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PETER HITCHENS Winter/Spring 2019–20 £3.95 where sold

The journalist, author and broadcaster on bottle-washing at the brewery, bacon sandwiches on the barricades and the power of frozen thought



An in-depth look at the long and fascinating history of Warwickshire’s art gallery and park


The story of Wiltshire’s Imber and its tragic wartime past

PLUS . . .

Pershore Patty restaurant reviews | Great winter/spring wines | Corse Lawn, Cotswold treasure | The return of the rare pine marten | Books: Hereford in 50 buildings and Oxfordshire in Photographs | West Berkshire Museum | all the regulars and so much more. . . .



Discover three centuries of colourful history through the world’s largest collection of Worcester porcelain www.museumofroyalworcester.org/your-visit Free audio guide with entry* and under-16s come in free Ask us about our group packages and venue hire for your special event Museum of Royal Worcester, Severn Street, Worcester WR1 2ND T: 01905 21247 www.museumofroyalworcester.org Open Monday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 10 am – 4 pm *Subject to availability ‘Royal Worcester’ and the C51 crown device are registered by and used under kind permission from Portmeirion Group UK Ltd to whom all rights are reserved.










Media Executive Jenny Walsh Feature Writer Gerald Heys MA Editorial Contributors Oliver Cartwright Victoria Evans Julie Finch Janine Fox Sue Knox Michele Longari Dr Catherine McNicol Pershore Patty Dr Emma Philpott MBE Caroline Sproule Martyn Wilson Client Accounts Lissie Goble Finance Katherine Baines BA (Hons) FCCA Publisher Western Regional Media Ltd

WR, The Western Regional magazine Open Space Chequers Close Enigma Park Malvern WR14 1GP hello@westernregional.co.uk www.westernregional.co.uk

ISSN 2059-2965 WR, The Western Regional magazine is published by Western Regional Media Ltd, a subsidiary of International Business Press Ltd. Articles and other material appearing in this magazine may be reproduced only with the express written permission from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed in the articles herein are those of the authors concerned and are not endorsed by the publisher. While every care has been taken during the production process, the publisher does not accept any liability for errors that may have occurred, nor for the views expressed.

© International Business Press Ltd. 2020



elcome to the Winter/ Spring 2019–20 issue of WR, The Western Regional magazine. If you haven’t noticed already, we’ve expanded our reach to include the whole of Middle England, including The Royal County of Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and, of course, Worcestershire. . . .

for the furore it provoked, with questions even being raised in Parliament. In our Heritage section, we discover more about the West Berkshire Museum, which is housed in two of Newbury’s best loved historic buildings: the seventeenth century Cloth Hall and the old Granary/Corn Stores in the Wharf.

In this issue, Pershore Patty reviews not one but two exceptional restaurants: The Baiting House in Worcestershire and Purslane Restaurant in Gloucestershire. It makes for a mouth-watering read.

In Warwickshire, we explore the history of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park. Once a medieval manor, it went through several transformations before receiving the ‘Capability’ Brown treatment in the mid-eighteenth century.

Also in Gloucestershire, we hear about the welcome reintroduction of the rare pine marten into the Forest of Dean. Once a familiar feature in the woodlands of England, the pine marten stood on the brink of extinction . . . until now. Last year, 18 pine martens were moved from Scotland to Gloucestershire, fitted with tracking collars and released into the forest.

After World War II, however, it became derelict but, in the early 1990s, it was purchased by the Peter Moores Foundation, which transformed it into a modern art gallery, adding a contemporary new wing to house exhibition spaces, catering facilities and a shop. There has also been an ongoing programme to restore many of Brown’s features within the grounds.

Over the next two years, more of these cat-sized omnivores will be released into the forest and it is hoped they will spread and link up with the recently reintroduced Welsh pine martens, creating a new stronghold for the species and ensuring its survival.

Our interview in this issue is with journalist, author and broadcaster Peter Hitchens, who discusses Oxford, bottle-washing at the brewery, bacon sandwiches on the barricades and the power of frozen thought.

A few years ago, I visited the ghost village of Imber in the middle of Salisbury Plain’s military training area in Wiltshire during one of its few open days. I found it a very poignant experience and its tragic, extraordinary story, outlined in our Nooks & Crannies section, is well worth remembering for the distress it caused and

And, finally, after nearly five years, it’s time for me to bid farewell. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work on such a significant magazine since its very beginning. We’ve met some fascinating people and we’ve achieved such a lot producing what I hope has been an informative, educational and inspirational title; and I leave knowing that it remains in good hands. Enjoy the read. Pippa Sanderson Publishing Director



To read the magazine online, visit ▷ www.westernregional.co.uk



If you would like to contribute an article of historical or cultural value to do with Middle England, then get in touch with us at hello@westernregional.co.uk

Publishing Director Pippa Sanderson BA (Hons)



Image: Terry Whittaker/2020 VISION



6. 8. 11. 13. 14.




28. 30. 32. 4


Great winter/spring wines for 2020, with Michele Longari Review of The Baiting House, Upper Sapey, with Pershore Patty Review of Purslane Restaurant, Cheltenham, with Pershore Patty Corse Lawn, a Cotswold treasure Recipe: St Clement’s zesty polenta cake

FASHION It’s a wrap . . . sophisticated, stylish wrap dresses are a musthave this season

INTERIORS Great expectations: Transforming your guest room to delight your guests, with Victoria Evans

HEALTH Eating to boost your immune defences, with Caroline Sproule


40. 43. 46. 49.

Essentially cyber, with Dr Emma Philpott MBE



Imber village: Population zero

BOOKS Hereford in 50 buildings Oxfordshire in photographs Walking Worcestershire: THE GEOPARK WAY

HERITAGE 52. 54.

FLORA & FAUNA Designing your garden, with Martyn Wilson Climate, food production and waste, with Oliver Cartwright The return of the rare pine marten


All about West Berkshire Museum Like a phoenix from the ashes: The history of Compton Verney


My kind of town: Oxford Journalist, author and broadcaster Peter Hitchens

40. ISSUE 17 | WINTER/SPRING 2019–20






46. |




FURTHER INFORMATION Please note, Hay Wines stocks a wide range of organic, biodynamic and natural wines. All the wines listed here are also available online at

▷ haywines.co.uk/shop

If you want to learn more about this fantastic world of wine in an informal way, or maybe just fancy spending a nice evening of fun, tasting good wines, please visit ▷ haywines. co.uk/wine-tasting for a list of our upcoming events.

Great winter/spring wines for 2020 Imagine this scenario: a rainy day in January; a glass of a rich, full-bodied wine and you, just relaxing in front of a roaring fire after a busy day. I personally believe life does not get much better than this and I am sure this statement is going to strike a chord with a huge number of followers out there


or many of us, the changing seasons come with changing preferences in wine. The crisp whites we crave in summer, give way to heartier reds in the winter months. Finding wines enjoyable during the cold season is not at all difficult. This is because we have a wider range of options available. From structured vintage champagnes, to full-bodied red wines; from rich whites, to luxurious fortified wines. As usual, personal preference trumps everything else, but here are some general guidelines that can help you to decide which wines to choose in the coming months.



1. THE SECRETS FOR A NICE BODY: ALCOHOL AND GLYCEROL Since I am a sommelier, you may have guessed that we are talking about the body of a wine, a characteristic that is extremely important to match our favourite winter and early spring dishes. We all know what alcohol is, but what about glycerol? And why is it widely regarded as a key element in wine body and viscosity? Glycerol is synthesised from glucose within yeast cells during fermentation

and it is the most abundant compound in wine after water and ethanol. The richer (in sugars) the grapes, the more alcohol and glycerol you get in your glass.


Michele Longari is the Sommelier and Import Manager for Hay Wines in Ledbury, Herefordshire. See ▷ haywines.co.uk for more.

2. TANNICITY: A POLYHEDRIC ALLY Tannins are naturally occurring polyphenols that are present in wine grape seeds and skins in particular. They are most commonly found in red wines (but also orange wines), since they are made by leaving the must in contact with the skins for a few days during alcoholic fermentation.

