough, the Sun and the hazel, although the hazel, apple and hawthorn formed a magic triumvirate. in medieval lore, nut gathering ceased traditionally with the autumn equinox and the following day was the Devil’s nutting Day, when picking invited bad luck. a girl who gathered nuts on a Sunday risked an encounter with the Devil and a child born out of wedlock. in 19thcentury Devon, new brides were greeted by elderly women casting nuts. nine hazelnuts strung over a door guarded against witches, disease, lumbago and adder bites. Fossilised hazel remnants found in northwest america date from the Ypresian age (56 million to 47.8 million years ago) and, across the northern hemisphere, 14 species of hazel provided human sustenance from the earliest times. natural hybrids occurred —the latest, Contorta, was discovered in a gloucestershire hedgerow in the 1860s,
Gaelic hero Fin McCool (left) gains the wisdom of the hazel-blessed salmon
its decorative, twisted growth earning it the nickname harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. Large quantities of shells found on inhabited sites in Sweden, Denmark and northern germany, reaching back 10,000 years to the Mesolithic period and 7,000 years to neolithic times, indicate that hazelnuts played an important role in early man’s survival as seasonal bounty and as food easily stored to sustain hunter-gatherer groups between kills. Processing pits containing shell remains found on Colonsay island in Scotland, on the isle of Man and at Farnham in Surrey attest to extensive local harvesting at least 9,000 years ago. according to a manuscript dated 2,838bc, the ancient Chinese regarded the hazelnut as one of the five sacred foods bestowed on man by god and of great benefit medicinally for blood pressure, lack of appetite and as a tonic after illness. Some 2,000 years ago, the greek physician and herbalist Dioscorides prescribed crushed hazelnut and honey for chronic coughing, cooked nuts with black pepper to treat a cold and burnt shells mixed with bear grease or suet to cure baldness. traditional herbalism here urged extracts of leaf and bark to treat irritated and infected skin, sunburn, scalds and insect bites, as well as an infusion to relieve a sore throat and diarrhoea. Modern medicine has determined the hazelnut contains seven phytochemicals, confirming again that folk remedies were not all old wives’ tales. On a domestic level, the bendable hazel— like its relative the birch—provided material for baskets, thatching, wattle, fencing, coracles, www.countrylife.co.uk
Once used by ancient Britons, traditionally made coracles can still be seen in Wales
cradles, fish-traps, wands and water-divining and was coppiced to provide an ongoing supply of thin branches for weaving and as a source of charcoal. Until coal was exploited, woodland areas were worked commercially to fuel industry and homes. The High Weald of Sussex and Kent became a key supplier for the fireplaces of London and, towards the end of the 19th century, some 900 men were still employed in charcoal production in Tudeley Woods. Now a nature reserve, it’s subject to continued coppicing and has encouraged tree pipits, woodlarks and nightjars, together with ground management that sustains the growth of fungi, mosses, lichens and orchids.
Such reserves provide ideal conditions for small mammals, especially the common dormouse, which relies heavily on hazelnuts to fatten up for hibernation. Cop hazel also offers an ideal haven for t pearl-bordered fritillary and hazel leaves feed varieties of moth caterpillar, such as the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock. Left in standard form, the hazel grows to about 30ft and fades after 80 years, however, regular coppicing pr longs its life for some centuries. Nowhere pays greater tribute to tradition or preserves ancient habitat and its natural lifeforms better than a hazel coppice—and no budding
Frost fair: Three Fairies Dancing sculpture at the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire www.countrylife.co.uk
branch proclaims spring more vividly than the hazelnut’s flamboyant catkins, appearing before the leaves, pale green turning yellow, and providing early pollen for many insects and especially bumblebees. Depending on winter’s severity, the catkins may appear even before the new year, darling buds well ahead of the game. Taken from the old Dutch katteken, for its resemblance to kittens’ tails, the hazel catkin is the male half of the reproduction process. The tree is monoecious, bearing both male and female elements, but is not self-propagating. The female stigmas, small carmine protrusions peeping from green buds, decline pollen from the same tree, needing wind- or insect-borne pollen from another to germinate. As is often Nature’s wont, the male is decorative, the female demure. Inevitably, catkins were a folklore fertility symbol— English villages had an old saying, ‘plenty of catkins, plenty of prams’. Across this country, nut gathering is largely a local foraging affair, although a growers’ association supports the prized Kentish cob as a local seasonal crop, ‘cob’ Country Life, April 3, 2019 57
A hazel by another name Witch hazel, the emollient used to soothe skin conditions, owes nothing at all to sorcery or to the nut. Witch began life as the Old English wice, meaning pliable, and hazel recorded a similarity between Corylus avellana leaves and those of the North American bush Hamamelidaceae, observed by European settlers. This bush held medicinal properties valued by native Americans, who boiled its stems and used the decoction to treat swellings, inflammation and tumours. Utilised by settlers, it was commercialised medically in the late 19th century. The plant produces glossy black seeds that can be projected up to 30ft when the seed capsule splits and is known as the snapping hazel. Its flowering habit is favoured for brightening winter borders.
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Home, sweet home: replica Iron Age dwelling made from willow, hazel and thatch
deriving from an old children’s game rather like conkers. As the Kentish variety cannot pollinate itself, a number of cultivars—Gunslebert, Merveille de Bollwiller (also known as Hall’s Giant), Butler, Ennis and Cosford—are used. Hazelnuts, from the Anglo-Saxon haesel (a bonnet), may also be called filberts, a usage that emerged centuries ago, possibly because they mature on about August 22, St Phillibert’s Day, or because their husked shells resemble a full beard (their German name is Vollbart). If there is a difference, it would seem that the hazel is a tree nut and the filbert grows on a bush. This country is peripheral in the hazelnut world. Globally, cultivation is huge— 743,000 tonnes in 2016, the latest published figure—with Turkey the biggest producer (75% of the total) followed by Italy, Oregon in the USA, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Most commercial nuts go into snack foods and confectionery, with a quarter ending behind Nutella and Ferrero Rocher labels. At least hazelnuts are good for us. Whether eaten fresh or roasted, they’re antioxidant and rich in protein, Vitamin E, calcium,
copper, phosphorous, magnesium, carbohydrates and monounsaturated fats. The human forager suffers competition. Dormouse incursion can be ascertained by smooth, round holes in the shell side, woodmice leave a ragged edge and woodpeckers and nuthatches lodge the nuts in tree crevices to hammer them open, dropping irregular shards to the ground below. The main culprits are grey squirrels, which can crack a shell neatly in half and strip a tree or bush unless driven away—this begs the silly expression ‘steals nuts and bolts’, but leads to contemplation of other spheres in which the hallowed fruit has been hijacked. Sweet as a nut, hard as a nut, the nutcase next door, a problem or solution
in a nutshell, the sentimental nutkin: vulgar usages, these have become part of the everyday, unthinking acknowledgement of the role played by the gentle hazel in the human condition through time. Probably the most pungently anatomical instance was recorded during the Second World War, when superior numbers of German troops besieged the Belgian town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Three days before Christmas, under a flag of truce, the Germans delivered a letter inviting the American commander Gen Anthony McAuliffe to surrender. His typed reply was a single word: ‘Nuts!’ The beleaguered troops held out and were relieved on Boxing Day.
One for the pot: even today, nothing works better for making lobster baskets www.countrylife.co.uk
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The greatest lottery of them all The first Grand National was 180 years ago. Kate Green charts the history of this much-loved race, decade by decade, and Mark Hedges attempts to pick a winner 1839 Aptly, considering the famously random nature of the contest, the first race with ‘National’ status was won by a horse called Lottery, at 5–1, over a course that included a stone wall, a ploughed field and two hurdles to finish. Lottery was described by Turf correspondent Druid as ‘a very peculiarly made horse’ and his winning time of 14 minutes, 53 seconds is the slowest ever (Mr Frisk’s 8 minutes, 47 seconds in 1990 is the fastest), but he could also jump ‘as if from a springboard’. The winning jockey, Jem Mason, was the inspiration for G. J. Whyte-Melville’s horsedealer character Mr Varnish and another, Capt Martin Becher, was immortalised by the eponymous brook into which he slipped 60 Country Life, April 3, 2019
from his horse Conrad, afterwards declaring that water without whisky tasted foul.
1849 Animal-welfare campaigners were vociferous even then, as there were three equine fatalities, including at an innocuous 18inhigh bank. There was also an unrecalled false start when the overexcited crowd drowned out the starter Lord Sefton’s instructions—the winner, Peter Simple, ridden by Tom Cunningham, was to the forefront of those that broke away—and some dodgy betting. Capt D’Arcy had placed heavy bets on himself to win on The Knight of Gwynne, but, in the race, it dawned on him that this was unlikely, so he tried to bribe Cunningham to take a pull.
1859 Winning jockey Chris Green was a versatile horseman reared on treacherous fenland ditch country in Cambridgeshire, whipping in to his father’s pack of harriers. He farmed, ran a stud and not only rode and trained the National winner Half Caste, but also runners in the Derby and Oaks. An obituary said he was ‘equally at home on the puller as on the slug’.
1869 George Stevens, the most successful jockey in Grand National history, scored win number four on The Colonel. After three false starts, he avoided the mass carnage that ensued by staying at the back. He won for a record fifth time in 1870, on the same horse, but was later killed in a fall, ironically not on the www.countrylife.co.uk
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Left: Better with whisky: the christening of Becher’s Brook in the first Grand National in 1839. Top: Eddie Harty took the crown aboard Highland Wedding, trained by Toby Balding, in 1969. Above: George VI and Queen Elizabeth watch the aptly named Royal Mail win in 1937 racecourse, but when hacking home to his cottage on Cleeve Hill, above Cheltenham.
1879 Popular Irish amateur Garrett Moore on The Liberator, a horse held in great public affection and heavily backed, had an injunction taken out against his running by his fellow owner, Plunkett Taaffe, but it was overthrown by the Master of the Rolls in Dublin and the horse won easily, by 10 lengths.
1889 The victory of Frigate, under Tommy Beasley, received great acclamation as it was her www.countrylife.co.uk
sixth run in the race; she’s one of only 13 mares to have won, the last being the grey Nickel Coin in 1951.
1899 Manifesto won despite a serious blunder; jockey George Williamson described looking back to see a hind leg pointing skywards. Manifesto ran in the race a record eight times, also winning in 1897. He was called ‘the most blood-like animal ever to put in an appearance’; the German equestrian artist Emil Adam was initially sniffy about painting him, but changed his tune when he saw him and exhibited the portrait in Paris.
1909 Georges Parfrement, darling of the Parisian racing scene who later died of a broken neck, is the only Frenchman to have won. His mount, Lutteur III, only a five year old, was trained in West Sussex by Harry Escott and owned by James Hennessy, a scion of the brandy house.
1919 Poethlyn, ridden by Lester Piggott’s grandfather Ernie, was, at 11–4, the shortestpriced winner in history. In 1918, the pair won the ‘War National’, which was held at Gatwick, Aintree having been commandeered Country Life, April 3, 2019 61
2019: what’s the story? Only seven favourites have won since 1950, but tiny, magnificent Tiger Roll, at the head of this year’s betting, could be the first back-to-back winner since Rummy. The nine year old, trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, is a dream horse, a four-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, including a hugely impressive run in the cross-country race last month. Others to appeal include Philip Kirby’s charge Blaklion, which fell at the first last time and deserves more luck; Rathvinden, from the mighty Willie Mullins stable; and Anibale Fly, fourth in 2018 and runner-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup under a superb ride from Barry Geraghty. Ultragold, twice a winner over these fences, could give trainer Colin Tizzard a good day and Vieux Lion Rouge, from David Pipe’s yard, knows his way around after three top 10 finishes.
Becher’s Brook was terrifying in the 1930s. Now, the landing is much more forgiving
by the War Office. Only seven favourites have won in the past 50 years—the shortest priced this century are Hedgehunter (2005) and Comply Or Die (2008) at 7–1.
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1929 After a frustratingly frosty February, when there was only one day’s racing, Country Life expressed consternation at an ‘unwieldy’ entry of 120, which was whittled down to a record 66 (January 12, 1929). The writer mooted the idea of a forfeit to discourage owners of hopeless horses, who were perhaps encouraged by the triumph in 1928 of the 100–1 shot Tipperary Tim— he was the sole finisher after Easter Hero caused a traffic jam at the Canal Turn, which had a ditch in front of it at the time. However, the 1929 winner, Gregalach, will have done nothing to put off owners: he was also 100–1. Our correspondent GHPE missed most of the excitement— he was knocked unconscious when the rail he’d been leaning on broke.
1939 Workman, Irish-bred, owned and trained and ridden by Tim Hyde, whose son Timmy is a successful bloodstock agent, was the first all-Ireland winner, but he hadn’t been tipped: instead, money piled on for Blue Shirt, a horse that had been mysteriously cited in a message in a bottle that washed up on the Irish coast. 62 Country Life, April 3, 2019
At the time of writing, riding plans are fluid, but champion jockey elect Richard Johnson, who has a record 20 losing rides in the great race, partners Rock the Kasbah for Philip Hobbs—there would be no more popular winner.
Red Rum’s stable lad Barry Ellison prays at the 1975 race, when he came second
Russian Hero’s victory at 66–1 proved immensely popular with members of the Communist Party. It’s suggested that, following a tip in the Daily Worker, the payout was the largest ever, collectively, to members of a political party.
Toby Balding was successful again, with Little Polveir, ridden by Jimmy Frost, whose daughter Bryony finished fifth last year on Milansbar. The topic of horse welfare was raised in Parliament after two fatalities at Becher’s Brook, a sorry episode that prompted the modification of fence landings and of jockey and horse qualifications.
1959 When Michael Scudamore won on Oxo, he achieved a feat that eluded his champion jockey son, Peter, in 13 attempts and, so far, his grandson Tom. The Pathé newsreel commentator said Oxo had ‘put beef into his backers’.
1969 Highland Wedding, trained by Toby Balding, who bought the horse after seeing him on TV, was a chance ride for Irish jockey Eddie Harty after regular pilot Owen McNally fractured his elbow. The horse was jointly owned by a Canadian and an American, whose turn it was for the horse to wear his colours.
1979 This decade was dominated by the feats of triple winner Red Rum, but even he wasn’t saluted by bagpipes in the manner of Rubstic, given a hero’s return to trainer John Leadbetter’s yard in Roxburghshire as the first Scottish-trained winner. Nicky Henderson’s charge Zongalero was second —still, remarkably, the veteran champion trainer’s best-ever result in the race.
1999 The 1990s were blighted by the false start and void race in 1993 and the IRA bomb scare in 1997, but the decade ended with a brilliant family first when Ireland’s Paul Carberry rode to victory on Bobbyjo, trained by his father, Tommy, who had won 24 years earlier on L’Escargot.
2009 Venetia Williams is the only woman to have both ridden in the race (she injured her neck in a fall at the sixth in 1988) and trained a winner, Mon Mome, at 100–1, the biggest price since 1967, when Foinavon negotiated the legendary pile-up. The jockey, Liam Treadwell, was making his National debut and, on the blunt advice of BBC presenter Clare Balding, famously spent some of his prize money on getting his teeth fixed. The Aintree Festival is on April 4–6, with the Randox Health Grand National on Saturday at 5.15pm (www.grandnational. org.uk) www.countrylife.co.uk
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Like a fish needs a bicycle Despite not being a lady angler, our correspondent is allowed a glimpse into the world of the River Dee Damsels Photographs by Glyn Satterley
64 Country Life, April 3, 2019
hAd already admired the Picasso, the Louise Bourgeois spider, the antlered ceiling and the wrought-neon chandeliers and was now in the Flying Stag bar, beneath a cast of Georgina Ballantine’s record salmon, waiting for the River dee damsels to arrive. When the Fife Arms hotel in Braemar reopened during the winter, it was hailed as the hottest highland venue for decades. The brainchild of renowned art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth and managed by charismatic Federica Bertolini, formerly of hotel Tresanton, it’s as stylish and splendid a hostelry as I have ever seen in Scotland. The decor is like a collision between Tate Modern and the old Annabel’s nightclub: an eclectic fusion of damask, oak and tartan with taxidermy, Wemyss Ware and a bespoke tweed carpet that’s the same pattern as the night porters’ breeches. Our dinner was similarly outré (bass with ramson and monk’s beard, anyone?) and the occasion was a suitably special one. My friend Ross Macdonald, fisheries development officer for the dee, had invited me to meet a group of local lady anglers who are making sterling efforts to encourage more women to try their hand —in their own good time and with plenty of female support—at the glorious pastime of fly-fishing. At a time when newcomers to our sport appear to be dwindling in number, this is an admirable initiative, especially as fly-fishing has, for some while, suffered from its tweedy, vaguely intimidating image as a pursuit for macho chaps. The River dee damsels was set up some five years ago by the enterprising Shona Mutch and Tara Spiers, who run the Invery & Tilquhillie beat near Banchory. They organise a series of comeand-try days, casting sessions, fly-dressing demonstrations and Ross Macdonald, Pamela Esson, Damsels founders Shona Munt and Tara Spiers, the author, Lorraine Watkins, David Fernie and Pickles www.countrylife.co.uk
social events to attract women from a wide variety of backgrounds (there’s also quite a bit of Prosecco and a secret-recipe vodka slush). This is, indeed, a diverse and delightful group, including Charlotte Gledson (whose husband happens to be the Balmoral factor), scientist dr Lorraine hawkins (river director of the Salmon Fishery Board here, a genuine rara avis), her colleague Pamela Esson (‘she’s more used to electrofishing,’ they joke) and Faye Gauld, who is both a highland piper and an offshore logistics executive.
“It’s the way your troubles melt away as you focus on fishing.” Amen to that Less a formal club and more of a general movement, this particular Sisterhood of the Angle isn’t some militant counterblast against toxic masculinity—they stress the crucial support gratefully received from gillies and partners, but they simply prefer to experience time on the water in their own way. There’s a feeling, perhaps, that men tend to be a little obsessed with kit and catch returns (surely not?) and that there are other aspects to be appreciated about a day out. ‘It’s not only about standing in the middle of the river on your own,’ explains Tara. ‘It’s the way your troubles melt away as you focus on fishing.’ Amen to that. For Faye, it was ‘the feel of the water’ that held surprising appeal during her first foray: ‘It was such a tranquil day.’ Nobody quite says that men can occasionally spoil this, but I am coincidentally reminded of that feminist slogan (popularised by Gloria Steinem): ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ Most fishing guides will tell you that women make such good anglers because they heed advice, concentrate and bring to the Country Life, April 3, 2019 65
Clockwise from left: Shona casts in the Suspension Bridge pool of the Balmoral beat of the Dee; Lorraine puts her waders to the test; Balmoral gillie David talks flies with Shona and Tara; Pamela plays her line
pursuit a dogged determination. I once joined a practice session of the England ladies fly-fishing squad and have seldom witnessed such expertise. It may well be that blokes don’t enjoy being outfished by their womenfolk, but we’re going to have to get used to it. Besides, it’s not exactly a new phenomenon. Piscatorial history can boast many a femina illustris, from Cleopatra to the late Queen Mother. So disproportionate is the number of enormous salmon landed by women that one scientific survey even attributed it to pheromone attraction. When we foregather near the Old Brig O’ Dee the following morning, the Damsels contingent is already nattily attired 66 Country Life, April 3, 2019
It begins to sleet, but the River Dee Damsels show no sign of distress and ready to rock. The tackle industry is gradually responding to the outerwear requirements of this new generation, especially with waders, although most advertisements still feature burly men who have apparently forgotten to shave. ‘Do you guys need a hand?’ enquires Tara as we fumble to tackle up in the cold. David Fernie, the gillie on the Balmoral
estate’s miles of majestic water, marshalls us around the beat and, although it might be early to encounter a springer this far upriver, he remains brimming with optimism. We try the Suspension Bridge, Garlum, McLarens and the Boat Pool— a delicious series of pots and casts that surely must be holding one fish fresh from the sea. Despite the rise in water and lively current, the others wade intrepidly where I fear to tread, elegantly unfurling their Double Speys and Circle-C casts. A cold wind arises and it begins to sleet, but the River Dee Damsels show no signs of being in distress. In the end, we didn’t manage to find a springer and I never did sample that vodka slush. I do,
however, have an invitation to another of their events—perhaps I should take my fish bicycle. David Profumo stayed as a guest of the Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar (01339 720200; www. thefifearms.com). For further information about River Dee Damsels events, contact Tara Spiers or Shona Mutch at email@example.com or visit the Facebook page
David Profumo caught his first fish at the age of five and is still trying to get the hang of it. When he’s not travelling with rod and reel, he lives up a Perthshire glen with Pompey, a spaniel that only speaks dog Latin www.countrylife.co.uk
A house of many colours The Court of Noke in Herefordshire is where Edward Bulmer brings his paints to life, explains Arabella Youens Photographs by Simon Brown
dwArd BuLmer breathes new life into houses with a sympathy that is rooted in a deep understanding of their past. ‘what I’m able to offer is a skill, not only a decorative style,’ edward explains. ‘I can see where details are missing, I can unravel a mishmash of periods—it’s more akin to an architect’s approach.’ It’s a slow game that can last for years and, sometimes, decades—he’s been overseeing the redecoration of white’s in St James’s for the past 10 years, is called into work at Chevening in Kent every five years and has been involved with Goodwood since the early 2000s.
Paint is a background and shouldn’t draw attention; it plays a supporting role Old houses are in his dNA; in the 1960s, his father, esmond Bulmer, bought a Georgian rectory in Herefordshire and restored it with the help of the decorator david mlinaric. It was in observing the process that edward acquired a respect for using good-quality traditional materials, such as wood, paper, silk, leather, wool and cotton in interiors. Later, after graduating with a degree in Art History from the university of east Anglia, he was offered a job working for mlinaric. His first assignment was to assist in the research of Spencer House with Tom Helme, an advisor to the National Trust, who later breathed life into Farrow & Ball. Shortly afterwards, edward worked with the leading picture conservator Alec Cobbe, specialising in architectural design and decorative finishes. It was inevitable, therefore, that, when edward and his wife, emma, decided to make the move out of London, they would buy a house that hadn’t been decoratively compromised. The timing of their house hunting was ideal; the owner of Court of Noke—a house that he’d known since his Welcoming without being obtrusive: the entrance hall at Court of Noke is in Lilac Pink from Edward’s own range of paints www.countrylife.co.uk
Edward Bulmer at Court of Noke, the Georgian house he has restored with his wife, Emma
childhood in Herefordshire—was looking to sell. Other than central heating and electricity, it remained completely untouched by the 20th century. It was three years before they started any work. ‘The seasons bring different perspectives,’ he explains. They then set about reorganising the layout to restore its proportions, including demolishing a 19th-century wing and replacing it with a new one. The house’s location, upstream from his childhood home, offered a strong connection with his past and his family has been making cider in the area since the late 19th century. Not long after the restoration of Court of Noke was complete, edward was asked by Lady march, now duchess of richmond,
to work on a decorating project at Goodwood. ‘Their son, Freddie, suffered from eczema, so she was keen to ensure there were no toxins in the house. Although I was used to working with traditional materials, I hadn’t previously given much thought to the constituents of paint.’ edward turned to the York-based decorative restorer Hesp & Jones for help. The company was using traditionally made, plantbased (and breathable) paints that would suit the walls at Goodwood. ‘Then, when it was up, the surface also had more of a living quality when compared with modern paint —after that, I couldn’t use anything else.’ Together, edward and emma decided to create their own line of paints. They’re Country Life, April 3, 2019 69
Downstairs rooms, including the drawing room (above) and the dining room (right) offered opportunities to try new colours
made in Germany, where there’s been a long interest in natural paint, and Edward has created a range of what he describes as ‘useful colours’; last month, a further 20 were added. They rely on earth and mineral pigments that are sympathetic to natural materials. ‘Paint is a background and shouldn’t draw attention to itself; it plays a supporting role in a room.’ With Edward’s roving eye for colour, it’s not surprising to learn that the walls of Court of Noke have been decorated several times in the past 25 years. Today, they range from a turquoise in the garden hall to Verdigris in the master bedroom. The former owner made the Bulmers promise not to put fitted units into the kitchen; true to her wishes, there are no wraparound counter tops, just cupboards and an island built by cabinetmaker John Beavan and painted in Vert de Mer, also from his own range. The drawing room (which is known as the music room) is panelled in oak from the 100-acre wood and painted in Pomona, a very pale green. A souvenir from a family trip to India are bedcovers bought from
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In the bedrooms, Edward has indulged his passion for classic pattern, including this 19th-century Chinese wallpaper he had restored
Anokhi in Jaipur, which were turned into curtains. David Bamford made the rug. Upstairs, the Bulmers raised the ceilings of a bedroom by taking the floor out above. They hung a 19th-century Chinese wallpaper, which was restored by restoration specialist Allyson McDermott, and the room was built around it, with the wallpaper
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starting from the chair rail—‘I think you see it better that way,’ explains Edward. A bedroom on the other side of the house faces east, so the walls are hung with a treeof-life fabric by Pierre Frey for warmth. Edward’s favourite colour—a greeny-blue called Aquatic—is used in the dining room. Here hang all the ‘old things in gilt frames’. It also
doubles as a photographic studio. ‘The house works as a proving ground,’ says Edward. ‘We put up new colours and see how they look with stone and wooden floorboards—they’re the mainstays of classic English interiors.’ Edward Bulmer (01544 388535; www. edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk; www.edward bulmerinteriordesign.co.uk) www.countrylife.co.uk
Regency house. Family home.
The period English house is one of lifeâ€™s loveliest prizes. But updating one for modern family life without compromising its architectural integrity can be tricky.
Our fitted joinery and kitchens make beautiful homes of lovely houses for you, your family and for generations to come.
Interiors The latest furniture, wallpaper and accessories, chosen by Amelia Thorpe Bedtime story Handcrafted in Yorkshire, the new range of Ultimate Comfort pocket sprung mattresses from the Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Co are made from horsetail, cotton and Peruvian white alpaca for superb comfort and support. Prices from £1,499 for a double mattress (01485 542516; www.wroughtironandbrassbed.co.uk)
Fresh look Ideal for injecting some verdant colour into any room, the Floretta Paisley cushion in Citrine costs £95 from William Yeoward (020– 7349 7828; www. williamyeoward. com)
Sitting pretty The Caxton dining chair combines classic elegance with comfort. It costs £940, plus 3m fabric, from David Seyfried (020–7823 3848; www.davidseyfried.com)
Double act The Calendar three-tiered side table can double as a trolley, thanks to its brass casters. Made of bleached oak with faux bamboo legs, the table costs £1,440, from Julian Chichester (020–7622 2928; www. julianchichester.com)
Paul Tibbs Photography
Floor focus Known for eye-catching stair runners, Roger Oates’s pure-wool flatweave Borders Collection designs can also be seamlessly joined to create striking, large-scale rugs. Each design has a co-ordinating ground to complement the border as fitted wallto-wall carpets. Prices from £129 per linear metre, 60cm and 70cm (24in–27½in) wide (020–7351 2288; www.rogeroates.com)
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Big is beautiful The Beauchamp Bouillotte ceiling light, £1,062, features striking square candle cups made of cast brass. 109.7cm (high) by 65.9cm (wide) by 65.9cm (deep) (43in by 26in by 26in), it costs £1,062, plus shade, from Vaughan (020–7349 4600; www. vaughandesigns.com)
Creating a scene The Walzin Chinoiserie tableau scénique was part of the private collection of the 9th Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and may well have been used in the redecoration of Norfolk House, St James Square, London (1748–52). Recently reproduced by Watts of Westminster as a series of seven panels on non-woven paper, Walzin Chinoiserie Felicia Blue costs £480 per 300cm (high) by 136cm (wide) (118in by 53½in) panel, with custom measurements and lateral repeats available (020– 7376 4486; www.watts1874.co.uk)
Tranquil tone Flax Blue is a calm colour, inspired by linen’s flax flowers, which bloom for only one day a year. It pairs well with colours such as Salt, both from Neptune’s paint collection, £38 per 2.5 litres Matte Emulsion (01793 427427; www.neptune.com)
Personal story Kit Kemp, interior designer and creative director of Firmdale Hotels, is renowned for her joyous and inspirational use of colour, pattern and texture. In her latest book, Design Thread (£30, Hardie Grant), she reveals much about her creative process and the way in which she weaves together singular elements to produce excitingly individual and elegant spaces.
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Are you sitting comfortably? Designed for those who enjoy the comfort of a traditionally upholstered, grand-scale armchair, this piece has a simple, elegant outline that makes it suited to both classic and contemporary settings. The Drawing Room armchair costs £4,560, plus 12m of fabric—here in Cotton Velvet Moss, £75 per m, Rose Uniacke (020–7730 7050; www. roseuniacke.com)
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London’s calling The capital is home to a surprising number of workshops and factories, making everything from paint to lanterns, finds Arabella Youens Photographs by Simon Brown
ondon has a long history of making: clocks in Clerkenwell, silk in Spitalfields, suits in Savile Row and, in particular, furniture. In the 18th century, the capital was famed for the work of the ‘big three’ English furniture makers: Hepplewhite, Sheraton and Chippendale. However, it was in the 19th century that the trade expanded rapidly and output increased nearly four-fold, chiefly to furnish vast swathes of new housing being rapidly constructed around the city. The capital’s furniture trade was dominated by small workshops clustered around the retail ‘hub’ of Tottenham Court Road and then, as it grew, in the East End, which provided easy access to timber arriving in the East India and West India docks. This trade continued until the 1960s, when manufacturing in the city went into steep decline and almost collapsed in the 1980s, bar a few hardy survivors.
Much of the skilled workforce is in the North, so Mylands trains its team in-house one of these was the decorative paint manufacturer Mylands, the country’s oldest family-run paint firm (Country Life, October 17, 2012). Based in Lambeth, it was established in 1884 by John Myland, a furniture polisher who, having dabbled in property development, decided he could make more money selling paint. His richly pigmented emulsions found particular favour with film studios from the 1930s. Until a decade ago, few outside the trade had heard of Mylands. ‘We released our first Colours of London collection aimed at consumers in 2012,’ explains dominic Mylands, great-grandson of the firm’s founder. With www.countrylife.co.uk
Facing page: For lamp designer Rosanna Lonsdale, London means retaining the highest quality control. Above: Dominic Myland and his son, Harvey, of the eponymous paint firm many of the palette names derived from London locations (The Boltons, Lots Road, Hoxton Grey), it’s a growing collection of more than 120 colours that not only have a complexity and subtlety, but also tremendous durability. Recently, the firm experimented with super-fine-ground marble in its paint, which gives a greater depth of colour. ‘At the time my great-grandfather set up the company, there were plenty of other manufacturers,’ explains dominic. ‘Today, with the exception of Farrow & Ball in dorset, the quality end of the market is almost all made in and around Manchester and Hull. our intention is to stay in London.’ This presents challenges as much of the skilled workforce is based in the north, but Mylands resolves this by training its team in-house.
Being close to top designers and decorators —many of whom are based in the capital— was a key reason for Serena Herbert establishing her workshop making iconic invisible light switches in Battersea. Having worked for a long time as an interior decorator herself, Serena became frustrated by the lack of choice on the market by the late 1980s. ‘The options were either the white plastic plates or those horrible brass ones with rope edges. We took the idea from the glass plates that used to predominate, but used Perspex instead—altogether more practical.’ The location for her firm Forbes & Lomax was a matter of convenience. ‘Most of our products are made to order, so it’s important that we’re located centrally to make it easy for electricians and decorators to visit.’ Country Life, April 3, 2019 79
The chance to stay in touch with London-based clients and suppliers keeps Serena Herbert of Forbes & Lomax in the capital
Serena started in the garage of her home in Battersea, then moved into a workshop in a builder’s yard next door. Apart from the invisible switches—which remain a bestseller—her company also produces invisible sockets with smart black inserts, aged brass plates with dolly switches, verdigris sockets and plates and sockets with etchprimed face plates ready to be painted the same colour as the room. 80 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Country houses are our bread and butter, but I feel it’s still important that we’re in London
‘Country houses are our bread and butter, but I feel it’s still important that we’re in London, as this is where the big projects take place. We cover the whole range of interior styles, with modern nickel, silver and bronze and switches that relate to all the different intelligent lighting systems that exist today.’ As London remains key, she has no intention of leaving: ‘It’s convenient for everyone: for staff, for customers and for me.’ www.countrylife.co.uk
Interiors It’s a sentiment that also drives lighting manufacturer Charles Edwards. He’d been an antique dealer for many years, but when he was approached by American designer David Easton to make a replica of an antique light, Charles decided to create a range of lights inspired by the past, made with the same high-quality materials that were used to make the originals. Initially, the basement of his showroom on King’s Road was used as a workshop. Later, when more space was needed, the company took over a former carpet factory in Wimbledon, where there is now a team of 14, specialising in soldering, glazing and all the electrification needed to meet differing technical standards across the world. The collection contains more than 400 pieces. Most orders come via interior decorators and a large proportion of the lighting is commissioned bespoke. Among recent projects, the company produced lanterns for a royal family in Kuwait, which, although classically English, incorporated lines from Arabic poetry and were finished in a custom gilt that is capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions.