Tannins add both bitterness and astringency to a wine, but they also increase its complexity and texture. What’s more, they are very popular among chefs and sommeliers for their ability to elegantly cleanse the palate from greasy and fatty foods. So, you can now understand why tannic wines are definitely something you do not want to run out of!



lbec tain, Ma ts Moun .99) e e M n Ma e na, £9 Classiqu (Argenti n Cuvee to n ro F , ) Le Roc , £11.99 ej Chateau (France e Wine ‘V g n ra O , lo ro ) a 9 17.6 Prad (Italy, £ Podere Antico’ Bianco



maro Negroa l Pumo’ ‘I , o n a rz 10.49) n San Ma (Italy, £ Semillo election S d n ra G , e ll 12.99) Laposto (Chile, £ tralia, £13.29) us (A r ie , Viogn Tahbilk

3. (RESIDUAL) SUGARS CAN BE FRIENDS In wine tasting, you always need to keep in mind that sweetness decreases the sensation of acidity; aka freshness.

Although glycerol is not as important as alcohol to increase the body of a wine, it does play a substantial part due to its ‘almost sweet’ taste. Cool-climate wine regions usually do not have the right conditions during the summer to develop high levels of sugar concentration in their grapes, so it is better to look south . . . or north, depending on which hemisphere you are in!




This is the reason why residual sugars can be helpful in the coming weeks, as they increase body, viscosity and the general mouthfeel sensations of the wine.

) ly, £9.99 atina (Ita c (France, ro C , a tt n Bla La Pio n, Pinot u Mouli Dopff A al, £13.99) (Portug rve Port e s e R , s ill’ Church £16.99)

In addition, sweet (or slightly sweet) wines are very popular matchings for aged and blue cheeses . . . well, I feel hungry already! ›







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t the top of the hill climbing out of the Teme Valley, just as you cross the border from Worcestershire into Herefordshire, lies the small village of Upper Sapey. It is here that you’ll find The Baiting House. The focal point of village life for well over a century, The Baiting House was, traditionally, the place where drovers and waggoners, climbing the hill with their horses, would stop for ‘bait’ (the local word for food, or a small snack). The earliest census records date to 1840, when a wheelwright called Peregrine Perkins occupied the property and had a useful sideline as a beer maker.




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The prix fixe lunch menu is exceptional value: two courses for £20.00 or three courses for £25.00, offering a selection from the main dinner menu. Food is served both in the bustling bar area, which is dog friendly, and the main restaurant. We received a warm welcome during our lunchtime visit, which kicked off with a Blackberry Bellini from The Baiting House’s cocktails list. I started with the twice baked little Hereford cheese soufflé, which came served in the piping hot stoneware dish within which it had been cooked. The soufflé itself was light and fluffy, which transformed into a moreish decadence with each mouthful when combined with the creamy, cheese sauce. Every now and then I experienced a taste of red pepper and a caramelised onion crumb: comforting, indulgent and entirely marvellous.

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Having fallen into disrepair at the beginning of the current re fo decade, The Baiting House closed rd c h e e s e s o u f f l é . completely early in 2015, only to be totally refurbished and reborn after being bought by local couple, Andrew and Kate, in September 2015.











The Baiting House offers something for everyone – an excellent selection of local cask ales and ciders from its own Herefordshire orchards, fine wines and a two AA Rosette restaurant offering fresh local ingredients cooked beautifully m p, nd by head chef Charles Bradley. a br e oc ri n co l In addition to great food, The t er i , f et a c h ee se , p ot at o Baiting House offers six luxury en-suite bedrooms, with comfy beds, Egyptian cotton bed linens, flat-screen TVs and power showers. Dog friendly rooms are also available.

My dining partner opted for the smoked haddock scotch egg with a ‘chip shop’ curry sauce. A soft egg yolk was revealed when the scotch egg was halved with the outer crunch of the scotch egg contrasting well with the softer haddock layer. The curry sauce added a depth of flavour, which built in heat over time.


Living in Pershore, Worcestershire, Patty’s passion for food and burgers inspired her to start a food blog: simple recipes she cooks at home and updates on visits to eateries.

To read about Pershore Patty’s culinary exploits, visit: ▷ www.pershorepatty.com Facebook: /pershorepatty Twitter: @pershorepatty Instagram: pershorepatty







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To follow, a dreamy plate of lamb rump with braised shoulder, broccoli, feta cheese, potato terrine and lamb sauce was presented across the table from me. I had complete food envy, and my dining partner revealed that the lamb was one of the most tender and flavoursome cuts he remembers experiencing.

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My eyes lit up when I saw the large portion of cod fillet in front of me, accompanied by a mussel puree, cauliflower, potato terrine and an intense shellfish sauce. The cooking of the cod was magnificent and the entire lunch had been an absolute culinary triumph, so much so that we couldn’t get enough and ordered a sticky toffee pudding to end with . . . highly recommended.

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This is one of the most idyllic country pubs with some of the best food you can find in the area. ›


y mother has always been an amazing cook. As a child, she encouraged me to bake with her; she taught me to make all of the basics from scratch and I still do a mean chilli con carne. I’ve such fond memories of licking the bowl after the Victoria sponge mix went into the tin and salivating as I waited for the cake to rise in the oven. I loved the magic of how a few simple ingredients could transform themselves into something that not only smelled and tasted extraordinary, but also looked so incredibly beautiful too. Although my Mum did cook for our family, my parents also had a business that required them to travel the world and entertain clients, which meant they ate out . . . a lot. I was fortunate enough to dine with them at some unforgettable restaurants, pubs, tucked-away eateries (best kept secrets known only to the locals) and, from a young age, I learned all about fine dining. Food has always excited me. The journey of reading the words on a menu and picturing in your mind how that plate of food might look, smell and taste. Then it arrives at your table and the clever chef who’s designed and made this piece of art completely blows your mind with their creation. It’s entirely fascinating. It’s not just fine dining and Michelin star restaurants that impress me though, one of my quests is to find the perfect burger, if there is such a thing. Living in Pershore, Worcestershire, my passion for food and burgers has inspired me to start a food blog called Pershore Patty. I post simple recipes that I cook at home, updates on visits to food places both locally and during my travels and, of course, photos of lovely burgers. The quest continues. To read about Pershore Patty’s culinary exploits, please visit:

▷ www.pershorepatty.com Facebook: /pershorepatty Twitter: @pershorepatty Instagram: pershorepatty

THE BAITING HOUSE Upper Sapey, Worcester WR6 6XT ▷ baitinghouse.co.uk




Go on . . . give your tummy a treat

Enjoy year-long offers at more than 115 of Worcestershire’s best independent restaurants, food & drink shops, cafes, pubs, cookery schools and more with The Foodie Card. Yummy :)

GRAB a card for £15 (or two for £25) and view all offers at www.pershorepatty.com WR magazine readers can buy The Foodie Card by visiting

www.pershorepatty.com/shop. Just enter ‘WRFOODIE19’ at the checkout to receive £5 off. Don’t forget to tag us when you use your card on social media with #TheFoodieCard 10 |



review with PERSHORE PATTY



urslane is an independent, family run restaurant, which can be found quietly tucked away on Rodney Road, just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Cheltenham’s busy high street. Purslane prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients available and the most sustainably-caught seafood from British waters.

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Chef patron Gareth Fulford, along with his wife Helena, began their journey with Purslane Restaurant back in 2012. It was a dream come true for Gareth, who has had a wealth of experience working in professional kitchens for more than two bo decades, including The Kingham uc he of f Plough, and he cooked for the i sh , ch ip s a n d pe a s. Queen for three years at the Chelsea Flower Show and at Royal Ascot in the earlier stages of his career.


Cheltenham’s newest fine-dining restaurant, specialising in British seafood and Cotswold produce, very quickly gained recognition in the highest of forms by critics (Jay Rayner), and food and drink guides, most notably recognised by the Michelin Guide, Harden’s and The Good Food Guide.

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The dining room setting is intimate and informal, with a tasteful decor. The front of house team were knowledgeable and attentive, and service was well-timed, yet non-intrusive. Having ordered only from the à la carte menu on the two previous times we’d dined

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at the restaurant, we were excited to be taken on a journey through a selection of courses with the five-course tasting menu (£65.00 per person). We got started with a trout cannelloni topped with caviar and beetroot powder, followed by an amuse-bouche, which was Gareth’s take on fish, chips and peas, which tasted exactly as described. Both were a visually stunning and flavoursome introduction into the two-and-a-half hour lunch sitting. We also enjoyed a selection of freshly baked bread with two types of butter: seaweed and a smoky taramasalata version, before the first course arrived. The Cornish brill, cured in Twisting Gin (a local gin made in Tewkesbury) with douglas fir, pistachio, yoghurt and purslane, was packed full of the tastes of Christmas, and I mean this in a very good way. The brill was light and fresh, and this continued through to the next course of Cornish crab, golden beetroot, brown shrimps, radish and apple dashi. The small plates of fishy snacks and starters made for a perfect lunch menu which, for me, would have followed with a scallop course, which is next on the seven-course version of the menu (available on Fridays and Saturdays for £78.00 per person).


Living in Pershore, Worcestershire, Patty’s passion for food and burgers inspired her to start a food blog: simple recipes she cooks at home and updates on visits to eateries.

To read about Pershore Patty’s culinary exploits, visit: ▷ www.pershorepatty.com Facebook: /pershorepatty review with Twitter: @pershorepatty Instagram: pershorepatty PERSHORE PATTY





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We moved on next to the Haybaked Cotswold partridge, a rich plate of food packed full of delicious wintery flavours of glazed heritage carrots, pancetta with savoy and quince, and a buttermilk fried partridge leg served on the side.



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As well as the tasting menus which change every two months with the seasons, there is a choice of à la carte, an early supper and a light lunch menu. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday



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To balance everything out, we enjoyed a light ra s b, dessert of Comice pear, made di go ra s, ld e p up of buttermilk, Scots pine and m n be i r e t r o o t , b ro w n s h hazelnut, which was a refreshing first dessert . . . and it looked spectacular too! Finally our favourite of the two puddings was the rich black treacle sourdough tart, clotted cream, clementine and sea buckthorn. To finish, we were offered coffee and handmade petits fours to send us dreamily off on to a cloud of happiness for the rest of the day.


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for lunch and dinner. We first visited Purslane in 2016 and the very high standards of cooking we experienced back then have developed further to make this one of the most memorable and spectacular restaurants in the Cotswolds region. ›

To read about Pershore Patty’s culinary exploits, please visit:

▷ www.pershorepatty.com Facebook: /pershorepatty Twitter: @pershorepatty Instagram: pershorepatty

PURSLANE RESTAURANT 16 Rodney Rd, Cheltenham GL50 1JJ

▷ www.purslane-restaurant.co.uk

12 |



Image: Corse Lawn House Hotel

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loyal suppliers, many of whom have been catering to the business for more than 40 years.

Corse Lawn,

a Cotswold treasure


The multi award-winning restaurant has acquired several accolades over the years, including AA Rosettes, and it has been included in The Good Food Guide, Harden’s and Michelin guides. In November 2019, the talented Chris Exley was appointed as Head Chef. He has brought a wealth of experience


Image: Corse Lawn House Hotel


orse Lawn House Hotel is a traditional Grade II-listed family run hotel, which was taken on by its current owners, the Hine family, in the late 1970s. They had been looking for a restaurant in the Cotswolds and rescued the building from its previous guise as a nightclub and bankrupt restaurant. This was the ideal project for them and they transformed the space into a luxury hotel, which today continues to be run by mother and son team, Baba and Giles Hine.

Top left: Exterior of the Corse Lawn House Hotel. Top right: Grilled fillet of sea bream with crab bisque and spinach. Below: The luxurious interior of the Corse Lawn.

with him, having trained alongside two-time Michelin star chef, Paul Heathcote, in Preston. Having relocated to Worcestershire, Chris worked at some notable award-winning gastro pubs in the county and is lifting standards by producing some delicious dishes with which to delight guests. Everything is made in the kitchen – including canapés, various breads and petit fours – using local and sustainable produce with the help of the hotel’s

Corse Lawn House Hotel is located a few miles from Tewkesbury. The 18 luxury rooms include standard double/twin rooms, superior doubles and suites. Leisure facilities include an indoor swimming pool, tennis court and access to leisurely walks around the stunning 12 acres of grounds. Dining at Corse Lawn House Hotel continues to be at the heart of the business, as it has been since it all started when Baba and her late husband, Denis, first took on the property more than four decades ago; and breakfast continues to be a lavish affair, which Baba cooks herself. The hotel is a popular wedding reception venue, chosen by couples for its charming character, unspoilt surroundings and breathtaking views of the Malvern Hills. ›

FURTHER INFORMATION Visit ▷ www.corselawn.com for more information, email enquiries@ corselawn.com, or telephone 01452 780771 to make a reservation.

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FOOD & DRINK St Clement’s


polenta cake INGREDIENTS • • • • • • • • • • • •


his delicious polenta-based cake is moist, tangy and packed full of nutrition. It’s virtually gluten-free and, if made with good quality olive oil, tastes luxurious and wholesome. Polenta, an alternative corn-based grain, is often used instead of flour in Italy and Eastern European counties, and its name is derived from the Latin pollen, meaning fine flour.

METHOD Grease an eight inch loaf tin, or similar, with a little olive oil. TIP: Line the bottom with baking paper to avoid the cake sticking. Set the oven to 190ºC, (180ºC if fan-assisted), 375ºF or Gas 5.

drizzle). TIP: Make sure small pips don’t slip through; sieve if necessary to remove any large bits and pips. 3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground almonds, polenta, golden caster sugar, baking powder, oil, mixed spice and eggs. 4. Add the grated fruit zest and mix well, making sure everything is coated with the oil. TIP: If your polenta isn’t very fine, beat well to break it down further. 5. Place the mix into the baking tin. Level off but avoid pressing the mixture down too much.

1. Wash the oranges and lemon and dry thoroughly. Using a fine grater, take the zest only from the fruit and set aside. TIP: Large pieces of zest are more chewy and less appetising. If you don’t have a fine grater, chop the zest more finely with a sharp knife after grating.

6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35–40 minutes. To test that the cake is ready, push a sharp knife into its centre. If the knife is sticky and the mixture appears undercooked when the knife is withdrawn, place the cake back into the oven for a few more minutes or until the knife comes out clean.

2. Squeeze the fruit and set the juice aside (this will be used later for the

7. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin.

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6 oz fine, dry polenta 6 oz ground almonds 6 oz golden caster sugar 2 eggs 130 ml good quality olive oil 2 level teaspoons baking powder 2 medium Jaffa oranges 1 lemon, unwaxed (scrub well if waxed) 2 oz almond pieces, roasted in the oven for 6–7 minutes until golden 1 teaspoon mixed sweet spice 2 oz icing sugar baking paper

8. To make the drizzle: While the cake is cooling, add the icing sugar to the squeezed juice to make a slightly thickened drizzle. 9. When the cake is fully cooled, use a cocktail stick, small skewer or knife to prick the cake all over. TIP: Do this slowly to avoid breaking the surface too much. Push the cocktail stick right to the bottom of the tin to ‘drill’ holes from top to bottom. 10. Use a spoon to drizzle the juice mixture all over the cake, which should start to permeate through the cake. Continue to do this slowly until all of the juice is used up. TIP: There will appear to be a lot a drizzle, but continue until it’s all used up, paying attention to the edges and sides of the cake. Try to distribute evenly. 11. Finally, turn the cake out onto a board or serving plate, scatter the roasted almonds on the top and decorate with finely sliced orange if desired (as shown). TIP: For a winter look, sprinkle lightly with sieved icing sugar. ›



It’s a wrap... Sophisticated, stylish wrap dresses are a musthave this season and there are lots of patterns, textures and lengths from which to choose. From leopard print to soft velvet and luxurious cashmere, these fabulous frocks will really enhance your daytime or evening look. . . .