Richard Cannon/Country Life Picture Library
We exercise a “lethal” level of quality control –which would be impossible if everything was off-shored ‘That’s the great thing about being based here in London,’ explains Charles. ‘If anyone is concerned about how a piece is progressing, they’re welcome to come and have a look. However, we also exercise what I deem to be a “lethal” level of quality control on everything that bears our name —something that would be impossible if everything was off-shored.’ Newer arrivals are also attracted to the convenience of making in London. Rosanna Lonsdale left a job in advertising to make lamps employing the age-old technique of decalcomania to decorate a hand-blown glass lamp base, then builds up colour and pattern layer by layer, resulting in pieces that have a smooth, luminous finish (‘Lights fantastic’, February 6). Keeping production close to the heart of things is critical to her: ‘We offer a madeto-order service, which means we can keep control and can manage any special requests, including adding a neck to a lamp, wiring it for different countries or treating the metal to meet a client’s needs.’ It also allows for greater flexibility in design—the team 82 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Charles Edwards’s bespoke lights are sent around the world from his Wimbledon factory
has made lamps decorated with different breeds of dogs, inlaid with initials, in a colour to match a particular wallpaper and for special presents. ‘For one couple, who had become engaged in a field of daffodils, we made a daffodil lamp for an anniversary.’ Yes, it’s more expensive, but being able to control the quality of the end product is worth its weight in gold, believes Rosanna: ‘That’s why I keep manufacturing here in London.’
Mylands (020–8670 9161; www.mylands.com) Forbes & Lomax (020–7738 0202; www.forbesandlomax.com) Charles Edwards (020–7736 8490; www.charlesedwards.com) Rosanna Lonsdale (020–3488 4116; www.rosannalonsdale.com) www.countrylife.co.uk
Out & About
Country Life Top 100 party
Edward Bulmer and Emily Todhunter
Alidad and Christopher Vane Percy
Simply the best
D James Lentaigne and Nicola Harding
Bruce Hodgson and Henriette von Stockhausen
Kate Billings and Patrick O’Donnell
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uring London Design Week, leading interior designers, garden designers, builders and interiors specialists gathered at Drummonds’ King’s road showroom to celebrate the publication of Country Life’s new Top 100 list (March 6). guests were welcomed by Drummonds’ creative director James Lentaigne and Country Life’s interiors Editor giles Kime, who explained the reason why the list was launched three years ago: ‘Our aim was to identify professionals with a demonstrable track record in working on large country-house projects, who could help our readers turn their dreams into reality.’ Photography by Marcus Dawes
Emma Burns and Lucy Hammond Giles
Virginia Howard and Penny Morrison www.countrylife.co.uk
The art of the hearth To promote the role of drawing in the creative process, we collaborated with Yiangou Architects to run a competition to design a fireplace. We received a wide range of highly inventive concepts, from which we chose these three. The judges–Lord Snowdon, Ross Sharpe, a director of Yiangou, and John Goodall, Architectural Editor of Country Life–felt they all combined ingenuity with exceptional draughtsmanship
Winner Architect Conor K. Lynch created a pen-and-ink drawing of a chimneypiece that celebrated hunting, with a depiction of a hunting scene in the niche, huntsmen on the legs crossing their whips and horses’ heads in profile on either side. In the pediment is a relief bust of Diana, goddess of the hunt. Judges praised the design for the way in which it artfully integrates key emblems associated with the sport in a way that is coherent and entirely natural. The execution of the penand-ink drawing was also admired, for the delicacy of its detail and the way in which watercolour was employed to bring the design to life. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Runner-up Illustrator George Fox created this multifunctional chimneypiece inspired by William Heath Robinson, which comes to life with the help of augmented reality. www.georgefox.net
Runner-up North Yorkshire-based artist Caroline Riley created this chimneypiece, which was inspired by a wall of ivy and the mice that wander across her hearth in winter. 01287 660456; www.tractorshedcommondale.eu
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A passion for pattern The textile designer Molly Mahon is sharing her enthusiasm for block printing through teaching, says Arabella Youens
hen the staff at Charleston, the Sussex farmhouse that was the rural retreat of the Bloomsbury group, recently arranged a one-day workshop with printmaker Molly Mahon, it sold out within days. It’s the start of what Molly hopes will be a long relationship with the house. ‘It’s a dream come true for me. I’m obsessed with Charleston. every time I go, I have this almost impossibleto-describe feeling of euphoria, bursting with excitement and filled with new ideas.’ It was in the middle of the First World War when, on Virginia Woolf’s recommendation, the painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved into a dilapidated farmhouse in east Sussex. The artists transformed the house, covering the walls, shutters and door panels of the rooms in a riot of colour and established a meeting place for the extended family and friends of this unconventional and creative set for the next 64 years. Although the group made its name for its literary output, it’s the decorative legacy on display throughout Charleston that excites Molly. The house is now in the care of the Charleston Trust, which was established in 1980 in order to inspire interest in the house, Bloomsbury and the Arts.
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Above: Molly Mahon with her Bagru pink cotton, designed in Sussex and printed in Jaipur. Below: Course participants find the ordered work soothing in a frantic world
Molly’s interest in sharing her passion for block printing has developed alongside the recent growth of her own textile, wallpaper and accessories business. having moved from London to east Sussex in 2009 with a young family, she started to block print paper for stationery using her own hand-chiselled lino cuts as a way to keep busy, expanding into fabric and wallpaper. her designs fuse 20th-century influences with ethnic patterns printed in vibrant modern colourways. her first workshop was for a friend’s hen weekend and demand snowballed. It was serendipitous timing: 18th-century farm buildings at Charleston that had lain unused after being damaged by a fire in the 1980s had recently been restored by Julian harrap Architects. Together with a cafe, this work created a space for a variety of events. Participants leave Molly’s workshop with something they’ve designed themselves, be it a set of napkins or a printed panel of fabric that could be made into a blind or cushion covers. For the Charleston courses, Molly has created a special set of lino cuts, inspired by motifs she’s found around the house. There are other opportunities to learn more about the artform: Molly is planning
We all need a creative outlet and people leave the workshops in a heightened state a series of short workshops and talks with the clothing and home-accessories brand Toast and another during London Craft Week, hosted by ceramic designer emma Bridgewater at Myriad Antiques in holland Park. ‘There’s a much greater understanding of craft-led products today. When I began, I often had to explain what block printing was, but that’s no longer the case.’ The reason, she believes, stems from the fact that block printing is an accessible craft that focuses the mind—a beguiling prospect in today’s technologically dominated world. ‘We all need a creative outlet and people who come to the workshops leave in a heightened state. You can’t be distracted by anything when you have to print straight and there’s something joyful about seeing a blank canvas turn into something beautiful.’ 01342 825700; www.mollymahon.com www.countrylife.co.uk
Ask the expert Antique Oriental rugs Below: Avshar rug, Persia, about 1900, 150cm by 125cm (5ft by 4ft)
Roger Rose of James Barclay, the rug cleaning and repair service, offers advice on caring for antique Oriental rugs
In a world of mass production, antique Oriental rugs are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, possibly because they’re such an effective and unique way to make a home more comfortable and interesting. ‘Old rugs, handmade with natural flower and vegetable dyes, have a lovely soft colour and patina that make them very easygoing in rooms—they’re not argumentative,’ says Roger Rose, director of James Barclay, an Oriental rug sales and restoration specialist that traces its roots back to Scotland, where it was founded 100 years ago. There’s also a certain romance associated with their provenance, an exoticism that perhaps attracted the Victorians to begin sourcing rugs from countries such as Persia, the Caucasus and Turkey in the first place, and an individuality accentuated by their handmade qualities. ‘People want something with character, as an antidote to neutral, contemporary pieces,’ says Roger. What is your definition of an Oriental rug? It’s a handmade piece from Persia, the Caucasus, Turkey, India, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. Generally, anything larger than 3m by 2m (10ft by 6½ft) is a carpet—anything smaller than that is a rug. A runner is a long corridor piece, typically 3m by 1m (10ft by 3ft), and a Kelley is a wider runner, more than 1.5m by 4m (5ft by 13ft), often used in an entrance hall. How old is ‘antique’? The ‘golden era’ for rug weaving was about 1870 to 1920, when there was a demand for handmade Oriental rugs for European and American homes. Of course, rugmaking has existed for centuries—the Pazyryk rug is about 2,500 years old and was found, preserved in ice, in 1949 in Kazakhstan—but I’m referring to the heyday when many good workshops made many
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Above: Garabagh rug, Caucasus, about 1890, 137cm by 100cm (4½ft by 3ft)
beautiful carpets. They come to us today from private collections, estates that are being wound up and through relationships we’ve developed over many years. Nor is the ‘golden era’ to suggest that everything stopped after 1920; rug weaving continued, but the advent of brighter, chemical dyes—including orange, which was the first synthetic dye to be used—has meant that the pieces from after this date simply tend not to be as nice. What are they made from? Wool, mostly from sheep, dyed with the madder plant for red, indigo for blue and many other vegetable and flower dyes and mixtures. What are the design characteristics? Some people prefer the geometric patterns that are associated with the Caucasus, but the Persian buyer tends to prefer a finer, more classic look with the medallion motif. Rugs from Turkmenistan tend to be more tribal and the only way to identify the tribe is by the individual flowerhead motif woven into the field of the design. There are many, many different designs and motifs, so there’s usually something to suit every taste. How do you know where a rug was made and how old it is? The front can sometimes be confusing, as there was some swapping of designs. Instead, the information is on the back of the rug:
the weave tells you where the piece was knotted, because of the different methods employed in different areas. The colours give away the age of the rug, because the natural dyes mellow over the years. How should old rugs be looked after? Don’t vacuum the fringes, because this may pull away the rug itself. Apart from that, general vacuuming is fine. If you spill anything, drop a little warm water on the rug immediately to see if you can soak up the stain. If that doesn’t work, bring it to us for professional cleaning by hand. Rotate the rug for even wear, but don’t worry unduly about sun damage, because the natural dyes are resilient to sunlight. Use your rugs, walk on them, enjoy them and bring them to us for a ‘service’ every 5–10 years. Can an antique rug be repaired? We can clean, repair and restore all kinds of handmade old rugs, carpets and tapestries. It tends to be easier to remove stains from old rugs than contemporary ones, because of the materials used and we can repair damage caused by moths, pets, footfall, floods and more. Our job is to retain the lovely old look without over-restoration, while giving the rug a new lease of life. Amelia Thorpe James Barclay (020–3174 2427; www.jamesbarclay.co.uk)
Handmade Home Collection
0344 980 8185
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Feathering the nest The population of swifts nesting in the UK has halved in recent years, but we can all help by providing nesting sites, urges Jamie Wyver of the RSPB
treAming and diving overhead with their exuberant cries, swifts add a joyful, uplifting note to our summer soundtrack. When these extraordinary little birds arrive in early may, they will have just completed an epic, 6,000-mile journey across Africa, the mediterranean and Southern europe. the swift’s is a life lived entirely in the air, only coming into contact with solid matter when it’s time to nest. in fact, on leaving the nest, a young bird may not land for two or three years—they eat, drink, sleep, bathe and even mate on the wing. Swifts are in serious trouble in the UK. Between 1995 and 2015, the population of these birds nesting in the UK declined by more than half. How has this happened? With a bird that migrates through some 25 different countries, there could be several reasons, such as adverse weather patterns or a reduction in numbers of the aerial plankton —insects and tiny spiders—they feed on. What we do know, however, is that, alongside this population crash, we’re also seeing the disappearance of suitable places for the birds to nest. Historically, swifts would have made their homes in the cracks and crevices of ancient trees, cliffs and caves. As human civilisation spread, they adapted to live in gaps under the eaves of buildings. the problem is that modern buildings lack these nooks and crannies and many places where swifts once made their nests have now been filled in. there are solutions, but what the birds need is for these to be brought in on a large scale. there are ways we can all help. if you have a property that has room for swift nestboxes at least 16ft above the ground, you can help welcome these long-distance travellers in spring. Swifts nest in colonies, so by putting up one or more boxes—and perhaps playing a recording of their distinctive call, too—you can make the new homes even more enticing. if you’re having a building constructed or renovated, consider using ‘swift bricks’, which
fit neatly inside the wall cavity. there is also the DiY option: instructions and a ‘how to’ video are available on the rSPB website. Swifts might not find these new residences straight away and it may even take a few years for them to move in. if, meanwhile, other birds, such as house sparrows, take their chance, that’s no bad thing— sparrows need more homes, too. Local authorities and developers can make a real difference. We’re already seeing forward-thinking planners adding swift homes to schools and other public buildings. the rSPB has been working with Barratt Developments, which has placed 182 swift homes on the Kingsbrook development in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and plans to put more on its sites. the Duchy of Cornwall has been adding swift accommodation to its new buildings in the south of england and dedicated volunteers in manchester, Belfast, glasgow and beyond encourage the addition of swift boxes and bricks to their neighbourhoods. if every council and property developer joined in the effort to provide these birds with homes, we could quickly start replacing those missing nesting sites. encouragingly, it seems most people want swifts around. research by Sarah roberts for her masters thesis at the University of gloucestershire highlighted positive public attitudes to built-in wildlife homes. When she asked people if they thought these boxes for birds or bats were a good thing, 61% were positive and 35% were unconcerned about having them built into their own properties. Swifts are, in fact, some of the best tenants you could wish for. they’re only here for about 12 weeks of the year and leave no mess, as parent birds eat much of the chicks’ droppings. they’re also fascinating to watch. this year, let’s get as many new homes up for these incredible aerial athletes as possible. With relatively little effort, we can all play a part in keeping our summer skies alive with swifts for future generations to enjoy. To find out more, visit www.rspb.org.uk/ homes-for-swifts
Ben Andrew/rspb-images.com; blickwinkel/Alamy Stock Photo
Swifts are some of the best tenants you could wish for. They’re only here for 12 weeks and leave no mess
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Cold-smoked for a minimum of eight hours, there’s nothing quite like delectable smoked haddock from Grimsby carefully overseen by Mr Salmon, finds Adrian Dangar
s proprietor of Alfred Enderby, the traditionally smoked fish business he acquired in 2016, the appositely named Patrick salmon’s working day starts at Grimsby fish market long before dawn. ‘I’m after the best fresh haddock money can buy,’ he affirms, jabbing his fingers like a stingray in the gloaming. ‘That means pink gills, bright eyes and firm flesh along the spine. For some merchants, smoking is the last resort for wet fish they don’t sell, but not for Alfred Enderby.’ There are few markets offering greater catches of haddock than Grimsby, yet the availability of a truly wild and sustainable quarry from cold Icelandic waters depends on recent weather at sea. Given favourable conditions, 20 or so 50kg (110lb) boxes or kits of fish will be bought and transported the short distance to the 100-year-old brickbuilt smokehouse at the docks that’s the nerve centre of Mr salmon’s business. It was ever thus, as artisan family businesses in a town that could once claim to be the biggest fishing port in the world have been refining the art of smoking a perfect fresh haddock for generations. They’re helped by the cool, dry winds blowing in off the Humber Estuary that provide ideal conditions for the long cold-smoking process that has earned traditionally smoked Grimsby fish the only Protected Geographical Indication status in Lincolnshire. In order to retain the coveted accolade, which recognises a unique combination of provenance and quality, fish must be cold-smoked for a minimum of eight hours. The end product glows with an opaque, pale sheen, although a few old-timers still prefer their fillets dyed yellow, as was prevalent before the second World War. superb in a fish pie, smoked haddock is also the essential ingredient of kedgeree and cullen skink, the celebrated scottish dish that was a favourite starter for the Queen 94 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Hanging the houses: fresh fillets are suspended high up inside tall smoking chimneys
Mother. Elsewhere in north-east scotland, the smaller fishing villages of Findon and Arbroath have spawned their own unique smoked haddock dishes of Finnan haddie and the Arbroath smokie. Back in Grimsby, Alfred Enderby’s small, expert team sets to the daily task of filleting up to 500 haddocks weighing a couple of pounds each; according to Mr salmon, there are more skilled filleters working in the town than anywhere else on Earth.
For some merchants, smoking is the last resort–but not for Alfred Enderby After fillets have been deftly sliced from each fish, they’re immersed in a brine mix carefully prepared by master smoker Dave Berry, who comes from a family steeped in fishing history and has been with the company for more than 40 years. Mr Berry won’t divulge the exact mix of salt and water in the tanks, but, after 15 minutes, the fish are removed, impaled on metal spikes known as speats and hung on ‘horses’ to drip dry. Together with ‘hanging the houses’, which refers to the laborious task of suspending fillets high up inside six brick chimneys, the terminology is as familiar to those inside the smokehouse as it’s peculiar to the layman outside.
sawdust on the solid floor of chimneys— coated black with the residue of a century’s continuous smoking—is lit at the end of the day and allowed to smoulder gently overnight for at least 12 hours before the strike, when the fillets are removed. ‘Our art is to infuse a delicate flavour of smoke into the fish,’ Mr salmon eulogises, his words rolling off his tongue like smoke licking the sides of his kilns. ‘By leaving it for so long, we get a dry, glossy finish to the flesh and a beautiful depth of flavour that can never be replicated in electronic ovens.’ It seems that those in the know agree with him; clients and devotees include Marco Pierre White, Rick stein, the Caprice group and a growing band of discerning individuals, such as the actress Elizabeth Hurley. As if the verdicts of famous chefs and celebrities were not enough, Alfred Enderby’s smoked haddock and salmon were recent recipients of two and three stars respectively in the coveted Great Taste food awards. Dubbed the food Oscars, the event saw more than 12,600 products appraised in 2018. ‘All the judges have to agree it’s sublime,’ Mr salmon enthuses. ‘If you get one star, it’s brilliant, two’s insane, three stars is exquisite —bonkers, just bonkers. I don’t think haddock has ever got a look in before, never mind two stars.’ He lowers his voice: ‘To be honest, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit disappointed about the haddock,’ he confides, ‘because it’s truly beautiful, I know it’s the best.’ Alfred Enderby, Grimsby, Lincolnshire (01472 342984; www.alfredenderby.co.uk) www.countrylife.co.uk
Currying favour Pulses have long been the base of stews, curries and soups. Julie Harding meets the man who brought lentils back to grow in the UK
ockFood/Brigitte Sporrer; The Cook & Him
RUTTED, bare, baked-earth track lined with hawthorn and soft-pink dog roses leads to a Hertfordshire field that contains Britain’s largest crop of lentils. Overlooked by Arbury Banks Scheduled Monument, the site is sufficiently isolated that it feels like a rural idyll, despite its close proximity to bustling Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin and Stevenage. The fledgling, wispy, vetch-like lentil plants that were sown here only a month before have yet to gather momentum and properly cover the loamy clay soil that looks parched after a raft of endlessly hot days. ‘It won’t be long before they bulk out and look more dense,’ confirms Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedod, a company he co-founded in 2012, with food-systems specialist Nick Saltmarsh and farmer William Hudson, to supply British-grown beans and pulses to the masses. ‘I feel responsible because I’ve encouraged the farmer to grow the lot.’ Eventually, these green plants will develop purple flowers and then 50–60 pods each, less than half an inch long, with three seeds. Beef farmer-turned-pulse convert Tim Gawthroup grew lentils commercially for Hodmedod for the second year in 2018. Other farmers—in Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, Essex and Suffolk—are also involved, but have devoted 10 acres or less to the cultivation of Lens culinaris. A couple dropped out after the first field-scale trials, one struggling with excess weed growth. ‘It was risky and we were learning,’ says Mr Meldrum, standing in the middle of the fledgling lentils, one of four pulse crops Mr Gawthroup grows in this area. ‘We supplied eed to share the risk. Given the
UK-grown lentils are now competing to satisfy our appetite for delicious dhals and curries
tricky nature of the crop, that we managed to harvest anything at first was remarkable.’ Lentils have been grown in Europe for thousands of years and they have a long connection to the UK. ‘There are written records on lentils dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries,’ Mr Meldrum says. ‘They were grown on a small scale for personal consumption.’ Quite what halted lentil-growing in Britain isn’t clear, but it could have been partly due to the peculiar needs of the plant—it relishes rain in late April and early May, shortly after sowing, followed by a hot, dry summer.
Until Hodmedod’s, Britain had witnessed no commercial cultivation of lentils As far as Mr Meldrum knows, until he met Swedish and German lentil growers at a conference in Sweden in 2014 and decided to follow their lead, Britain had witnessed no commercial cultivation of the protein power pack that forms the base for myriad soups, dhals and stews across the globe. ‘I got excited when I talked to those growers, but I wondered where to start,’ he confesses. ‘They said just buy lentils and grow them. I bought three varieties—Puy (green speckled), red and yellow—from a French supplier, because it was relatively close to the UK.’ After two years of small-scale trials at Wakelyns Agroforestry, Suffolk, Mr Meldrum felt confident enough to engage individual farmers. By then, he knew he had a winner.
The first crop of less than a tonne from Wakelyns sold out online within four days. The five-tonne harvest of 2017 also flew off the shelves and Hodmedod products now range from fava beans to the lusciously named marrowfat peas. However, with Canada producing 1.5 million tonnes per annum and India far more, Hodmedod won’t be worrying the big players any time soon. ‘We can potentially compete with highvalue countries, such as Italy, where premium lentils sell for up to £7,’ muses Mr Meldrum. His products cost £3.50 per 500g for organically grown lentils and £3 for non-organic. Last night, Mr Meldrum, who grew up in rural north Suffolk and kept goats and grew vegetables on his family’s smallholding, cooked a few cups of Hodmedod lentils with a bay leaf, to which he added feta and asparagus, and popped them in his car. He delivered his three children to school in Halesworth and then raced down the A14 to today’s rendezvous point in the Hertfordshire village of Ashwell. By lunchtime, he’s sitting in Tim and Sandra Gawthroup’s kitchen, sporting an unironed shirt and slightly dishevelled hair, as if to confirm the frenetic lifestyle that accompanies running Hodmedod. He tucks into his lentils and accompanying fresh tomatoes and salad leaves with gusto. These lentils, which feature on River Cottage Canteen menus, have a distinctly peppery and nutty flavour. ‘When you’ve grown the same varieties in different places, they taste significantly different,’ he notes. Mr Meldrum is right—Hertfordshire is right here in my own forkful. Hodmedod’s, Halesworth, Suffolk (01986 467567; www.hodmedods.co.uk) www.countrylife.co.uk
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Kitchen garden cook Cucumber More ways with cucumber Hummus-and-cucumber bagels (below) Toast seeded bagel halves and spread one half with hummus and the other with beetroot hummus. Arrange slices of cucumber, fresh basil leaves, radish slices and healthy sprouting beans over the top and drizzle with olive oil and apple-cider vinegar.
Chilled cucumber soup Gently fry a small onion in butter until softened. Add two peeled, cored and chopped cucumbers and cook for a few minutes to combine the flavours. Pour in enough vegetable stock to cover and simmer gently for about five minutes. Tip into a blender with a couple of tablespoons of chopped chives, a squeeze of lemon, seasoning and 100ml natural yoghurt. Process and then stir in 30ml double cream. Serve chilled with slices of cucumber on top and scattered with chopped parsley. You can also try it with flaked salmon. Serves 2. Cucumber, fennel and apple salad Peel and core one cucumber and two apples before cutting them into slim pieces. Now, chop one bulb of fennel into roughly the same-sized pieces. Tip everything into a serving bowl and toss with a few dollops of Greek yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon and seasoning. Stir chopped dill through it and serve. 98 Country Life, April 3, 2019
by Melanie Johnson
The delicious, fresh flavours of spring are finally upon us, as can be tasted in this satisfying salad
Asian duck salad with cucumbers and hoisin dressing Serves 4 Ingredients Half an aromatic crispy duck 1 cucumber 1 carrot 5 spring onions 100g mixed salad leaves 20g black sesame seeds, toasted 75g pomegranate seeds 100g unsalted cashews, toasted A bunch of coriander (substitute parsley if coriander isn’t to your taste) For the hoisin dressing 50ml hoisin 75ml mirin 75ml soy sauce 25ml vegetable oil 1tspn sesame oil 50g honey A squeeze of lime 1tspn chilli flakes 1tspn grated ginger 1tspn cornflour mixed into a splash of cold water
Method Preheat your oven to 220˚C/425˚F/gas mark 7. Remove all the packaging and place the duck on a baking sheet, then roast it for 40 minutes, when it should be cooked through and crispy. Remove from the oven and use two forks, pulling in opposite directions, to shred the meat. Place it in a large bowl. While the duck is cooking, prepare the dressing. Pour the hoisin, mirin and soy into a small pan and heat through. Add the vegetable oil, sesame oil, honey, lime, chilli flakes and grated ginger and bring to a gentle simmer. As the liquid warms, mix the cornflour with the water before pouring it into the saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and pour into a jug. Refrigerate until ready to use. Top and tail the cucumber and then cut it in half widthways. Use a vegetable peeler to create wide thin strips of cucumber and add them to the duck. Peel the carrot into long curls and add these to the duck and cucumber. Slice the spring onions diagonally, using both the white and green parts, and add them to the salad, together with the salad leaves, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and cashews. Pour the dressing over the salad, a little at a time to get the right amount, and then toss it very well to combine the flavours. Serve immediately with fresh coriander (or parsley) scattered over the top.
A house for all seasons This magnificent Dorset manor has spectacular Tudor interiors, 19th-century formal gardens and a fascinating history
Dorset is a county of idyllic Tudor manors, among which Athelhampton House is one of the most beautiful. Set in 29 acres of late19th-century landscaped gardens bounded by the River Piddle, the Grade I-listed stone house has been sensitively restored. £7.5m
his week’s Country Life sees the launch onto the market—at a guide price of £7.5 million through the country departments of Knight Frank (020– 7861 1065) and savills (020–7016 3820) —of one of Dorset’s most exquisite Tudor manors: Grade i-listed Athelhampton house near Puddletown, six miles from the county town of Dorchester and 11 miles from the coast at Ringstead Bay. 100 Country Life, April 3, 2019
seeing Athelhampton house in all its early-spring glory, it’s hard to imagine that the historic stone house has risen more than once from the ashes of disaster, thanks to the efforts of an inspired and dedicated few. They include the Martyn family, who built the house in the late 15th and mid 16th centuries; the antiquarian Alfred Cart de Lafontaine, who restored it and created its magnificent formal gardens in the late 1800s;
and its present owners, the Cooke family, who, during a 62-year tenure, have built on and enhanced the legacy left by the best of Athelhampton’s many previous owners. According to a series of scholarly articles by Clive Aslet, then Architectural Editor of Country Life (May 10, 17 and 24, 1984), Athelhampton came to the Martyns when successive generations, Robert and his son, sir Richard Martyn, married Athelhampton www.countrylife.co.uk
Above: The Great Chamber, with its splendid plaster ceiling, formed part of Alfred Cart de Lafontaine’s additions in about 1905. Below: Athelhampton’s Tudor magnificence is at its peak in the vaulted Great Hall, with its linenfold panelling and minstrels’ gallery heiresses. Sir Richard’s grandson, William, was a canny operator who married twice, each time into a rich West Country family, and prospered in business under three monarchs —Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII— before being elected Mayor of London in 1492 and knighted two years later. ‘Shrewd as ever, Martyn waited a decade before deciding that England after Bosworth was safe to build in. The licence to crenellate Adlampston, as his manor house was called, was given on November 5, 1495… Built of whitish limestone with Ham Hill stone dressings [it] preserved a perfect medieval arrangement of porch, hall, oriel and service wing, which can still be seen,’ notes Mr Aslet. The oldest part of Athelhampton House and still an impressive focal point is the magnificent Great Hall, built in about 1485, with its timbered roof, linenfold panelling, minstrels’ gallery and heraldic glass windows. The west wing and a gatehouse were added by Sir William’s descendants in about 1550, although the gatehouse was demolished in the early 1860s in the course of a restoration by a subsequent owner, the self-important
102 Country Life, April 3, 2019
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Property market George Wood—an intervention that caused outrage in conservation circles at the time. A series of earlier Country Life articles (June 2, 9 and 23, 1906) recalls the ending of the Martyn male line with the death of Nicholas Martyn in 1595/96; the inscription tombstone in the Athelhampton chapel of St Mary Magdalene at Puddletown salutes him with grim humour with the words: ‘Nicholas the First and Martyn the Last,/ Good night, Nicholas!’ Nicholas’s three sons had died young, so the Athelhampton estate passed to his four married daughters, none of whom wanted to live there. Eventually, it was sold to Sir Robert Long of Draycot Cerne and passed through the Long family to the Duke of Wellington’s spendthrift nephew, William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley. According to Country Life, ‘this worthless person succeeded in 1845 as 4th Earl of Mornington and died in 1857, having wasted his estates’. By 1848, he had already sold Athelhampton to his former tenant, George Wood.
The historic house has risen more than once from the ashes of disaster, thanks to a dedicated few The Longs never lived at Athelhampton and the 18th century had seen it let to tenant farmers, so ‘from being a house of knights and squires, the old hall had sunk to the slovenly estate of a farmhouse… like an old charger in the shafts of a haywain’. Despite Wood’s restoration, Athelhampton was again in a poor state by 1891, when it was bought by Cart de Lafontaine, who set out to restore the house to its former glory, using much of the material recovered from the former gatehouse, chapel and other buildings demolished by Wood. The great Tudor gatehouse still existed when Athelhampton was first visited by Thomas Hardy, who lived at nearby Bockhampton and immortalised the romantic old manor house, thinly disguised as Athelhall, in the short story The Waiting Supper and the poems The Dame of Athelhall and The Children and Sir Nameless. Cart de Lafontaine commissioned Inigo Thomas to design one of England’s finest gardens as a series of ‘outdoor rooms’ inspired by the Renaissance. The sinking of the entire ground level about the hall, due to poor drainage, was Cart de Lafontaine’s first major project. There followed lawns, 104 Country Life, April 3, 2019
A bridge across the tranquil River Piddle leads to the thatched, three-bedroom River Cottage. Further accommodation is to be found in the refurbished coach house
terraces and walled gardens, with 40,000 tonnes of Ham Hill stone going to create the picturesque walls and terraces now standing ‘where were cowsheds, and ruinous stables and linhays’. Having lost his heir and his fortune during the First World War, Cart de Lafontaine sold his beloved Althelhampton in 1916. It was bought by George Cochrane, who built the north wing in 1920–21, before selling in 1930 to the Hon Mrs Esmond Harmsworth, who entertained lavishly there. The house was sold again in 1933 and reappeared in the advertisement pages of Country Life in 1946, when it was described as a ‘XVth century Mansion of rare architectural charm, and of great historical association, in a remarkable state of preservation, carefully restored and brought thoroughly up-to-date with all modern comforts’. In 1957, Athelhampton House was bought by the eminent surgeon Robert Victor Cooke, who restored the manor as a home for his retirement and to house his extensive collection of 16th- and 17th-century furniture, paintings, tapestries and carvings. Following his wife’s death in 1964, he gave the house to his son Robert Cooke MP (later Sir Robert) on his marriage to his wife, Jenifer King, in 1966. After the death of Sir Robert in 1987 and Jenifer in 1995, Patrick Cooke inherited the house. He continued its restoration and extended the gardens, all listed Grade I, with his wife, Andrea. Having worked tirelessly to build a thriving family enterprise at Athelhampton, which is open to the public all year round, Mr Cooke is looking forward to embarking
on the next phase of his life, in which the knowledge and experience gained over 30 years or more at the helm of this remarkable Dorset manor will, no doubt, serve him well. The glories of Athelhampton House and its 29 acres of exquisite formal and informal gardens bounded by the River Piddle, are too numerous to list here. Worthy of special mention, however, are the Great Hall, one of the finest examples of 15th-century domestic architecture in England; the oriel window, which depicts the marriage alliances of the Martyns; and the Great Chamber, with its elaborate plaster ceiling based on a pattern from the Reindeer Inn at Banbury, which was added by Cart de Lafontaine in about 1905. Also of note are the King’s Room, the original 15th-century solar, so called because the manorial courts held in the name of the king took place here; the dining room or Green Parlour, decorated by Cart de Lafontaine and restored in the 20th century; the State Bedroom, with its 15th-century fireplace; and the main staircase, rebuilt by the Cooke family using Jacobean oak from the demolished priory at Bradford-on-Avon. The private family rooms are housed in the east wing, the second floor of which has been converted to a conference facility with a large auditorium-cum-cinema. The pretty thatched coach house, refurbished throughout in 1997, forms the heart of the commercial operation at Athelhampton, with further accommodation available in the three-bedroom River Cottage, another charming thatched house, accessed over a bridge across the River Piddle. www.countrylife.co.uk
AUGUSTUS BRANDT PETWORTH
Y I U
Edited by Annunciata Elwes
travelibUK/Alamy Stock Photo
Small is beautiful: leaving London doesn’t have to mean forsaking all the pleasures of urban living if you choose a more compact city
Miniature marvels Forsaking the countryside for life in the capital might seem like too much of a sea change, but what about a miniature version? Arabella Youens explores the distinctive qualities of some of our finest smaller cities RITERIA for the perfect downsize four will be swiftly assuaged (C L Best for… walking often include something that’s easy bridge contributor Andrew Robson has Winchester to lock up and leave, room to host an outpost of his popular school there).
the grandchildren, an easily managed garden and the ability to walk to a shop. The challenge, report many agents, is finding such a thing in the countryside. An alternative is to embrace the change of lifestyle afforded by moving into a city. Although the capital’s urban jungle doesn’t suit everyone, agents are reporting a rise of interest from those making a leap from a country house into smaller, often cathedral cities, which offer the best of both worlds —buzz and convenience with the easily accessible escape to countryside beyond.
Best for… playing bridge Oxford Type ‘bridge clubs Oxford’ into Google and any doubts about being able to join a regular
106 Country Life, April 3, 2019
‘Of course, bridge doesn’t top the wish list of every downsizing client that we advise, but we have had occasions when we’ve been instructed to find a property near a competitive club,’ says Adam Buxton of Middleton Advisors (01235 436276). Apart from the cultural opportunities afforded by living within one of the world’s great seats of academia, Oxford also offers what William Kirkland of Knight Frank (01865 264865) describes as ‘a gentle transition to city life for those arriving from the countryside’. The market ‘Oxford’s high property prices are well known throughout the country,’ says Giles Lawton of Strutt & Parker (01865 366645). A budget of £600,000 will buy a twobedroom flat or small house in north Oxford; anything larger will cost substantially more.