DANCING LEOPARD JAGGER DRESS £55.00 ▷ www. dancingleopard.co.uk

CHOCOLATE BROWN CASHMERE WRAP DRESS £299.00 ▷ www.purecollection.com

LIPSY GLITTER WRAP DRESS £62.00 ▷ www.lipsy.co.uk

ROMAN SEQUIN DRESS £65.00 ▷ www.romanoriginals.co.uk

VERY SEQUIN WRAP DRESS £65.00 ▷ www.very.co.uk


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DANCING LEOPARD YONDAL DRESS IN BLUSH LEOPARD £49.00 ▷ www.dancingleopard.co.uk

BON PRIX PINK STRIPED WRAP DRESS £39.99 ▷ www.bonprix.co.uk

NEW LOOK CURVES ZEBRA PRINT WRAP DRESS £25.99 ▷ www.newlook.co.uk

WALLIS BLACK CHAIN PRINT WRAP DRESS £40.00 ▷ www.wallis.co.uk

16 |



Victoria heads up Worcester-based Decorum, which is accredited and regulated by the Society of British & International Designers (SBID). Acknowledged as


experienced professionals in their field, you can find out more information about Victoria and the company at â–· www.decoruminteriordesign.com.








A room that often gets left last on everyone’s priorities is actually one of the most important. Having a guest room that gives off nothing but a sense of warmth and invitation is essential to ensure your visitors have an enjoyable stay. But how do you get that luxury, hotel-like look for your guest room?

What steps can you take to achieve a better guest room?


s everyone knows, you really do get the best night’s sleep in a lavish hotel. From the crisp sheets to the fresh decor, it all provides you with such a comforting feeling. The good news is that it’s more than possible to recreate this exact same look and feel in the comfort of your own home. To achieve the best out of your guest room, it’s important that you go the extra mile. Now we aren’t saying you have to splurge, but simply taking your visitors’ needs into consideration and catering for them with small gestures will ensure they get the very best out of their stay.

18 |

TOILETRIES It’s fair to say that many of us can, occasionally, be a little forgetful and find ourselves without a vital thing or two when we visit friends, so providing a gift basket is the perfect present for your guests. Simply filling it with necessities such as a (sealed) toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, makeup wipes and razors, as well as soap, will not only make your visitors very thankful, but will also make a lovely greeting.


Victoria heads up Worcester-based Decorum, which is accredited and regulated by the Society of British & International Designers (SBID). Acknowledged as

experienced professionals in their field, you can find out more information about Victoria and the company at ▷ www.decoruminteriordesign.com.

For the final touch, fit out the bedside tables with a bottle of water in case they wake up feeling thirsty and don’t fancy knocking around in their host’s kitchen. FLOWERS Never underestimate the power of flowers. Not only do they make a room instantly look more cared for and fancy, but they also have the ability to support a good night’s sleep by improving oxygen levels in a room.

WARDROBE SPACE As we all know, it can be really frustrating having to live out of a suitcase where your clothing begins to descend into a creased mess. Therefore, your guest will very much appreciate having the opportunity to

TOWELS AND ROBES Something so simple but so important. Set out plenty of stacked fluffy and fresh white towels and hand towels for each guest so they don’t have to find themselves asking you for more. Don’t forget to leave some white robes for your guests to slip into as well; after all, is there anything better than getting into a robe after a shower? BEDDING Investing in good quality bedding is the key to a good night’s sleep. A bed topped with soft, white linens and duck featherfilled cushions will have your guests waking up rested and happy. Remember that the bed, or beds, should always have a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, a blanket and a duvet; just by having these few


ENTERTAINMENT Although you will more than likely be with your guests the majority of the time, you should think about providing some sort of entertainment for when you are not. This doesn’t necessarily mean a TV, but leaving some of your favourite books or magazines for your visitors to browse through is a touch that will not go unnoticed. If you want to be extra organised, leave a card for your guests with the Wi-Fi password.

unpack their belongings and hang them up in a wardrobe, so make sure you clear it out or buy a simple freestanding rail.

FULL-LENGTH MIRROR Is there anything more annoying than stepping foot into a hotel room and noticing there is no full-length mirror? Not only is this important so that your guests can look at themselves, but it is also beneficial in ways that it can increase the amount of light in a room and make the space look bigger, which makes a bedroom appear much more welcoming.

REFRESHMENT STATION If you have the space on a dressing table or bedside, providing refreshments such as coffee and teas, as well as some snacks (bonus points if you specify these to each visitor’s favourite), is an inexpensive way of making your visitors feel pampered.

CANDLES It’s a known fact that a flickering candle helps to reduce stress and help others achieve a meditative state. Not everyone loves a sweet-smelling candle, so ensure you have a selection of scented candles from which to choose. ›

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things, the level of cosiness will instantly upgrade. Opting for two feather and two foam pillows from which to choose is also a great idea, as everyone has different pillow preferences.

CHARGERS Have you ever left the house and, a couple of hours later, realised you’ve left your charger at home? Sometimes when you’re so busy you can’t think of everything and it can be really easy to forget certain items. Impress your guests by providing a charger, whether or not they need it.

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Top & Right: Staff and volunteers help patients with a range of activities. Above: the welcoming reception at KEMP Hospice. 22 |

Registered Charity 1146310


WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT Help us continue caring in your community Based in the heart of the Wyre Forest, KEMP Hospice provides a wide range of services, free of charge, to individuals and their families who are living with life-limiting illness and bereavement.

illness and support patients in expressing their feelings which can be difficult to talk about. The activities also often produce keepsakes for families to cherish and can be a helpful way to record memories.

Caring for the most vulnerable in our day hospice We are proud to be the only specialist nurse-led day hospice in the Wyre Forest. Patients come each week to be cared for by our experienced team. More than that, they share stories, experiences and jokes; create arts and crafts; and enjoy a delicious homecooked lunch. Taking a holistic approach, we offer complementary therapies, spiritual support and some pampering time.

As well as offering activities and therapies, KEMP also has a dedicated advisor on hand to help patients understand the financial help available and to access services.

Rob, who is living with motor neurone disease and spends each Wednesday at the hospice, said: “Coming to KEMP means that I can get away from my illness for a while. I stop dwelling on the difficulties and escape my four walls. I get physiotherapy to help with my mobility and counselling to give me the mental strength to help me deal with my physical problems.” Activities, such as cake decorating and gardening, enable patients to continue with existing hobbies as well as helping them discover hidden talents and new interests. As Rob explained: “I particularly enjoy Tai Chi because the gentle exercise helps me physically and the meditation calms my mind.” Creative activities provide a diversion from the daily pressures of living with serious

SUPPORT US BY DONATING YOUR TIME Get involved and join our team. We rely on a 250-strong team of volunteers to deliver our services. Without our volunteers’ time and commitment, KEMP would simply not exist. If you have some time to spare and would like to help people in your community, please call KEMP Hospice Volunteer Services on 01562 756000, or email volunteering@kemphospice.org.uk. WR, THE WESTERN REGIONAL MAGAZINE

Taking care of the carers KEMP for Carers offers home-based respite support to help full-time carers of patients with life-limiting conditions take a muchneeded break. Carers have total peace of mind, knowing their loved ones are in safe hands while they take time out to go shopping, meet up with a friend, or simply rest and re-charge. As one carer said: “I often found myself having panic attacks as I do find the care can be overwhelming at times. The help we get from KEMP for Carers helps me feel less like a carer and more like myself.” Emotional support and counselling for the whole family Our Family Support Team provides a lifeline to people in distress, pre- and postbereavement. We provide support following a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, or the death of a loved one. Through counselling, we offer practical and emotional help, as well as providing advice on accessing local and national support services. Bereavement support is available to anyone living in the Wyre Forest area, whether or not they have been touched by hospice care. It can be hard to know what to say to children and how best to help them cope with a loved one’s serious illness or death. KEMP for Kids is a specialist pre-and postbereavement service, enabling children to explore their experiences and emotions, involving creative and memory activities. The service we provide can be tailored to the specific needs of each child and can be delivered at home, in school or at the hospice. Our bereavement support group meets on Thursdays. Being surrounded by people who understand what it’s like losing someone close can help in the grieving process. As well as supporting each other

www.kemphospice.org.uk 01562 756000 emotionally, spiritually and socially, long term friendships are forged, which we are so proud to have played a part in facilitating. Find out more about our services For more information about accessing any of our services, please call 01562 756000 or visit www.kemphospice.org.uk.