A city in miniature, Winchester’s main charm is that it’s tiny and well laid out. ‘You can walk into the centre from wherever you choose to live,’ says George Clarendon of Knight Frank (01962 677234). ‘The main areas are all pedestrianised and there’s plenty on offer in terms of coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques.’ Beyond the cathedral lie the water meadows, where walkers can stroll beside the River Itchen and out into the surrounding fields. The 100-mile South Downs Way starts here and leads all the way to Eastbourne. The market Perennially popular with downsizers, an added level of competition comes in the form of couples in their fifties who move to the city to put their children through sixth-form college. A budget of £1 million would buy a three- to four-bedroom house. www.countrylife.co.uk
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Property comment been converted into houses and apartments —including high on Lansdown to the north, close to the racecourse, and Holburne Park, near the eponymous museum—the market for downsizers is significantly better than it used to be, reports Mr Brady. A centrally located flat will cost upwards of £600,000.
Best for… dining out York
From racing to the theatre, hi-tech York will satisfy the most exacting of downsizers
Best for… classical music Cambridge
Alan Copson/Getty Images
From lunchtime concerts to chamber music, festivals, opera recitals and choral Evensong, there’s music to enjoy almost every day of the week in Cambridge. An annual highlight is the summer music festival, which attracts world-class participants. ‘Twenty years ago, Cambridge was fairly sleepy. However, these days, university lecturers have been joined by savvy employees of large tech and bio-tech corporations, who have brought higher demands for the city centre. The result is that Cambridge has become an increasingly cosmopolitan place to live,’ says Richard Freshwater of Cheffins (01223 214214). Petite in size and pancake flat, it’s also ideal for even the most genteel of cyclists—otherwise, there’s a very reliable bus service. The market A budget of between £800,000 and £1 million will buy a three- or fourstorey house with off-street parking within the city.
Best for… glorious vistas Bath
This spa town is extremely green. Royal Victoria Park was the first park given by the Crown to the public and, thanks to the hilly topography, many properties enjoy wide views across the city—a panorama that won’t change as the whole of Bath (like Venice) is a World Heritage City. 108 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Bath is where people ‘choose rather than need to live,’ believes Luke Brady of Savills (01225 474501). ‘It’s safe, pretty and convenient—easy to walk across and everything is on a manageable scale.’ It has something for everyone in terms of theatres, restaurants, bars and sport. The market Following the sale of three former Ministry of Defence sites that have
Although the high streets in many of our smaller cities serve up the predictable chains, York enjoys a thriving independent restaurant scene, with particular favourites including The Star Inn the City and Skosh, near 12th-century Micklegate. York was named the best place to live in the UK by The Times in 2018 for its combination of heritage and hi-tech (it’s the UK’s first ‘Gigabit City’—and has ambitions to be one of the best-connected hubs in Europe). Admittedly, the online angle might not be critically important for everyone, but the racecourse, two universities, the Theatre Royal and last year’s launch of York Mediale—a biennale celebration of media arts—mean there’s always plenty going on. The market ‘A great deal of the downsizers we see come from the surrounding countryside, as well as those returning to York from a career in London when they retire,’ explains Ben Pridden of Savills (01904 617821). Offering better value than its southern cousins, a four-bedroom house in the city will start from £500,000.
Snap them up Cambridge college views A three-bedroom house overlooking Trinity New Field. £950,000, Cheffins (01223 214214) Oxford lock-up-and-leave A three-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a new-build in north Oxford. It has parking and access to communal gardens. £995,000, Knight Frank (01865 986139) Hassle-free Bath (right) This three-bedroom new-build terraced house comes with parking for two, a concierge, a tennis court and communal gardens. £1.15 million, Savills (07807 999369) Georgian gem in York (left) A Grade II-listed town house within walking distance of the train station and the city centre, with four bedrooms and a west-facing garden. £720,000, Savills (01904 617820) Winchester city centre A stylish two-bedroom flat, which has a communal garden, overlooks Royal Winchester Golf Course. £875,000, Knight Frank (01962 657497) www.countrylife.co.uk
The great collector Thenford House, Northamptonshire The Garden and Arboretum of Lord and Lady Heseltine Part II
Charles Quest-Ritson turns his attention to the garden’s magnificent water features and its important collections of rare plants
Ater is the making of the garden,’ says Lord Heseltine. Half-a-dozen springs rise just north of thenford. two of which coalesce and run from an agricultural reservoir to the village pond. From here, a stream emerges and runs through three medieval fish ponds on the southwestern edge of the Heseltines’ estate and into a three-acre lake—which has two islands —at the southern end of the park. On the Heseltines’ arrival, the fish ponds and the 18th-century lake were so silted up that their outlines were difficult to discern. Nevertheless, the new owners cleared them, installed some handsome bridges and then paused. A few years later, they decided to build a new lake further downstream, called the Banana Lake because of its shape. ‘Water in the garden offers you your own nature reserve,’ Michael concludes, ‘a personal therapy, every note in harmony with its background, a mirror for the colour, shape and drama of the things you’ve planted.’ On the other side of the park, to the east of the house, a tributary of the Cherwell (and, ultimately, of the thames) called the Marston Brook trickles through the shelter belts and runs due south along a deep gully—a ditch that is almost dry during a hot summer, but copes well with flash floods and winter melts. the Heseltines have dammed it to create a series of five spacious ponds and water gardens that lead down towards the larger Willow Pond at the bottom. the damper parts support plantings of gunneras, lysichiton, The rill was designed by George Carter, inspired by a sketch by Lord Heseltine. It consists of nine 30ft rectangular pools
Country Life, April 3, 2019 111
The pair of cormorants on the lawn overlooking the lake were sculpted by Guy Taplin
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candelabra primulas, arisaemas, ferns, podophyllum, Japanese irises and much else, too, as well as the purple toothwort Lathraea clandestina, a present from Roy Lancaster, which parasitises the roots of the willows. All the ponds—some of which might be called small lakes—reflect the trees and shrubs that fill this part of the garden, including the rare Quercus robur Salicifolia. Around the Willow Pond is a collection of elders and willows, some 100 of which came from a collection at Brno in the Czech Republic. Michael sums up the Heseltines’ experience of water: ‘Water is not easily tamed— it has a mind and purpose of its own… these schemes emerged over the years as ideas and opportunities presented themselves… there were mistakes, but no regrets.’ The land at Thenford slopes gently from north to south. Perhaps the garden’s most admired feature is George Carter’s Rill at the www.countrylife.co.uk
top end of the Marston Brook. This consists of a long sequence of gently descending rectangular pools, running in a straight line from an Italianate seat at the top to a broad waterfall at the bottom. It is a fiendishly complicated piece of engineering, but there’s just enough of a gradient for it to seem natural. Each of the nine pools is about 30ft long and 10ft wide and connected to the next by a 15ft channel. All are edged with stone and each is enlivened by four fountains. The design, breathtaking in its formal beauty, is framed by neatly trimmed cones of clipped yew. Outside those yews is a fine collection of trees, including Acer campestre subsp. leiocarpum and Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica. The park is surrounded and protected by woodlands that were somewhat neglected when the Heseltines arrived. Nevertheless, the ring of old trees—mainly of beech, sycamore, oak and lime—provided just enough www.countrylife.co.uk
shelter within which to establish Michael’s Arboretum. The soil at Thenford is fertile clay, with a pH of about 7.2, but there are pockets where the pH is slightly more acid at 6.8. Generally speaking, plants such as rhododendrons are conspicuous by their absence, but, occasionally, one encounters healthy camellias, pieris and, indeed, some rhododendrons that are not so soil-sensitive. The Heseltines’ first advisor on plants was Harold Hillier, who later received a knighthood at Michael’s behest. He was followed by Mr Lancaster and Keith Rushforth, both of whom still play a major part in choosing and acquiring rare plants for the ever-expanding arboretum. Regular readers of Country Life will know Michael is a voracious collector of plants— and immensely knowledgeable. Over the years, he has written a number of articles for us about the plants at Thenford, but they do no more
Shades of Monet: the striking Blue Bridge was designed by Robert Adam, a local landscape architect, and built in 1994
than hint at the extent and the glory of his garden. He receives plants and seeds from licensed collectors and arboreta all over the world. Top nurserymen, including Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones at Crûg Farm, and amateurs such as Maurice Foster are among the garden’s benefactors, as are gardens in China and the USA, the RHS at Wisley and botanic gardens such as Kew, Edinburgh and St Andrews. Michael likes the fact that ‘collecting plants is not a competitive I’vegot-more-than-you process’, adding that he and Anne are constantly overwhelmed by the generosity of their horticultural friends. Hemerocallis—daylilies—arrive from time to time from the Carew Poles’ National Collection in Cornwall and Robert Mattock Country Life, April 3, 2019 113
Left: Acorns sown in Rootrainers. Right: Rhaphiolepis umbellata, a flowering shrub from Japan, sent by Henry and Tessa Keswick
Left: Quercus rubra Aurea, one of nearly 400 Quercus species in the Heseltines’ astonishing Arboretum. Right: Quercus semecarpifolia recently gave Thenford a collection of rose species and cultivars he had acquired over many years. Several of the 700 different snowdrops came from the National Collection built up by retired diplomat David MacLennan and his wife, Margaret, in Carlisle. It makes sense for enthusiasts to give spare plants to a well-run garden such as Thenford, where they will be appreciated, studied and conserved. For the dendrological visitor, the trees and shrubs are the greatest attraction of Thenford. The Heseltines say they grow 3,500 different trees and shrubs in their Arboretum, many of which are oaks, a particular passion of Michael’s. Quercus is a fascinating genus, because there are so many species and they grow in every part of the Northern Hemisphere—Mexico alone has more than 100 endemics—and nearly 400 different species and cultivars grow at Thenford. The Heseltines also admit to more than 300 magnolias, 350 cotoneasters and all known species and cultivars of Aesculus, the result of their friend Robert Grimsey’s enthusiasm for the genus. Whitebeams are particularly well represented: among lesserknown species are Sorbus mougeotii, S. karpatii and S. thibetica from a Rushforth 114 Country Life, April 3, 2019
collection, as well as a Tibetan species that was first described in 2009 and given the name Sorbus heseltinei. It is trees and shrubs such as these that turn Thenford into a garden of botanical and horticultural importance. The scale of the underplanting is everywhere impressive: sweeps of snowdrops, blue Anemone blanda and our native daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus line the Lake Walk in late winter and early spring.
Water in the garden offers you your own nature reserve, a personal therapy The final flourish, before the grass is cut, is a froth of cow parsley interplanted with naturalised martagon lilies. And the treeplanting continues: ‘It’s merely a question of how much time we’ve got,’ says Michael. His passion for plants is, by no means, confined to mighty trees. At the other end of the perspective is a small enclosure known as the trough garden. Here, a collection of more
than 40 stone troughs is arranged around an old cider press in one of the few remaining open spaces in the arboretum. The troughs are planted with grit and soil mixes, each with a different pH level, to house the widest selection of plants, some of which are given a degree of shade from trees (selected cultivars of Cornus kousa and Acer palmatum). Nineteen different gentians were planted in the more acidic troughs, together with miniature rhododendrons and Cornus canadensis (which has proved rather invasive). A range of bulbs and corms has flourished, including rare species of cyclamen, fritillaries and tulips, but most exciting of all are the handsome cypripediums—lady’s slipper orchids from China and North America— which have settled in and clumped up happily. ‘The temptation to buy more troughs is sometimes irresistible,’ Michael adds. As for the garden as a whole, the Heseltines expect that their son, Rupert, will eventually sustain and develop it further. ‘One hundred years from now, our trees will still be here,’ says Michael. ‘We hope others will enjoy them as much as we do now.’ For open days at Thenford, Northamptonshire, visit www.thenfordarboretum.com www.countrylife.co.uk
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In the garden
GAP Photos/Tim Gainey; flowerphotos/Alamy Stock Photo
veryone has a tricky space in the garden, perhaps where the previous owners used to burn everything, under a tree or in a damp area. This is where you should plant a few Moroccan mints. A few years ago, I did exactly that—half-a-dozen one-litre pots planted 3ft apart—and, every July, I wait for a sunny day to lie in the patch, all senses full of the scent of an english summer, insects flitting in the sun. It’s one of my happiest moments in the garden every year. I chose Moroccan mint because, if you grow only one variety, this is the one you should choose. The scent and flavour are as clean and crisp as an April morning; it’s the mint for mint sauce, mint tea and mojitos. It wakes early in spring and stays lively and aromatic into autumn—even the desiccated stems of winter are pretty attractive. Happily, Moroccan mint moves sideways steadily rather than aggressively, making it easy to keep under control with mowing. If you’re looking for something to cover the ground a little more invasively, apple mint may be for you. Planted to the same spacing as the Moroccan mint, it filled the gap in about half the time, creating a beautiful, beefriendly understorey beneath a couple of trees. In contrast to Moroccan mint’s deep green, apple mint’s leaves are silvery, with a light felting and a gentle flavour that’s true to its name. It makes a particularly good jelly.
Plant Moroccan mint and laze hot days away in scented seclusion
Both mints are deserving of a place for their looks and their ecological value, as much as their flavour and scent. For wildlife to get the best from them, allow them to flower: bees and other beneficial insects will come flying in. even as they go over and the cold takes hold, their stems bring structure and interest, frosting and catching the light in winter. Moroccan and apple mint are both spearmints, which—thanks to the chemical carvone (also in dill and caraway seeds)—tends to make them sweeter and milder than peppermints. If you want
Horticultural aide memoire Coppice dogwoods Shrubs that pleased us in winter by the colour of their stems should now be pruned, including Cornus alba and its many forms. Cut all the stems down to ground level as soon as the buds begin to burst. Some people are halfhearted, perhaps fearing some cataclysm, and snip feebly away, the worst of all options. It would be better to do nothing: the shrub would rise to its full height, but look dull in winter. For bright stems, there’s only one way. SCD 116 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Chocolate mint is my favourite, with a powerful, fresh coolness reminiscent of After Eights peppermint’s intensity, choose carefully, as the accompanying menthol can make some too strong for the kitchen. Chocolate mint is perhaps my favourite, with a powerful, fresh coolness that is, as you’d hope, reminiscent of After eights. I know no better way of encouraging hard peaches into deliciousness than poaching them in a little sugared cider with a generous handful of chocolate mint. Mint is one even for the incurably incompetent. Plant it in a moist soil, ideally with its leaves in sun and roots in shade, and it will thrive, but plant it with the roots facing down and you’ll
find it hard to kill. Actually, it’ll probably even survive you planting it the wrong way up. I left a couple of pots of mint out over winter, then the rabbits got at them and I accidentally drove over them in the tractor with the mower going full blast. I threw the tatters on the compost and, a month later, they’d sprung back into flourishing leaf. Mints will appreciate any kindness, however: shearing off the tops encourages them to branch sideways rather than grow leggy. Watering through dry spells, especially if growing them in containers, keeps mints lush and productive and if they’re in a pot, feed them regularly. Growing mint in a container curtails its colonising instincts —simply make sure you up its pot size once in a while. you may find your potted mint becomes bare in the centre, with strong growth concentrating around the edge. When this happens, ease the plant out of the pot, cut through the centre (a bread knife is best) and bend each half back, replacing it in the pot with the cut edges now against the rim. A handful of compost will be useful to fill in any gaps; water well. I’d suggest starting with onelitre plants: a few planted now will keep you supplied for years to come. Should you have a mind to, propagation is easy. Divide existing plants or cut off a piece of strong root and place it in a 3½in pot, watering often. you can also take a 5in stem, remove the leaves from the lower half and place it in a glass of water where it will form roots—pot it on when the roots are half an inch long. And lastly, for those fond of an after-gardening tipple, it’s my duty to inform you that the largeleaved Kentucky Colonel is the spearmint for mint juleps. Mark Diacono grows edibles, both usual and unusual, at Otter Farm in Devon (www.otterfarm.co.uk) Next week Border controls www.countrylife.co.uk
The A–Z of Havana Happy birthday to the San Cristóbal marque and the Cuban capital itself
HE end of the 20th century marked the peak of the last cigar boom. I remember being in Havana in 1999 and I exaggerate only mildly when I say that the cigar shops gave a good impression of having been ravaged by a plague of particularly energetic, cigar-smoking locusts. You needed to move swiftly and seek out unfashionable sizes— I was disproportionately excited to come across an entire box of Hoyo du Gourmets. The tides of time and trends have since washed back and forth: the great, late-20th-century cigar boom receded, but, in the past few years, we’ve witnessed a new one, driven by younger cigar experts and graduates of the excellent Master of Havanas, who bring a new level of enthusiasm and knowledge with them. I am biased, because Bolivar Jr is among their number. Having passed his exams, he’s working at Davidoff under the tutelage of the Sahakian family.
Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty; Hunters & Frankau
In the past few years, we’ve witnessed a new cigar boom As well as new energy coming into the field, we’re also seeing the maturity of brands of cigar that were launched at about the time that Bolivar Jr made his first visit to Davidoff, at the age of six weeks. The late 1990s saw a frenzied burst of productivity in the blending rooms and rolling halls of Havana as, after a period of relative calm, new brands were launched with staccato rapidity. In 1996, we saw the arrival of Cuaba, the retro, 19th-centurystyle perfecto: a double-ended torpedo with a bulge towards the foot. A year later came the Vegas Robaina, named after Alejandro Robaina, a legendary tobacco 118 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Above: Cigar doyen Alejandro Robaina, after whom the Vegas Robaina of 1997 was named. Below: San Cristóbal 20 Aniversario farmer whose creased features gave him the air of W. H. Auden dressed as the man from Delmonte. In 1998, the little-known Trinidad, hitherto available only as a diplomatic gift, arrived on the market and, finally, at the end of 1999, came the San Cristóbal de la Habana—an overlooked gem of a brand. Given the original name of the Cuban capital, San Cristóbal de la Habana began with four original sizes, each named for one of the forts of Havana. Principe is a small fort and a small cigar. The factory name for this size is minuto, but I know it as the Partagás Short (the clue is in the name), a sort of sawn-off
corona. The Principe is delightful and so versatile that there are times when I consider it to be a contender for the title of perfect all-round cigar. It’s light enough to be enjoyed in the morning or pre-prandially, but sufficiently substantial to cope with being ignited after lunch. La Punta is a Belicoso, 5½in long with a ring gauge of 52. A 50-ring gauge, La Fuerza is a cracking cigar named after a fort near the Plaza de Armas. Of the original line-up, only El Morro, an interesting vitola best described as a Churchill with aspirations to be a double corona, failed to stay the course and was discontinued. Happily, a few 2001 boxes are still available from Davidoff. Since then, there have been some corkers, all named after Havana’s streets and landmarks. The intercontinentally ballisticsized mega-Figurado Muralla had a five-year run to 2011. I regret not having bought more. Although it was rather hefty, with a 56-ring gauge, I have a soft spot for the San Cristóbal O’Reilly, a vitola sold to celebrate 10 years of San
Cristóbal. O’Reilly was the street in the old city centre where the offices of Cubatabaco, the predecessor of Habanos SA, used to be. My favourite San Cristóbal arrived in 2012, in 2,000 slightly deranged jars—imagine a large rook from an outdoor chessboard with a crenellated lid that’s also an ashtray. The brilliant Torreón (named after another of the city’s castles) is smooth, perfumed, salty-sweet and utterly delicious. The last time I enjoyed one, I found myself wondering if the blender had been trying to replicate the flavours of a panettone, with a bittersweet tang of orange peel and candied fruit. Happily, the 20th anniversary of San Cristóbal coincided with the 500th anniversary of the city itself, which provided the opportunity for an orgy of landmarks and street names reinterpreted as cigars, in a humidor that looked like a section of old city walls bristling with cannons. Stuffed with 500 cigars, including reissues of El Morro, Muralla, Torreón and O’Reilly, it also contained two anniversary cigars that will be issued later this year: one for the 20th birthday of the marque and a beast of a 57-ring gauge cigar that celebrates half a millennium of Havana. Of the two, the cigar for the 20th anniversary strikes me as the more approachable, a double Robusto of almost 6½in with a 52-ring gauge. If it’s anything like its siblings, it will be a welcome addition to an increasingly varied line-up—the only disappointment is its unimaginative name, 20 Aniversario. I can only imagine that the department in charge of naming cigars misplaced its copy of the A–Z of Havana.
Scan this code using the QR Reader app on your smartphone to watch our Country Life video ‘How to smoke a cigar’ www.countrylife.co.uk
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In the driving seat
Handsome is as handsome does Timelessly handsome, the new Audi A6 is as classy as its predecessors and will still look good in 10 years’ time
UDIS do age well, something that none of the other big makers, including BMW and Mercedes, have nailed quite so consistently over the years. Of course, many old Mercs and some Beemers look fantastic, almost without rival in the case of a 1955 SL. Rarely is an Audi as extraordinary as that. However, rarely are they ugly, either. You could pick almost any model, but something like a 1991 S2 still looks good today. Not drop-dead gorgeous, just timelessly handsome. Like Sean Connery. The original all-road is exactly the same—still classy some 20 years on. I’ve often wondered how Audi designers manage this, when other marques build cars that contrive to be both too futuristic when launched and absurdly out of date five minutes later. Of course, that’s because nothing dates like someone’s vision of the future, but Audi seems to have found an aesthetic groove that consistently transcends the trap of ephemeral futurism. Thus, it was with huge dismay that I found at the back of the otherwise very handsome new
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A6 Avant delivered to my driveway in Norfolk two fake, plastic exhaust vents with tiny little peashooters hidden far inside. Dear Audi designers, what the hell were you thinking? These faux warpdrive venturis make the back of your lovely new car look as if it’s been tricked out by some spotty body-kit assistant at Halfords.
The car is fantastic, even if it’s been forged by evolution, not revolution Happily, the rest of the car is fantastic, even if—or probably because—it’s been forged by evolution rather than revolution. There wasn’t a lot wrong with the last handsome, comfortable and refined A6 load lugger. Except perhaps its D-grade performance in the ‘can you get golf-clubs sideways across the boot?’ test, my old man’s ultimate motoring examination. Audi drivers clearly don’t mind trading a wee bit
of boot space for style, because this is the one unchanged aspect of the entire machine: 565 litres replaces 565 litres. Up front, it’s two or three litres and, although I’ve read very good things about the 40 TDI’s two-litre four-pot (word is this engine is smooth, quiet and pokey), Audi sent me the Top Gun version, which is wafted along by a threelitre V6 and 286 very energetic horses and many tectonic torques. You will not want for performance, I promise you that. Further top-class wizardry includes such exciting toys as ‘dynamic’ all-wheel steering and adaptive air-suspension: four grand’s worth of extras, which undoubtedly sharpen up the handling and provide a useful degree of self-levelling if gold bullion is your regular cargo. Otherwise, the business-lunch option on the suspension à la carte—conventional springs, adaptive dampers —is a perfectly good set-up. Audis are always great on the inside: the new A6 is usefully more spacious than the last one in the passenger compartment and otherwise equally as comfortable, equally as refined and
On the road Audi A6 Priced from £71,810 as driven Combined fuel consumption 48.7mpg Power 286bhp 0–60mph 5.7 seconds Top speed 155mph pleasing a place to while away long motoring hours. Provided you keep your eyes on the road. Sadly, the A6 has gone touchscreen-tastic, so that’s a job made harder by fashion. Losing the dial-and-button control is a mistake, at least in my antediluvian opinion, in part because that system was the best on the road. Save money on the all-wheel steering and spend it on the technology pack, which will recognise voice commands and allow you to watch where you’re going. If you do that, the new A6 will provide a smooth, stress-free drive, with planted, predictable handling. Overall, a large number of incremental improvements add up to another excellent, goodat-everything family car that will still look smart in 10 years’ time. Except for those exhausts. www.countrylife.co.uk
Full of good things Three heads are better than one at the TEFAF fair at Maastricht and the internet provides food for thought
Fig 1: Ancient Greek belt of woven gold thread and garnets with a Herakles knot, sold by Colnaghi for about €2.5 million
LTHOUGH a few changes to this year’s TEFAF fair at Maastricht have been controversial, such as the ejection of long-standing exhibitors in favour of prominent international contemporary galleries, others were immediately beneficial. Some exhibitors lost traditional spots, or were given smaller stands, but this allowed for more comfortable aisles and a better arrangement of refreshment areas. Spreading the private view over two days made it easier to view stands as well as to browse and sluice and I expect will have allowed more buyers to make up their minds on the spot. Two criticisms that should be rectified were the lighting columns in the aisles, which had a deadening effect on pictures hung nearby, and the busy black, white and grey carpet, which was widely disliked and actually disturbing to anyone with astigmatism, inner ear or other balance problems. In any event, I was not alone in thinking that this was one of the best fairs for quality
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for some time. A day and a half was by no means enough to see it all and, inevitably, on the return train, colleagues mentioned interesting things I had missed. Here are a few others that featured on my fantasy shopping list. It would have been easy to miss a great treasure on the Colnaghi stand, because it was not a painting, as might be expected from the London Old Master gallery, and was invisible from the aisle.
Fig 2 right: Marble bust of the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, sold by Carlo OrsiTrinity Fine Art
Fig 3 below: Marble head of an angel, sold by Brimo de Laroussilhe. Fig 4 right: Ivory relief of a gentleman, sold by Alessandro di Castro
This was a 29inlong belt—or perhaps headband, academics differ—made of woven gold thread so fine that contemporary jewellers say that they could not produce such work (Fig 1). In fact, it was created by 3rd- or 4thcentury BC Greeks and I am told that they would probably have lost their sight by the age of 18. Although it lacks some of the green-enamel decorations, it has retained its garnets and is in remarkable condition. It centres on a Herakles (or reef) knot, but actually opens at the back, where one loop remains, and gold side plaques hold the shape. The price was in the region of €2.5 million (£2.1 million). Then there were three heads, two small enough to be pocketed, the other certainly not. Smallest was a delicate 3¼in-high marble head of an angel (Fig 3), which www.countrylife.co.uk
was sold by Brimo de Laroussilhe of Paris. It was created in about 1290 and came from the Ile-de-France, where it probably watched over a recumbent effigy on a tomb. No gold headband here, only a thin ribbon to control the curls. The largest of the three was a marble bust of MargueriteLouise d’Orléans, Grand Duchess of Tuscany (Fig 2), by Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652–1725), sold by Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art. Marguerite-Louise, a cousin of Louis XIV, was a wild princess who eventually freed herself from her miserable marriage to Cosimo III and got back to France despite the diplomatic ructions. The bust was sold to a European private buyer for a seven-figure sum. The third head, a relief bust, was a 6in-high ivory carving of a gentleman (Fig 4) by David le Marchand, with Alessandra di Castro of Rome. It intrigued me, as le Marchand was a strong Huguenot, but the sitter is holding a very Catholic flaming heart. My brief research seems to rule it out as a crest. Although the internet makes research much easier than in the past, it also offers more temptations than even that enchanted wood, the Science & Miscellaneous floors in the London Library, to wander down chains of information that end far from one’s purpose. I am very easily distracted by the histories of traditional niche manufacturers, such as Austin & Seeley, mentioned here a couple of weeks ago (March 20), particularly if they have survived to our own day. The country-house contents sale held by Moore Allen & Innocent of Cirencester in early March set me off again. During much of the 19th century, the manufacture of billiard tables and equipment was largely dominated by three interconnected London businesses, the oldest of which, Thurston’s, does still survive. It was founded in 1799 by John Thurston, who had learnt his skills at Gillow’s. www.countrylife.co.uk
In turn, William Burroughes learnt his trade at Thurston’s before forming Burroughes & Watts in 1836 with Frank Watts, who was an early photographer. Among their employees was Edward Yeman, who joined Henry Cox to form Cox & Yeman in 1851. Their business was taken over by Burroughes & Watts in 1911. Thurston’s was based near the Strand, until forced out by redevelopment in 1900. Then, until the Blitz, it had a magnificent factory and billiard hall in Leicester Square and now it is part of a larger group in Edgware. Burroughes & Watts had its headquarters and a billiard match room in Soho Square, but the business was taken over by E. J. Riley of Accrington in 1969 and that group failed in 2002. Burroughes & Watts showed an oak ‘Elizabethan style’ table
Fig 5 top: Burroughes & Watts full-sized billiard table. £1,178. Fig 6 above: Oak scoreboard made by Cox & Yeman. £447
at the 1851 Great Exhibition, which was presumably rather more flamboyant than the ‘Georgian’ full-sized table (Fig 5) featured in the Cirencester sale, making £1,178, with accessories including an overhead light, two scoreboards and 19 cues. An oak Cox & Yeman scoreboard (Fig 6) was sold separately, for £447. Next week Who needs art?
Pick of the week The implement used to smash Leon Trotsky’s skull in 1940 is often described as an ice pick, which has made me wonder whether it was a mountaineer’s or a cocktail-maker’s accessory, but the former seemed unlikely in Mexico City and the latter in the refugee revolutionary’s study. The police report called it ‘a small pickaxe, of the type used by Boy Scouts’, which may or may not make things clear. As the assassin had hidden it in his trousers, it was perhaps a little smaller than the 12in by 11in mountaineer’s pick sold by Cheffins of Cambridge for £27,940 in early March. That one had a less violent, but very valuable, provenance: it had been used by Frank Debenham on Capt Scott’s doomed Terra Nova Antarctic Expedition of 1910–13. Debenham was the first director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and he gave the pick to a neighbour in Cambridge. The provenance caused it to sell 100 times over estimate to a UK-based collector of Arctic and Antarctic memorabilia. Country Life, April 3, 2019 123
Boilly at the National Gallery and the Wallace Collection
The French trickster
Laura Freeman relishes the wit and engaging detail of Parisian genre scenes hitherto little known in this country
ouis-LéopoLd BoiLLy (1761–1845) was a master tease. His paintings wink, flirt and flash their ankles. He is remembered, perhaps unfairly, as Boilly of the Boudoir, a painter of ribbons, garters and the loosest of dressing gowns. Now, an enlightening exhibition at the National Gallery seeks to tell a different story. Here we meet Boilly, flâneur avant la lettre. seventy years before Charles Baudelaire called on artists to leave the studio and find the subjects of ‘modern life’ on the new boulevards, Boilly was out with his chalks.
The Ramsbury Manor Foundation/courtesy of the Trustees; The Wallace Collection
He liked you to look, to spot his hidden games, to expect the unexpected Like the hem-clutching family in Boilly’s watercolour To Pass, You Pay (about 1803–04), the artist would have made his way across duckboards laid on muddy, horse-fouled streets. He, too, might have dodged the ruffians who thrust out menacing hands and shouted: ‘Donnez moi!’ A coin to keep the ladies’ pretty slippers clean. in the era of grand history painting, of Jacques-Louis david’s Oaths and Coronations, Boilly was a genre artist. He looked back to the dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, to Gerard ter Borch’s whispering couples, Gerrit dou’s stage-set illusions and Jan steen’s taverns. Wherever there was a carnival, a puppet show or a betting game at the back of an inn, Boilly was there. Nothing escaped his quick, responsive eye. The dog panting for a saucer of beer. The man
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Grateful Hearts purports to extol the virtue of charity, but elements suggest a degree of innuendo
lighting his pipe from another’s embers. A boy with his jacket out at the elbows. The son of a master woodcarver working near Lille, by 1789, Boilly was an established artist in paris. The revolution and the ensuing Terror turned his interest by necessity from
swooning coquettes to the city at large. in 1794, he was denounced to the société populaire et Républicaine des Arts as a peddler of ‘revolting obscenity’, whose paintings ‘dirty the walls of the Republic’. Boilly mounted a defence. it was others, not he, who had To Pass, You Pay is full of ambiguities: is the blackhatted man a charlatan or does he deserve to be paid for establishing a crossing?
given his paintings and prints names such as The Jealous Lover, Indiscretions and Oh What a Fool He Is! one of the most seductive of these ‘obscene’ paintings is Comparing Little Feet (about 1791) from the Ramsbury Manor Foundation. ‘Mine are quite the tiniest!’ says the woman in her morning gown. ‘No, mine!’ says her friend slipping off her stockings to prove it. of course, we look only briefly at their feet— tiny indeed—before our gaze is distractingly pulled towards ankles, calves, thighs and more. delightful or deplorable, depending on who’s looking. Boilly liked you to look, to spot his hidden games, to expect the unexpected. He is said to have invented the phrase trompe l’oeil—tricking the eye. since www.countrylife.co.uk
includes one of Boilly’s beforeand-after pairings: The Visit Returned (1789) and The Sorrows of Love (1790). The costumes are a haberdasher’s dream. Sashes and mantles and waist-cinching belts invite us to reach out and touch the canvas. Sometimes, the artist himself appears. In The Meeting of Artists in Isabey’s Studio (1798), he peers at us. Unmistakably Louis-Léopold. Once you know his unbrushed fringe, his long, ridged nose, his pursed, uncertain lips, you start spotting him in crowds. A wonderful sheet of five chalk studies for a selfportrait (about 1810) shows Boilly examining his own head with owlish patience. Portraiture was his pain et buerre. He painted as many as 5,000 likenesses in his lifetime. Quick phiz stuff. No under drawing. All done in two hours. His sitters weren’t leisured aristocrats, but Mr and Mrs
Cloth-Merchant, eager to be back at their order books. Even when painting the throng, Boilly could never resist a bonnet, a feather, a bare shoulder. The Poor Cat (1932) is a melee of beggars, soldiers, urchins and gawpers. A Punch and Judy show is under way. The crowd watch to see if Mr Punch can persuade his kitten to jump through a hoop, but our eye is drawn irresistibly to the lady in lilac, to her tiny waist, her ticklish ostrich feather and her pale, smooth, strokeable neck. ‘Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life’ is at the National Gallery, London WC2, until May 19 (020–7747 2885; www.national gallery.org.uk). ‘Spotlight on Boilly’ is at the Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1, until May 19 (020–7563 9500; www.wallacecollection.org) Next week Harald Sohlberg
Above: The Dead Mouse (in the Wallace Collection). Right: A carnival scene (detail) Boilly’s last—and carefully planned— crowd painting is full of comic characters. A street of theatres thus becomes a stage itself antiquity, artists had practised to deceive. A frescoed fly that appears to settle on the canvas. A painted parapet that might be marble. A goldfinch so lifelike you’d swear you heard it sing. The climax of the National Gallery’s exhibition is Crucifix (1812), which dares you to believe that oil on canvas is really ivory, parchment and wood. Boilly’s in-my-lady’s-chamber paintings play a different sort of trick. He treats his viewervoyeurs to scenes of tantalising striptease. In Two Young Women Kissing (1790–94), we catch two girls in an uncertain clinch. The dress of the taller girl slides off one arm. Their lips are locked, but their eyes are open. The mood is one of shy experiment more than ecstatic abandon. At the Wallace Collection, a small companion display www.countrylife.co.uk
Country Life, April 3, 2019 125
When life was fun
Fiction Lanny Max Porter (Faber, £12.99)
This absorbing study questions how much women’s lives changed in the 1960s, says Emma Hughes Social history How Was It For You? Virginia Nicholson (Viking, £20)
In an era of free love, it seemed as if women had it all, at last, but did they really?