SUPPORT US BY GIVING A REGULAR GIFT Every year KEMP needs over £1.4 million to operate its services, with 80 per cent of its funding coming from the generous support of our local community. One of the best ways to safeguard KEMP’s future is to set up a regular donation. Regular donations not only help fund the hospice’s current work, but they also help us plan our future care with more confidence. Regular giving is easy to set up and can be arranged around your personal budget. You can increase, decrease or cancel your donation at any time. What’s more, with GiftAid, if you are a UK taxpayer, your donation could be worth up to 25 per cent more, with no additional cost to you. A monthly donation can make a big difference, here’s how: Over the course of a year, a monthly donation of… £5 would fund a day’s care and support for a hospice patient £10 would fund a group creative therapy session £20 would pay for a child to attend our bereavement support activity weekend £30 would fund 18 physiotherapy sessions. To set up a regular donation, please visit www.kemphospice.org.uk/ regulargiving, or call the fundraising team on 01562 756066. We value your support. | 23



Eating to BOOST your

immune defences As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and trying to avoid winter’s colds and viruses is no exception. There are reportedly more than 200 cold viruses around in the winter, so arming ourselves against them and the dreaded flu virus is a good idea. Last year, more than 3,000 people in the UK were admitted to intensive care with flu, which is why we need to help ourselves stay protected


t’s good to know that we can boost our own defences by eating the right foods and taking a few simple steps. In fact, experience with my clients has taught me that most illness is caused by an excess or deficiency of a certain food or drink . . . and lifestyle habits. Before I met him, my partner Ian for example, was plagued all winter with a constant cold or sore throat, but since changing his diet two years ago and drinking plenty of water, he has not had a single cold. Fortunately, I have a very good immune system and, even though as a therapist and mother of five daughters I am often surrounded by coughs and colds, I tend to be able to escape unscathed. I put it down to my diet, lifestyle and good genes. In this issue, I would like to share with you some of my proven nutritional tips that I know will help you fight off a cold this winter . . . or hopefully prevent one from latching on.

Probiotics It might surprise you to know that part of our immune defence lies in the digestive tract in our gut. Maintaining a good supply of friendly bacteria (probiotics) in our digestive system has been shown to significantly reduce the severity of colds. One of the many roles of probiotics is to make sure food is assimilated and absorbed in the intestines, and if we eat a

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TO ACTIVATE AN IMMUNE RESPONSE, VITAMIN D MUST KICK-START T CELLS IN OUR BODY, WHICH CAN ATTACK AND NEUTRALISE ANY THREAT. healthy diet most of the time, we need to make sure we reap the benefits from it. Most healthy adults should have approximately two to three pounds of gut bacteria in our system. However, these days with the abundance of sugary foods, many of us have less than a third of the required bacteria. Greek yoghurt is a good source of it, but look for one like Yeo Valley or Rachel’s yoghurt, as they contain more live bacteria. And remember that the only food that feeds the good bacteria and helps it to multiply are vegetables (while fruit can be prone to feeding bad bacteria in the bowel, if eaten in excess). Always choose a good-quality supplement. I use Pro B11 from Nature’s Sunshine and Lily and Loaf (▷ nutritionnow.myllonline.com). Take two in the morning during the winter.


For advice on nutrition, lifestyle and diabetes, contact Caroline at Bromsgrove Allergy and Nutrition Centre by calling 01527 758385 or email at info@bromsgroveallergy.co.uk or visit â–ˇ www.bromsgroveallergy.co.uk

Signs that you may be low on friendly bacteria (dysbiosis) include looser stools, constipation or IBS. This lack of friendly bacteria explains why some people with bowel disorders may be more prone to illness in the winter. Did you know that babies born prematurely or by caesarean are born with less good bacteria in their intestines? This is because the birth canal is lined with friendly bacteria and is absorbed by the baby during the actual birth. This may explain why children who are born by caesarean may have a slightly compromised immune system, making them more prone to bugs and colds at nursery or school.


Hydration If you seem to get a lot of colds or sinus congestion in the winter, you may be dehydrated. Colds can be a sign that the body needs to clear out toxins; keeping hydrated with filtered or bottled water is a great way to make sure that toxins in our system are flushed out. Aim to drink five or six mugs or glasses a day in between meals. Drinking teas and coffees does not count as both of them are diuretics and can actually cause you to become more dehydrated. Add a slice of lemon to some hot filtered water for a bit of taste. Or try a light herbal tea. Often runny noses can be

a sign the body is low on fluids and creating its own moisture is a way of keeping the sinuses healthy. So go easy on alcohol due to its dehydrating effects.

Exercise Keeping active has so many benefits especially as we get older. It strengthens bones and aids circulation. Having good circulation will keep our blood flowing better and make us less at risk of getting ill. Walking daily, even for 20 minutes, will help us to keep the toxins moving.

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Limit sugar Did you know that sugar actually fights with vitamin C and eating too much can cause the body to become depleted? So, if you’re prone to colds at Christmas, watch out for too many mince pies.

Vitamin C Having a good diet with plenty of vitamin C foods will, of course, balance out the festive treats, which is probably why sprouts are supposed to be so good for us as they are full of the stuff. Vitamin C is vital as it increases our immune response by helping to increase the production of white blood cells and antibodies, as well as strengthening cell membranes to make it more difficult for viruses to spread throughout the body and enter the cells. So, when we are told we need to eat our five-a-day to stay healthy, this is one of the reasons. Higher amounts of vitamin C are usually found in the brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, so eat plenty of strawberries, blueberries and tangerines, as well as dark-green vegetables, such as broccoli and coloured peppers. Eating two kiwi fruit, for example, gives us around 160mg of vitamin C, which is four times the daily recommended dose. An average adult should aim for about 40mg per day, but can take up to 500mg to stave off a cold. A total of 10 strawberries will give us 100mg of vitamin C.

Vitamin D A lot of people are deficient in vitamin D in the UK and there’s evidence that boosting it can help resistance to

infection. With the shorter days and the tendency to spend more time indoors during cold winter days, we can all be at risk of not getting enough vitamin D. Ideally, it is recommended that we are out in the daylight or sun (when it’s out) for at least 20 minutes a day. However, most people don’t get the chance if they are a shift worker or work indoors in an office. Research shows in order to activate an immune response, vitamin D must kick-start T cells in our body, which can attack and neutralise any threat. Many cereals are fortified with vitamin D now to help children get their daily dose. Other foods rich in vitamin D include oily fish such as herring, salmon, sardines and mackerel. For those who don’t enjoy fish, you should take a good-quality fish oil supplement; eggs are also another rich source of vitamin D. With my clients, I use a Nature’s Sunshine Super omega 3, available to order at ▷ nutritionnow.



Add lysine into your diet Lysine is an essential amino acid that works to boost the immune system and helps stimulate the body’s own antibodies to fight illness. It’s found in plain yoghurt and skimmed milk, apricots, dried apples and mangos, and fish.

Eat more zinc foods Zinc is one of the most important minerals for maintaining a healthy

immune system as it feeds the thymus, which controls the entire immune system. I recommend zinc to all my clients who have a compromised immune system, or those with a dry skin condition like eczema. I use a liquid zinc taken in water as I find it is more absorbable and ideal for babies and children who may have a restricted diet, or who are fussy eaters. It’s also ideal for anyone with bowel problems, who may not be absorbing food well. However, zinc is readily available in a normal healthy diet and is found in porridge, brown rice, wholemeal bread and dark green vegetables, such as kale and savoy cabbage. It can also be found in almonds and cashew nuts, so eat a handful with some fresh fruit to get your vitamin C and zinc together.