hIngS—having them and wanting them’ was how Peter York defined the spirit of the 1960s. When those of us who weren’t there think about them, we imagine an explosive sense of possibility —a feeling, as Philip Larkin put it in Annus Mirabilis, that ‘every life’ had become ‘a brilliant breaking of the bank, a quite unlosable game’. With the pill available on the nhS, London swinging and plenty of jobs to go around, inhibitions and impediments to success had gone the way of the dodo. hadn’t they? As Virginia nicholson’s absorbing and moving account of the decade shows, for half of the population, it was more complicated than that. there have been enough books written about the 1960s to fill the shelves of Biba 10 times over, but very few of them make a serious effort to understand what life was like for British women. Like David Kynaston, whose trilogy of postwar social histories this echoes in its attention to the fabric of everyday lives, the author draws on accounts from ‘ordinary’, but noteworthy people right across the social spectrum to write her study: there’s Viv ‘Spend Spend Spend’ nicholson, the miner’s daughter who became a pilloried celebrity overnight when she won the Pools, and Oxford graduate Anne Chisholm, who worked for Private Eye, but couldn’t help feeling sidelined by the young men she thought were her friends. 126 Country Life, April 3, 2019
mrs nicholson goes further than mr Kynaston, weaving in original interviews with very different women, from a debutante to the leader of a girl guide group. this kaleidoscopic approach could feel head-spinning, but it never does, due to her novelist’s eye for detail. ‘A feeling that we could do whatever we liked swept through us,’ one of mrs nicholson’s interviewees remembers. It’s striking how many of the women featured end up a long way from where they started, having got there totally under their own steam.
Many of the voices remember feeling that you couldn’t win With no help from her provincial, mean-spirited parents, Rosalyn Palmer left Surrey to take up a place at the University of Liverpool and found herself watching musical history being made in the Cavern Club. then there was marilyn—later mandy —Rice-Davies, who chucked her high heels into a suitcase and left Birmingham for London at 16 after deciding she could do better than working in the marshall & Snelgrove department store.
But, of course, discrimination was everywhere. Some of this was legally enshrined (until as late as 1980, women could be refused credit without a male guarantor), but, more often than not, it manifested in snide comments, closed doors and a sense that women were judged to different standards —particularly when it came to sex; contra Larkin, many of the voices here remember feeling that you really couldn’t win. then there was the smothering paternalism that pervaded every national institution. As a pregnant newlywed, 18-year-old margaret hogg was prescribed a cough suppressant containing thalidomide by her gP. When her son was born, the doctors first lied to her about the extent of his disabilities, then suggested that she leave him behind (she refused and became a fierce champion of the rights of thalidomide survivors). How Was It For You? ends in 1970, on the eve of the first national Women’s Liberation Conference. the grainy image of the audience is from another time, but it’s sobering to think that so many of the issues the women in it were campaigning for (equal pay, free contraception and childcare) still feel out of reach. In many ways, things—having them and wanting them—aren’t as different now as we might think.
ImAgIne the ideal english village. girded by fields and ancient woodland, but within reach of civilisation, it boasts a church, a pub and an ‘outstanding’ primary school. It has cottages, a ‘big house’ and a sprinkling of ‘characters’. It has history. A place where newcomers rub shoulders with locals, it is, literally, a breath of fresh air. But what if this idyll also breathes gossip and reeks of frustration? What if it’s defined as much by the evergreen, disembodied voice of Dead Papa toothwort, its voyeuristic presiding spirit, as by its sordid graffiti? Under ancient Peggy’s eagle eye, what if its views are both bucolic and toxic? Lanny’s parents have moved to just such a community in search of the dream. Lanny is a creative and radiantly endearing little boy. his father commutes to London, sacrificing precious morning minutes with his ‘march hare’ of a son in order to avoid train time with a colleague. he works in finance, lives for the weekend and suspects he’s ‘a bit pitiful’. Lanny’s mother is a writer, contracted to finish a vicious ‘murder thriller’. guiltdriven and lonely, she arranges after-school lessons for her son with neighbouring artist Peter Blythe, once celebrated, now aged, still alternative. he’s known as mad Pete. Friendship blossoms. then, disaster strikes. this is a wildly inventive, moving and pin-drop magical drama. Words clamber over the page like ivy. Ideas reach for the light. hopes take deep root in the mulch of ages past. Dead Papa toothworth eavesdrops on ‘all the lyric-practical nonense of their days’, concluding that only Lanny is ‘in tune with the permanent, can feel a community’s tensile frame’. half a century on from Ronald Blythe’s Akenfield, this ‘english symphony’ echoes our ‘molecular memory’ with wit and vast empathy. It’s unreal, but true. Caroline Jackson www.countrylife.co.uk
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Books Science The Gendered Brain Gina Rippon (The Bodley Head, £20)
Fiction The Snakes Sadie Jones (Chatto & Windus, £14.99)
‘Women… represent the most inferior forms of human evolution… and are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man,’ wrote the French psychologist and polymath Gustave Le Bon in 1895. He was echoing the canard that took root during the 18th century, the ‘neurosexist’ essence of which has persisted, if less virulently expressed, to the present day. With the subtitle of her new book—The new neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain—Gina rippon, a researcher in cognitive neuroscientist, throws down the gauntlet on received opinion that the female brain is ‘hard-wired’ to be biologically different (never mind deficient). that little girls have an intrinsic preference for Barbie and boys for Lego, that women can’t read maps and are ‘natural’ carers, are among the myths she sets out to debunk. needless to say, she has little time for ‘psychobabble’ or ‘neurotrash’ of the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus variety. From brain-measurement frenzy to phrenology, procrustean attempts were made to fit evidence to the a priori theory of female inferiority (even Darwin was complicit, expressing concern that empowering women would derail mankind’s evolutionary journey). And that’s before we enter the ‘raging hormone’ debate, whereupon, in an example of the humour that informs this book, prof rippon reminds us that ‘oestrogen’ comes from the Greek for ‘mad desire’. neuropsychology evolved in the mid 19th century, with analysis of the effects of brain injury. With cortical map-making, the terminology changed. Women were no longer ‘inferior’, but ‘different’, in a variant of the evolutionary hunter-gatherer dichotomy—espoused, incidentally, by Jean-Jacques rousseau, who ascribed a ‘domestic’ role to the ‘weaker’ sex.
tHIs Is tHe FIrst of sadie Jones’s five novels to have a contemporary setting. Her damning depiction of London despoiled by developers into ‘rows and rows of film-set frontages’ is inescapably current, even if her sharp portrait of the unhappy Adamson family is timeless in its emotional complexity. our protagonist Bea earns a ‘pittance’ in her vocation as a psychotherapist; she’s married to mixed-race Dan, who despises working as an estate agent, his dream of being an artist gathering dust, like his portfolio under the bed, ‘its dusty fingers reaching out to him as he slept’. Deciding to take a break and travel through europe, they stop at Bea’s brother Alex’s hotel in Beaune, near the French-swiss border. When they arrive, Alex is drinking heavily in spite of a recent spell in rehab and the hotel is rundown and empty, save for a guestbook filled with invented entries and an attic filled with snakes. then, Alex and Bea’s absurdly rich parents—the real snakes— arrive: Liv, ‘polished to a point’, and Griff, a property developer who made his fortune exploiting the Windrush generation, from which Dan is descended. ‘I wonder if it hurts them to shed their skins,’ Bea wonders of the snakes. she has done her utmost to escape her own skin: refusing to touch her father’s money, devoting her life to helping others, even tattooing it with a flame—for Dante’s Beatrice. When tragedy strikes and violence propels the novel into the guise of a thriller, we see that, for all her noble efforts, Bea ‘wasn’t strong enough to fight wealth. It was bigger and more beautiful, and it was fierce’. The Snakes is a compelling morality tale that shows how even the best of us risk being seduced by the serpent of wealth, in spite of its potent venom. Emily Rhodes
128 Country Life, April 3, 2019
Nature or nurture? This book challenges all past assumptions
Developments in brain-imaging technologies at the beginning of this century, which permitted the real-time study of healthy brains, should have put paid to such ‘bunkum’. prof rippon enumerates experiments, made possible by mrI, to disprove the ‘essentialist’ theory that our brains are ‘fixed’, let alone determined by gender.
Developments in brain-imaging technology should have put paid to such “bunkum” she goes beyond the naturenurture debate to prove the effects of environment and life experience on the ongoing plasticity of our brains. From jugglers to taxi drivers, imaging has shown how acquired skills alter the brain. superior visuospatial skills are the preserve of males due to their prenatal exposure to testosterone? nonsense! tests on girls exposed to the video game tetris for an average 1½ hours a week evidenced similar enlargement in the cortical areas associated with visuospatial processing. more insidiously, our brains are affected not only by real events—jobs, education, games
—but by the attitudes and expectations of those around us. this is where our ‘social brain’ comes into play, its alarm system monitored by the anterior cingulated cortex, which is particularly vigilant in females. As social beings who crave belonging and dread rejection, the bombardment from birth with stereotyping and gender-dependent expectations results in the kind of self-limiting behavior that would explain why so many women are under-achievers—as well as being under-represented in the sciences. ‘You don’t need much reminding that you are an underperforming female to become an under-performing female,’ prof rippon tells us. ‘stereotypes are brain changers… and provide an extraordinarily powerful steer in determining the endpoint in both our behaviour and our brains.’ that we cannot only focus on binary biological characteristics and continue to ignore psychological, social and cultural factors is the message of this compelling and controversial tome. perhaps it will redress what psychologist Cordelia Fine terms the ‘decades of misinterpreted, misunderstood, or misrepresented research’ that have perpetuated the myth of the female brain well beyond its sell-by date. Teresa Levonian-Cole
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When the boot’s on the other foot A gender-flipped The Taming of the Shrew doesn’t entirely work, but you can always rely on David Hare to intrigue and entertain
HERE are few better guides to the spirit of the age than productions of Shakespeare. I’ve lived through romantic, political and minimalist approaches and, at a time when all institutions are striving for sexual equality, it comes as no surprise to find the plays are being re-gendered. The latest example is the RSC’s The Taming of the Shrew, in which a boisterous female, Petruchia, woos, wins and 130 Country Life, April 3, 2019
overcomes a defiant bloke. Oddly enough, he’s called Katherine, but then this version offers us a matriarchal society in which women rule the roost to the extent of giving their sons the names of girls. Does it actually work? Up to a point, Lord Copper. Even with a problematic play such as this, there’s a life-enhancing quality about Shakespearean comedy that can never be crushed. Justin Audibert’s production, played
unfashionably in Renaissance costume, looks handsome. The sub-plot, which, here, involves a number of women competing for Katherine’s vain younger brother, Bianco, also emerges with great clarity. The best performance comes from Sophie Stanton, who turns the ageing Gremia into a lascivious suitor who seems to glide across the floor on invisible castors— rather like Mark Rylance when he played Olivia in Twelfth Night.
Gender-flipping doesn’t, however, solve all the difficulties. The Taming of the Shrew still remains a play in which ‘awful rule and right supremacy’ are seen as the recipe for a lasting marriage: a dubious proposition at any time. Some lines make little sense: Claire Price is a forthright, swaggering Petruchia, but when she asks ‘Have I not heard great ordnance in the field/And heaven’s artillery thunder in the skies?’, www.countrylife.co.uk
Ikin Yum Photography; Catherine Ashmore
Facing page: Claire Price and Joseph Arkley switch roles in The Taming of the Shrew I couldn’t help questioning her military credentials. In an attempt to defuse the story’s brutality, Joseph Arkley plays Katherine as a strangely submissive figure. Like it or not, there’s a combative, rough-house quality to their first encounter, which, here, goes for little. There are things to enjoy. Emily Johnstone plays Lucentia as a none-too-bright upper-class gel totally dependent on Laura Elsworthy as her nimble sidekick, Amy Trigg lends her servant, Biondella, a nice sense of mischief and Ruth Chan’s music, described as ‘rock Renaissance’, is lively, but these are all pleasures on the margins. Recalling past RSC pairings —Peter O’Toole and Peggy Ashcroft, Alun Armstrong and Sinéad Cusack, Jasper Britton and Alexandra Gilbreath—I can’t help feeling that Shakespeare’s central conflict works best when cast on traditional lines. Aiming to provide more mirth in the Midlands, Birmingham Rep recently gave the British
premiere of a popular French hit, Edmond de Bergerac by Alexis Michalik, which is now at the Grand Opera House, York, before going on to Northampton, Cambridge and Richmond. It’s worth catching for the exuberance of Roxana Silbert’s production and for some spirited performances, but it remains a somewhat strenuous romp that, running for 2¾ hours, could do with judicious cutting.
The central conflict works best when cast traditionally It’s about the playwright Edmond Rostand and the central joke is that his most famous work, Cyrano de Bergerac, was spun out of his own chaotic life. He not only invests Cyrano with the panache he privately lacks, but helps out an actor-friend by writing love letters on his behalf to a wardrobe mistress. This leads to marital misunderstanding and farcical mayhem in the spirit of Georges Feydeau, who appears as a minor character.
What’s new Top Girls Revival of Caryl Churchill’s landmark play about the
rise of women to positions of power. Until June 22, at the Lyttelton, SE1 (020–7452 3000) Kunene and the King John Kani and Sir Antony Sher star in
the former’s play about an inter-racial relationship in modern South Africa. Until April 23, at the Swan Theatre, Stratfordupon-Avon (01789 331111) The Omission of the Family Coleman An absurdist Argentinian
comedy about three generations of a dysfunctional family. Until April 25, at the Ustinov Studio, Bath (01225 448844)
Peter Gynt James McArdle stars in David Hare’s radical new
version of Ibsen’s mighty poetic epic. From June 27, at the Olivier, SE1 (020–7452 3000)
Last chance to see
The Price Brilliant revival of Arthur Miller’s forgotten classic
about a family at odds over its inheritance. Until April 27, at Wyndham’s Theatre, WC2 (0844 482 5120)
Give this a miss
The Twilight Zone Pointless adaptation of a cult TV series.
Until June 1, at the Ambassadors, WC2 (020–7395 5405)
The funniest performance comes from Henry Goodman as Constant Coquelin, the first Cyrano, whom he endows with the armour-plated ego of a famous French actor-manager. A special award for bravery goes to Robin Morrissey, who, as Rostand’s lovelorn actor friend, is required to fall backwards off an overturned ladder. I just hope he survives the tour. After all this frenzy, the revival of David Hare’s The Bay at Nice at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory seems like a refreshing draught of cool air. First seen at the National in 1986, the play is set in 1950s Leningrad and shows a steely matriarch, Valentina, being asked to authenticate a painting by Matisse at the same time that she’s begged by her daughter to accept the latter’s divorce from her husband. The playwright raises a host of intriguing issues and argues that great art can never be Penelope Wilton’s subtle performance is the main reason to see The Bay at Nice
created by an effort of will. That idea goes for plays, too. I also feel that this one benefited from being seen, as it was originally, with a companion piece, Wrecked Eggs. However, Richard Eyre’s production boasts a beautiful performance from Penelope Wilton as Valentina; she has the rare capacity to create a character through minimal movement and gesture and, when she’s finally confronted by Matisse’s newly acquired masterpiece, her features take on a radiant glow like a city in illumination. ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, until August 31 (01789 331111); ‘Edmond de Bergerac’, on tour until May 4; ‘The Bay at Nice’, until May 4 (020–7378 1713)
At a glance
The Taming of the Shrew ✸✸✸✸✸ Edmond de Bergerac ✸✸✸✸✸ The Bay at Nice ✸✸✸✸✸ Country Life, April 3, 2019 131
Bridge Andrew Robson
A prize of £15 in book tokens will be awarded for the first correct solution opened. Solutions must reach Crossword No 4573, CounTry LIfe, Pinehurst II, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 7BF, by Tuesday, April 9. UK entrants only.