Stay cool We all worry about staying warm during the cold season, but as germs and viruses can breed more quickly in warm temperatures, it is a good idea to keep a window slightly ajar. It’s a myth that cold weather causes a cold, so keeping fresh air circulating will help create a healthier sleeping environment. So next time you worry about catching someone’s cold or one of the viruses going around in the winter, remember you can arm yourself against them by eating healthier and including some of the immune boosting foods in your daily diet. ›



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your washing, bin storage areas or even where to wash the dog.

Martyn Wilson offers advice on using a garden designer

Before commencing a design, they will survey and analyse your garden to understand which way it is orientated, which area gets the most sunlight or shade, what is the PH of the soil and whether there are any noise or privacy concerns. Your garden designer will help avoid these issues by looking at the bigger picture.

DESIGNING your garden


What does a garden designer do? With winter soon emerging into spring, it’s a good time to consider your own garden and look ahead to your plans for the future. This is, in essence, the role of a garden designer. Not to look into a crystal ball, but to work with a range of clients – including private property owners, businesses or charities – to help realise their vision or ambitions for their gardens or outdoor spaces.

gardens. But we prefer to turn our hand to anything and to be led by the client brief and garden itself.

Why use a garden designer? Designing a garden can be timeconsuming and many people, with their busy lives, do not have the time or inclination to design their own gardens.

It is easy for homeowners to fall into the trap of undertaking small, incremental changes to outdoor spaces, or making purchases over a period of time, causing them to lose a sense of cohesion or even leading to plants dying, only for them to need to start all over again or spend even more money.

If you were looking to remodel or extend your home, you would commission an architect to use their professional skills to consider the many factors and steer you through the process. It is therefore worthwhile commissioning a professional garden designer to help you create the garden of your dreams. A space through which you will be approaching your house, or looking out onto every day for years to come, is an important consideration.

The job of a garden designer is to consider a range of aspects from the beginning to end of a project. A garden designer will take into account your design brief, timescale and budget, and help you to avoid costly mistakes. Some garden designers may have a signature style or focus on a specific theme, such as pollinator-friendly gardens, while others specialise in particular areas, such as planting design or contemporary

As with an architect, painter or sculptor, garden designers are creative, with the skills to transform a site, no matter how big or small. A garden designer will bring expansive knowledge from a diverse range of subjects and considerations, from hard landscaping, soft landscaping, plants and water features, to garden furniture, lighting and natural swimming pools, as well as the normal everyday considerations, such as where to hang

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But a garden designer is not a gardener, builder or landscaper. These individual trades or specialists all bring their own practical skills, expertise and experience to a project. But this is not to do these trades a disservice in any way; garden designers often work closely with all of these businesses and more to create a garden. However, these specialists will not be trained in spatial design, hand or computer-aided drawing or planting design. Designers have the skills and training to produce presentation and planting plans, as well as technical documentation, including construction drawings, and they work with specialist elements including water features and lighting schemes, while also advising you on budgets and contractors, and managing the whole project from concept to completion, should you wish. It is important, when commissioning a designer, to understand their training experience and see examples of their previous work or portfolio, or to read


Martyn is aWorcester-based Worcestershire-based award-winning professional garden designer in their field, you can find out VictoriaWilson heads up Decorum, which experienced professionals is accredited creating spaces andand regulated landscapes by the forSociety domestic of British and commercial more clients. information about Victoria and the company at & International Designers (SBID). Acknowledged as information. ▷ www.decoruminteriordesign.com. See ▷ www.wilsongardendesign.co.uk for further

client reviews. You should also expect a designer to have full professional indemnity and public liability insurance to give you peace of mind.

Putting it into practice Most garden designers tend to take a similar approach to each project and we’re no different: • After an initial approach from a client, we will ask for a few details and request that you complete a client brief. This helps to provide us with some initial information, but also acts as a prompt for you to consider your wants and needs. • Following this we will visit to discuss your brief and, importantly, to view the garden. • A written quotation is provided for the design work and a brief is agreed by both parties. • A site survey is undertaken (by the designer or a chartered surveyor where required). • The creative processes starts with the production of concept plans and 3D visuals. • Once the concept or idea has been approved, then a scale master plan is created. • Following this, detailed scale construction drawings and planting plans, essential to realising the garden on the ground, are drawn up. Other garden services that might follow include: • Project administration during the build. Dealing with contractors and project managing may be an element a client may not have the time for or wish to deal with. • The production of tender documents if multiple quotes for works are needed, by commissioning the designer to assist with the appointment of appropriate contractors to complete the work at a fair price, as well as act on your behalf in any discussions. I have a list of preferred, trustworthy contractors – members of professional trade bodies – with whom we work. • Aftercare services, such as maintenance schedules and management plans.


How much does a designer cost? Research in 2019 undertaken by Zoopla, revealed that the nation’s love of gardens is as keen as ever, with 50 per cent of Britons believing a well-designed garden is as important or more important than a well-designed bathroom or kitchen. The poll also found that the desire for good design is not exclusively limited to interiors, with nearly half of respondents having been put off buying or renting a property because of the condition of the garden. As well as the pleasure a garden can give, it can also be a rewarding financial investment. It is commonly accepted that a harmonious and thoughtful garden adds between five and 15 per cent to the value of your property and even more after some years. So setting a budget, which is equal to or below 5–10 per cent of the value of your home is then

a sensible starting point for the garden budget and it is important for both parties to understand the budget at the start of a project. This might seem a lot, but consider what you might spend on a quality kitchen or bathroom, and how much this adds to the value of your home and quality of life. A designer can work with you to find more cost-effective solutions, as long as there is flexibility on both sides. I often work with clients to phase a project over a long period to spread the cost and make it more manageable.

What you pay for a designer, however, depends on how much work your designer does for you. I will often agree a one-off fee for the design package and often our clients ask us to take on the whole project from start to finish; and our fee is based upon a percentage of the total project cost. A design-only service could cost under £1,000, while a full design and build project, for a very large garden, could cost upwards of £10,000. Fees are based on the merits of each individual project and there simply is no average figure. A very low or non-existent garden-design fee doesn’t mean value for money!

As with commissioning any other project, these details should be agreed on at the very beginning, so that you both know where you stand. Good designers are professionals and should provide you with the appropriate written quotation, along with terms and conditions. So, if you are considering redesigning your garden, or creating an entirely new garden in 2020, then please do get in touch with us. We’ll look forward to working with you to make your garden dreams a reality. ›

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Climate, food production and waste Worcestershire and Gloucestershire farmers are feeling a little under siege, reeling from continual attacks on the British livestock sector. Oliver Cartwright with the National Farmers’ Union looks at the issue


t the end of last year, readers may have seen the BBC’s programme Meat: A Threat to Our Planet?, which aimed to raise awareness of the environmental issues associated with global food production. However, upon airing, it was nothing short of primetime sabotage of the UK livestock industry.

showing UK production was looking at a smallholding, which was hardly representative of the industry. The NFU is looking at every way to right this massive wrong.

In my last magazine article, I spoke about not comparing livestock farming in the Malvern Hills to beef feed lots in the Texas Pan Handle, yet one look at the BBC’s programme and you would have thought that meat in the UK is produced in the same way as in America and South America. Let’s be clear, they could not be further apart.

Worcestershire and Gloucestershire farmers’ farm-to-fork approach delivers not only some of the most robust levels of food safety and traceability in the world, but also animal welfare and environmental standards that we believe should serve as a model for food production globally.

In our counties, we have a fantastic climate for growing grass for feeding our livestock and we lead the world on welfare and responsible antibiotic use. Not to mention that we have one of the shortest, safest supply chains in the world. There was no balance in the BBC documentary and the closest it got to

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There are positives, though, and the documentary was a great advert for the merits of buying British food and drink, particularly meat.