’m a great believer in the mantra of psychologists that goes ‘Happiness equals Reality divided by Expectations’. my expectations of Ostend, venue for the 54th European Championships, were, to be honest, pretty low. I had images of an industrial port, mussels and chips. In fact, Ostend is a perfectly pleasant destination and I could while away the hours when not at the table by walking along the long promenade and visiting remnants of last century’s World Wars. Our first Ostend deal comes from England versus the powerful Netherlands (which we narrowly lost 11–9). How would you declare Six Diamonds on a Club lead?
ACROSS 1 Impossible to spice up, like snow in July? (12) 9 music group’s terrible chore, backing cultural pursuits (9) 10 Angry buccaneer loses head (5) 11 Doomed person, one imprisoned by King George (5) 12 mistakenly invest in river— it’s vast! (9) 14 Ineffective way to economise? (7) 16 Doubter caught in putrid surroundings (7) 17 A couple of girls of fussy disposition (7) 18 Oration prepared for Canadian province (7) 19 Swimmer’s revolutionary film about Scottish island (3, 6) 21 Endless to-do about old Conservative’s centre of attraction (5) 22 Dark period when man with honour is beheaded (5) 24 Actor originally tackling Racine —very old man (9) 25 Like a city transporting mail to NE port (12)
DOWN 1 Indifferent editor supporting a French business (11) 2 Spike second piece of fruit (5) 3 Simply? Or callously, as a Cockney might say? (9) 4 Work with cunning, producing abstract painting (2, 3) 5 Oddly lamenting straightening up (9) 6 meadow the French admired at first (3) 7 Stoical duke abandons sledging for fun, unfortunately (4-9) 8 At which drivers may proceed on certain lines? (5, 8) 13 Nice to train free for reciprocal activity (11) 15 meet dean regularly at bar (9) 16 Deficiency in US possibly followed by long winter? (9) 20 Respite allowed at university? (3-2) 21 Fast-moving naval force (5) 23 American’s exclamation of surprise, for example, over English? (3)
Dealer West Both Vulnerable
Dealer north neither Vulnerable
10 6 4 72 J972 K 10 8 3
West Pass Pass Pass
East Pass(1) Pass
ADDRESS Tel No TI MedIa LIMITed, pubLIsher of CounTry LIfe wILL CoLLeCT your personaL InforMaTIon soLeLy To proCess your CoMpeTITIon enTry and Then IT wILL be desTroyed
SOLUTION TO 4572 ACROSS: 7, Canaille; 9, Acetic; 10, Bard; 11, Puerto Rico; 12, Lancer; 14, Telegram; 15, Selfpropelled; 17, Libretto; 19, Redraw; 21, Upstanding; 22, Stab; 23, Spirit; 24, Elevator. DOWN: 1, Panama; 2, Hard; 3, Claptrap; 4, Pastel; 5, Bedraggled; 6, Pilchard; 8, Electromotive; 13, Coloratura; 15, Soil pipe; 16, Earl Grey; 18, Tenets; 20, Amazon; 22, Spat. Winner of 4571 is Justin Bendig, Banstead, Surrey.
132 Country Life, April 3, 2019
87 a J 10 6 3 KQJ 642 south 2♥
(1) anyone for a pressure bid of Three Hearts? (2) ace-showing cue bids. (3) Good judgment, i think. His partner’s Diamonds are probably more internally solid than north’s own spades and his Diamonds (although not great) are probably better than partner’s spades (or lack thereof). Having said that, six spades would have made.
NAME (pLease prInT In CapITaLs)
63 Q985 96 aKQ53 K J 10 9 4 aQ52 742 K N 842 a 10 7 5 3 W ✢ E J8 10 9 7 S
aK98753 aK 65 J2 Q2 N QJ9863 W✢E 8 S Q965 J 10 5 4 a K Q 10 4 3 a74
Very pleased West, who held the master trump, had to follow to three rounds of Spades, declarer could now cross to the Ace of Hearts and lead a long Spade, discarding his remaining Club. Twelve tricks and slam made. One should say, however, that if Diamonds had split 3–2 and Spades 4–1, the Dutch line would have worked rather better than the monégasques. Our second Ostend deal comes from England versus Wales (England won 13–7) and it features good card-reading skills by declarer along the familiar lines of ‘If West held X, he would have led Y. He did not lead Y, therefore he does not hold X’.
The Dutch declarer chose to rely on Diamonds to split 3–2 (or a bare Knave). He ducked the opening Club lead. He won the second Club with the Ace, ruffed a Club, then led over to his Ace-King-Queen of Diamonds, preparing to claim his slam if the suit split. One down. The winning line was found by Pierre Zimmermann for monaco versus eventual winners Norway. Winning the Ace of Clubs straight away, declarer cashed the AceKing-Queen of Diamonds, observing the poor split. Undaunted, he crossed to the Ace-King of Spades, shedding one Club, and ruffed a third Spade.
West led a slow ten of Clubs versus Four Hearts. Declarer won dummy’s Ace and called for the Queen of Hearts. If East covered with the King, this would be a quick hand. When East played low, declarer took stock. West had led dummy’s suit— hardly attractive, even if the ten of Clubs was singleton. Surely West would have led a top Spade (Ace from Ace-King or King from KingQueen) if he held a sequence? East had to hold the King of Spades at the very least, yet West had opened the bidding—and East hadn’t uttered. To enable West to have opening bid values—and prevent East from having responding values (admittedly over North’s Two Clubs)—it was highly likely West held the King of Hearts (plus East may have covered the Queen —or at least flinched—if he held the King). Backing his logical deductions, declarer rose with the Ace—and West’s bare King was felled. Declarer drew trumps, cashed dummy’s Clubs, discarding Spades and was soon chalking up 12 tricks. www.countrylife.co.uk
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For a FREE brochure Call us today on or no obligation design consultation or visit us online at www.nationwideltd.co.uk *Only available with a 20% deposit and the Buy Now Pay Later finance option. Subject to application and status. Nationwide Home Innovations is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The ideal solution for • Areas with limited access • Sites of Specific Scientific Interests (SSSIs) Office hours: 01553 611834 Out of office hours: 01553 627 310 Mobile: 07768 234 336 W: www.jexplantukltd.co.uk E: email@example.com
Gardens & Outdoors Circulation: 41,698 Brand Reach: 482k To advertise in the Classiﬁed section please call 01252 555316 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Domestic Staffing Services Established in 1996 with offices in Kensington and Bath, we specialise in placing the very best experienced and/or qualified staff in London, the Country and Overseas. Our impressive register of professional candidates are thoroughly vetted and available for your selection We can provide: • Couples • Cooks/Chefs • Housekeepers • Housekeeper/Nannies • Butler/Valets/House Managers • Chauffeurs/Security • Gardeners • Estate Managers • PA/Grooms
020 7795 6255 (London posts) 01225 484190 (Country posts) email@example.com View our website for all current vacancies
17 Radley Mews, LondonW8 6JP
19-20 Charles Street, Bath BA1 1HX
Country Life, April 3 2019 135
Gardens & Outdoors
LIFE SIZE WILDLIFE SCULPTURE
Free delivery for Christmas
C L I M AT I S E D C O AT I N G S BEFORE
Climatised Coatings are a superb range of external wall coatings that are tough, flexible, durable and weatherproof •High build breathing coating suitable for all types of external walls • All latest colourings available •Nationwide service with over 20 years’ experience • Guaranteed not to flake, peel or chip for 10 years • Not affected by acid rain or salt laden atmosphere.
This resurfacing is applied by high pressure spray by our own fully trained staff. All our work is done by our highly trained personnel, to an exceptionally high standard of detail, rarely seen these days.
TELEPHONE 01244 378 488 FOR A QUOTE OR VISIT www.climatisedcoatings.co.uk
Gardens & Outdoors
Bespoke design & build treehouses, playhouses and elevated platforms. Commercial & International commissions welcomed
pond & lake management All the answers for ponds and lakes, using environmentally friendly methods. Specialising in algae and bulrush control, aquatic weed removal and other aquatic maintenance services. Large pond and lake construction. Jetties and bridges built to order. Desilting works. Aeration specialists. Japanese Knotweed Specialist. Otterbine fountain supply, installation and servicing.
TEL: +44 (0)1403 732452 www.cheekymonkeytreehouses.co.uk 136 Country Life, April 3 2019
Please ring for a brochure Tel: 01442 875616 Mobile: 07971 263588 www.clearwaterplm.co.uk www.countrylife.co.uk
vintage style at old-world prices decorative lighting from pooky.com
Country Life, April 3 2019 137
Order your free fabric samples at
thefootstoolworkshop.co.uk 01443 831 981
Beautiful. Practical. Customisable.
Exquisite Coromandel Crewels Suitable for both curtains and upholstery, and specifically designed for distinctive and period homes, these beautiful fabrics are entirely handmade and 100% natural. As supplied to the National Trust, they are based on Elizabethan and Jacobean designs, hand embroidered in subtle and elegant tones in durable, hand-dyed 2 ply wools.
web: www.coromandel.co.uk tel: 0118 9796222 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lovin l made to be seen
New brochure out now 0845 528 0932
www.MustHavebins.co.uk 138 Country Life, April 3 2019
B E S P O K E
Stair Rope Specialist
S T A I R R O P E S
Schools O THE T N I P STE
E XC IT I N G
SCH OO L IN EN GLA ND
Commerce House 4 High Street Nutfield Surrey RH1 4HQ www.stairropesdirect.com Email: email@example.com
Tel: 01737 823053 hurtwoodhouse.com
Land For Sale 400 Acres of Sporting Nature Reserve With £90,000 P.A. Grant Income Qualifies for Capital Gains Shelter – Inheritance Tax Free Located in beautiful central Somerset
Please mention Country Life when replying to adverts
A once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a Private Nature Reserve, with the benefit of a substantial grant income. Currently at £90,000 p.a. but this is scheduled for an increase in 2022. This is the largest privately owned site of this type in the South UK. Ideal for Sportsman, Photographers or Nature lovers. Great Crane, Snipe, Redshank, Redwing, Night Heron, Little Egret, Great White, Lapwing, and many other rare species. For the sporting rifle enthusiast there is deer shooting on the land, also vermin control of foxes, magpies, crows and other pests, which are a threat to the wading birds and rare species on the site. Wildfowl shooting also available by agreement with Natural England but due to the SSSI status it is subject to certain restrictions.
Luxury Life INCHYRA HOME
The site will only be sold as a whole but it could be syndicated between a club, organization or group of friends.
0.I.R.O £5,500 Per Acre (approx. 4% ROI yield). There is a optional guaranteed buy-back clause at a pre agreed profit which can be exercised after 4 years from purchase date. Nicely appointed farmhouse available for sale/lease.
Magnetic Aga Lid Covers The covers that don’t fall off!
The Maunsel estate has a fully staffed Stately Home with Cottages available for club events and accommodation. Initial Enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org This advertisement is for general promotion and information purposes and all content has been stated in best faith but does not form any part of an offer or contract. Potential purchasers must not entirely rely on any claim made within it and must seek legal advice and satisfy themselves of all aspects relating to the land including title, acreage, sporting potential, bird species on site and grant income. Charterhousebks Ltd and the writer do not warranty the accuracy of the wording or of any claims made in this advertisement
www.inchyrahome.co.uk | 01738 860066 Country Life, April 3 2019 139
An Exquisite Memory Box is a beautiful piece of art where precious, personal and family memories will always be safe. More than this, each individually hand crafted box is a true token of love symbolised in personal marquetry, celebrating a defining moment in life. Truly a wonderful gift to be cherished, admired and remembered by.
For further information or to request a free Little Book of Memories, please call +44(0)1332 824819, email email@example.com or visit www.exquisitememorybox.com
Fine Tapestries - Handwoven, Jacquard, Antique & Custom
+44 (0)1865 741144
Browse online • Phone for a Catalogue • Visit our Showrooms
Personal Are You Looking For A Genuine Relationship? Naturally pretty, feminine, well spoken, 5’7” and elegant with long fair hair, my client grew up in Edinburgh, where she lived for most of her childhood. Privately educated and now living in London, she has a professional career that she really enjoys, but really would love to settle down and share her life with someone from a similar social background. At forty-one her wish would be to have a child. Equally, she is open to meeting someone up to the age of fifty- seven who does not wish to have children. For my client, it’s all about meeting someone she can really love and care for and vice versa, plus sit in the silence with her partner from time to time and not feel the silence, because she truly believes that a man brings balance to a woman’s life. She is active, sporty, follows country pursuits but also enjoys what London has to offer in the way of culture. NO FEE for introducing you to my client. Contact HEATHER HEBERPERCY on 0208 9943500 www.thecountyregister.com
140 Country Life, April 3 2019
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Great number Great investment
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or contact your local travel agent www.countrylife.co.uk
Country Life, April 3 2019 141
A better class of bodger
’LL say this much,’ the chippy admitted, surveying our homemade bookshelves. ‘You’re a good bodger.’ Seldom have I been more pleased. A bodger, technically, is a skilled woodturner who works in the woods around High Wycombe, but it has come to mean someone who uses whatever comes to hand and makes something of it. If he was right, it’s because, over the years, I have learned that inertia is as powerful in construction as pegs or screws. My carpentry depends largely on heavy leaning and a few nails and it works. A big Modernist architect once confessed to me the terrible truth about his first housing scheme, on which he’d forgotten to provide any form of tie between the roof and the walls. Once he’d realised his error, he became hollow-eyed from lack of sleep, but, over time, when the roofs stayed put and nobody complained, he began to relax. The 1987 storm gave him a restless night, but, basically, the
weight of the roof kept it safely clamped to the building underneath. I could have told him that. As for our bookshelves, it was our friend Alastair who showed me how to build a simple stepped bookcase, using pins, planks and a length of quartersawn dowelling. I’ve churned out bookcases modelled on the original ever since. Alastair lives in a beautiful house that began life as a kit bungalow, designed for reassembly by Edwardian tea planters in Kenya or Assam. Somehow, it got built on the side of a beech hanger in Hampshire instead. It’s a testament to high-grade bodging. Alastair’s father-in-law embellished it by putting on a second storey. Later, he lined the whole place with oak panelling he had rescued from skips in Farnham after the war. In those days, it took someone with the heart of a bodger to see that yards of fine Georgian panelling was worth saving. Skips provided the strings and steps of a handsome staircase, too, and
Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation
By Annie Tempest
Alastair’s model bookcases line a room at the back of the house. The bookcases, if you’re interested, are 3ft wide. The base is 9in deep and 32in tall with either two or three shelves. The upper bookcase is divided into five shelves and is 4ft 6in tall and 6in deep. The two cases stand one on top of the other. They are easy to move about empty and, because
My carpentry depends largely on heavy leaning and a few nails and it works they’re all the same, with a small shelf a third of the way up, they can be pushed together to fill any size of wall. Sometimes, I set two wide apart and fill the gap with more shelves at the same height. They always look well. We had run out of room to put up any more so, at the weekend,
Izzy and I built a new outcrop of shelving, springing from and around the existing bookcases to create a properly book-lined room, with shelves all the way up to the ceiling. They even run above the doorway as they do in Parisian apartments. Izzy is a better carpenter than I am and uses a measuring tape and a spirit level. You want your children to excel, but it might be more tactful if they hid a few rays of their light under a bushel, at least until I’m dead. We used all the old floorboards, offcuts of ply and lengths of nail-studded skirting we could find in the shed. Normally, I would have painted everything white, but Alastair always paints his woodwork in that special matte brown that big houses used below stairs and in the attics and I think he’s right. Being too impatient to undercoat and matte, we filled the plain wooden shelves instead with those books that, as the saying goes, do furnish a room. You might call it driftwood style. That’s bodging.
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Conditions of Sale and Supply: This periodical is sold subject to the following conditions, namely that it shall not, without the written consent of the publishers first given, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade at a price in excess of the recommended maximum price shown on the cover (selling price in Eire subject to VAT); and that it shall not be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise disposed of in a mutilated condition or in any unauthorised cover by way of trade; or affixed to or as part of any publication or advertising, literary or pictorial matter whatsoever. COUNTRY LIFE (incorporating LONDON PORTRAIT) is published weekly (51 issues) by TI Media Limited, 161 Marsh Wall, London, England E14 9AP (020–314 8 5000). Website: www.ti-media.com © TI Media Limited. Printed in the UK by Walstead UK Limited ISSN 0045 8856. Distributed by MarketForce UK Ltd, 5, Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HU (020–3787 9001). COUNTRY LIFE ® is a registered TI Media Limited trademark. ©TI Media Limited.
142 Country Life, April 3, 2019