It gives shoppers a level of trust and pride in British food that is not replicated in other food systems. Grass-fed British ruminant animals are the very definition of sustainable farming as they perform the miracle of turning cellulose (grass), which humans can’t eat, into high quality, tasty, nutrient-dense meat. I think the documentary reinforced the message that we should not be doing trade deals with

countries that have lower environmental or food production standards than us. Hopefully people will really question the provenance of the food they eat when they are out shopping, safe in the knowledge that they can choose food from UK farming systems, knowing they are more sustainable. Elsewhere, during the winter, a lot of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire was underwater, another reason for some of the intense pressure on the industry at the end of 2019 and into 2020. We have absolute sympathy for those whose homes and businesses were flooded following the autumn and winter downpours; it really was relentless. From a farming point of view, the NFU is doing its utmost to ensure there are immediate and long-term solutions to help the industry. I think it’s fair to say that extreme weather is with us now and very much a part of the ‘unprecedented global emergency’ we all face. There will always be mixed opinion, though, about what we should actually


Oliver is the NFU’s West Midlands communications adviser and Regional Editor for British Farmer & Grower magazine. ▷ www.nfuonline.com

Image: Pippa Sanderson

Left: Grass-fed British ruminants are the very definition of sustainable farming.

do about it, although I suspect that, nowadays, global warming deniers are more of a rare breed given the volumes of peer-reviewed data and research making the case for a change in climate. Of course, you will have a view about people blocking roads and bringing commuter chaos to our towns and cities, and on those gluing themselves to railings, vehicles and buildings. I suppose it has got people talking, but action does need to be responsible and come with a solution. Farmers, as food producers, are committed to soil and plant health, renewable energy, science and innovation, and they are already playing a vital climate role while feeding us. In my last article, I mentioned that UK agriculture is responsible for 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions; this hasn’t changed and farmers, as custodians of the landscape, are doing more and more on a daily basis to drive that figure down. We’re all at the coal-face though (excuse the fossil-fuel reference) and we can all do something more to cut carbon emissions and play a role; it’s just how we go about it.


Above: The NFU estimates that at least two thirds of farmers have been affected by fly-tipping.

One issue where we’re all culpable is on waste, but the area I would like to focus on is fly-tipping. Whether it is rubbish dumped behind a hedge, in a ditch or abandoned in a field gateway, it has a real impact, not just on the landscape but financially as well.


Fly-tipping remains a significant blight on local environments: it is a source of pollution, a potential danger to public health, a hazard to farm animals and wildlife, and it also undermines legitimate waste businesses. The latest fly-tipping statistics show that for the year 2018/19, local authorities in England dealt with just over a million incidents, an increase of 8 per cent from the 998,000 incidents reported in 2017/18. The problem is that local authority statistics do not include the majority of fly-tipping incidents on farm and private land. The NFU estimates that at least two thirds of farmers have been affected by fly-tipping and the clear-up could cost the industry nearly £50 million a year. I now hope that the launch of a new national waste unit will help in the fight against the scourge of fly-tipping and we also need tougher penalties for those who carry out this type of environmental crime. What is not widely known is that 95 per cent of fines for fly-tipping are lower than the cost of actually hiring a skip. What we need are punitive, exemplary fines to ensure the people who are flytipping don’t see fines as an irrelevance. We are pleased that the Environment Agency has set up the Joint Unit on Waste Crime, involving the police and HMRC, but it’s imperative that farmers and landowners are involved at every stage as they are the ones at the sharp end. Farmers can also play a part and record incidents with NFU CallFirst, so evidence can be gathered to help make the case and identify fly-tipping hot spot areas. We also have the Love Your Countryside campaign on ▷ www.nfuonline. com to raise awareness of the issue to homeowners; I’d urge you to take a look. In the meantime, let’s all do our bit to take more ownership when getting rid of our waste; it’s something we could have an impact on right here, right now. ›

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The return of the rare pine marten Once a familiar feature in the woodlands of England, the pine marten stood on the brink of extinction . . . until now . . . following the successful release of 18 pine martens into the Forest of Dean. Dr Catherine McNicol, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Project Manager, tells us more

From the same family as otters and weasels, pine martens were once common among British wildlife. Similar in size to a domestic cat, with slim bodies, brown fur and a distinctive cream ‘bib’ on their throats, they have long, bushy tails and prominent rounded ears. Extensive hunting, however, together with the loss of the woodlands pine martens once called home, resulted in near extinction in England. Historically, they were pushed to the more remote parts of the UK, becoming Britain’s second-rarest native carnivore. Eventually, their only remaining stronghold was in the northwest Highlands of Scotland, but now things are looking up for the pine marten. As native omnivores, pine martens play a vital role in the delicate balance of woodland ecosystems. Living at low densities in the landscape, they forage on fruit, fungi and a range of prey, including the grey squirrel, a non-native species which is having a detrimental impact on broadleaf woodland throughout England.

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The 2020 Biodiversity Strategy for England identified the need to recover threatened species and habitats across the country. Similarly in 2018, the government’s 25-year Environment Plan stated that the reintroduction of native species like otters and polecats was key to nature’s recovery. Vincent Wildlife Trust, a national conservation charity that focuses on British and Irish mammals, has for the past 20 years highlighted the decline of pine martens in England and Wales. In a bid to safeguard the future of this charismatic creature, the organisation was able to move 51 pine martens from Scotland to


Image: Terry Whittaker/2020 VISION


loucestershire Wildlife Trust, together with Forestry England, Vincent Wildlife Trust and Forest Research have reached a major milestone in a project to bring the pine marten back home, and successfully establish a source population to support the recovery of pine martens in England.


Victoria heads up Worcester-based Decorum, which is accredited and regulated by the Society of British & International Designers (SBID). Acknowledged as FURTHER INFORMATION

experienced professionals in their field, you can find out more information about Victoria and the company at ▷ www.decoruminteriordesign.com.

Further information on the project can be found at ▷ www.

gloucestershirewildlifetrust. co.uk

During this time, the Forest of Dean was identified as another potential location to reintroduce the pine marten. Between August and September 2019, 18 pine martens were moved from Scotland to Gloucestershire, fitted with tracking collars and released into the forest. They are elusive and shy animals, with their presence often only indicated by scats in the middle of forestry tracks.


Image: Terry Whittaker/2020 VISION

Wales between 2015–17, where they now have an established population.

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They only give birth to a few kits each year if breeding is even successful, so the rate of marten population recovery in the UK is low. It is hoped that their protection, alongside these reintroductions, will give them the boost they need to become resilient and thrive. Over the next two years, more pine martens will be released into the forest. This population will then spread and link up with the recently reintroduced Welsh pine martens, creating a new stronghold for the species and ensuring its survival. The future looks bright for this species as they are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). ›

BACKGROUND Pine martens were once common throughout the UK and Ireland, but have undergone an extensive decline over the past two centuries due to habitat loss, hunting and extensive predator control. Over two decades of research by Vincent Wildlife Trust has highlighted the rarity of pine martens in England and Wales, and the risk of species extinction. The pine marten is not only a charismatic and attractive part of British fauna but, as a woodland predator, it also plays an important role in the natural dynamics of woodland ecosystems. Recovery of the pine marten throughout the UK has been an area of focus for statutory and nongovernmental organisations, with an aim to expand the range extent of what was a sparse and fragmented population, through translocations and population reinforcements.

Pine martens in Gloucestershire

Image: Terry Whittaker/2020 VISION

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust aims to connect and improve Gloucestershire’s wildlife and wild places. The pine marten is a species which encompasses these goals, through the restoration of a species once found here, improvement of connected habitat to support its recovery and spread, and through engaging with the public to help it monitor and better understand this elusive and charismatic animal.

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It aims to restore ecosystems, which include prey and their predators. It recognises that the introduction of a medium-sized carnivore may be a cause for concern to some members of the public. Potential impacts on existing wildlife and livestock were investigated during the feasibly study and, based on existing research, the likelihood of such impacts was deemed to be very low.


Diglis Basin Marina Worcestershire Diglis Basin is situated in the beautiful city of Worcester. In central England, at the heart of one of the most beautiful parts of the country surrounded by glorious landscapes and charming, historic towns and villages, the city has a rich history of culture, architecture and events of international importance. The compact city centre is ideal for strolling, sightseeing and shopping. There is a great mixture of ancient buildings, modern shopping, street cafés and riverside walks guaranteed to reward you with a relaxing and entertaining visit. Diglis Basin Marina Diglis Road Worcester Worcestershire WR5 3BW

Facilities • Toilets and Elsan disposal available on site. New facilities block that includes showers and disabled facilities. • A full brokerage service is available from Diglis Basin Marina with Boatshed.com • There is a small independent chandlery operating on site. • Moorings available are: Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3 • The Anchor Pub is situated next to the Outer Basin. There are many other great pubs and restaurants in Worcester.

Call now 01905 356314

bwml.co.uk/diglis-basin-marina bwml.co.uk/diglis-basin-marina

The Marina office is open on the following days: Tuesdays: 9.00am–12.00pm, Thursdays: 9.00am–3.00pm, Saturdays: 9.00am–12.00pm (Please note the office is not always manned during these times) When closed, please contact Sawley Marina on 0115 9077400 between 9.00am–12.30pm and 1.00pm–5.00pm.

TYHA Gold Anchor Award Scheme




CYBER If you and your friend are being chased by a hungry bear, you do not need to run faster than the bear; you only need to run faster than your friend. An old joke but very relevant to the current state of cybersecurity today. Dr Emma Philpott MBE explains how her company, the IASME Consortium, has won a UK government contract that streamlines the process of keeping businesses cyber safe 36 |


he vast majority of organisations in the UK have very low levels of cybersecurity. This means that cyber criminals do not need to be very clever or put in much effort to steal a large amount of money and personal information. To continue the analogy, if the cyber criminal is a hungry bear, the majority of organisations are still just ambling along. To protect your organisation from the most common Internet attack, you only need to set a few key basic controls and you will make your company much less likely to be breached. When we say ‘basic controls’, we mean things like having non-obvious


Dr Emma Philpott MBE is the CEO and founder of the UK Cyber Security Forum and CEO of IASME, and is one of the 50 most influential women in cybersecurity

passwords that are more than eight characters long (try using three random words), not using the same password for multiple applications or websites (try using a free password manager, such as LastPass, to help remember passwords for you), keeping software up-to-date (set it to update automatically) and have antivirus installed on you computers (even a free version is better than nothing). Most of these can be put in place free of charge by just spending a bit of time getting the settings right.


(SC magazine UK). For further information, visit ▷ www.ukcybersecurityforum.com and www.iasme.co.uk

To protect your organisation from the most common Internet attack, you only need to set a few key basic controls.

If IT and computer technology does not come easily to you, then it might be worth spending a bit of money getting advice on putting these controls in place. It won’t take long and you will be able to sleep more easily at night. The most important controls a company needs to have in place have been identified by the government as the ‘Cyber Essentials’, which are encapsulated in an assessment and certification. This certification is now required by the government for many of its subcontractors and also by an increasingly large number of other organisations, such as the Charities Commission. If you want to make sure your company’s suppliers, doctor’s surgery or children’s school have the basics

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in place to protect against theft of data (which could include you and your family’s data) or money, you could ask them if they have Cyber Essentials too. All these types of organisations are starting to get this certification but sometimes it needs the customer to ask a few times first. The certification costs £300.00 and is a declaration that at least the basic controls are in place. The Cyber Essentials scheme has been running for five years now and, until recently, it was delivered by five different accreditation bodies. Unfortunately, although the Cyber Essentials scheme itself is owned by the government, five different interpretations emerged and made things confusing for everyone. So, the government put out a tender to find one commercial partner with which to work on developing the Cyber Essentials scheme instead of using the five accreditation bodies.

IASME has been involved in the Cyber Essentials scheme since the beginning and has always focused on making the scheme work for the smallest of organisations. IASME currently has 45 per cent of the Cyber Essentials market and almost three quarters of all certifications issued have been to micro or small organisations. IASME already licenses the assessment process to 175 companies across the UK and many of those are micro companies, or sole traders, who also happen to be cybersecurity experts. By linking these experts up into a national network, IASME

FURTHER INFORMATION For more information, visit

▷ www.cyberessentials.ncsc. gov.uk and ▷ www.iasme.co.uk

wants to ensure there are trusted and affordable experts in every region to advise local small businesses, schools and charities. IASME displays the location of all these experts on a map to make it easy to find the people in your region, who can give good honest advice on the security of IT systems and, if needed, help businesses through the process of Cyber Essentials certification. All the assessment questions can be downloaded for free from the IASME website and visitors are encouraged to read through them as a minimum to get an understanding of things they could do to improve their security. Some aspects are easy and quick to put in place now. Every single thing you do to improve your security helps you run that bit faster than the majority of other organisations in the UK and, thereby, become less likely to be caught by a cyber criminal. ›

The IASME Consortium, a small company based in Malvern in Worcestershire, won the tender and will be the sole Cyber Essentials Partner from April 2020.



Xytron Data Recovery UK


n operation for 14 years, Xytron has recovered data from a vast array of situations. Managing Director Richard Cuthbertson recalls one of the more memorable cases: ‘In 2006, a Norwegian client contacted us in a state of considerable panic, having dropped a hard disk into the sea. Upon receipt of the drive, we were able to completely recover all of the client’s data.’ Richard adds: ‘After thousands of cases, we really have seen it all, but dud Internet information doesn’t help so, to put the record straight, if you have a hard drive malfunction, please note the following and call us straight away’: • •

• • •

Don’t put your hard drive in a freezer: This will destroy the hard drive and eliminate any chance of a possible recovery. Don’t open your hard drive and don’t let anyone else, unless they’re a specialist lab: Opening a hard drive in any environment, other than a laboratory clean room is likely to jeopardise the recovery effort and will almost always add to the cost. Never change the circuit board: Hard drives contain unique codes, and with some drives – Hitachi, for example – using a substitute circuit board can result in total and irretrievable data loss. If your hard drive is clicking: It usually indicates a mechanical failure requiring the drive to be rebuilt in a specialist laboratory. If your hard drive spins but does not boot or operate the computer: This is usually a firmware issue.

Xytron’s lab data specialists recover files from all types of storage device failures; from dropped or bumped external hard drives, to virus or malware damage. Routine data recovery includes hard disks and RAID systems, mobile phones and tablets. The company’s strict Confidentiality and 256 AES Security policy provides clients with the peace of mind that their recovered data is in safe, secure and competent hands. Their services have been employed by many of the UK’s leading organisations, companies and celebrities to recover accounts, videos, photos and all manner of documents.


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Winter 2018

‘Excellent service,’ says WR magazine publisher Peter Smith. ‘We’ve used it; so have the BBC, DHL, Oxford University, Malvern College and many others. Have a look at its impressive client list’.

▷ www.xytrondatarecovery.co.uk/clients

Tel: 0800 881 8900 Tel: International +44 (1432) 273469 enquiries@xytrondatarecovery.co.uk www.xytrondatarecovery.co.uk Xytron Data Recovery UK, Xytron House, Twyford Road, Rotherwas Industrial Estate, Hereford HR2 6JR

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Imber village: Population zero The village of Imber is located in an isolated area of Salisbury Plain. Located six miles east of Warminster, the settlement was mentioned in 967 during Saxon times and it was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book with a population of some 50 souls. However, it is probably most well known as a ghost village, the result of wartime eviction. Its inhabitants were never allowed to return and, today, it remains off-limits to the public except for a few days each year WORDS AND PHOTOS: PIPPA SANDERSON


he chalk plateau of Salisbury Plain, encompassing an area of some 300 square miles, is famous for its plentiful archaeology and Neolithic treasures, including Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill. This sparsely populated region of Britain has also had a longstanding connection with the military and has been used as a training area since the end of the nineteenth century. Large tracts of the plain were bought by the War Office Salisbury Plain Committee (WOSP), which was founded in 1897 and, by 1902, some 40,000 acres had been acquired. Slap bang in the

middle of this military training area lies the village of Imber.

Early years The village church, St Giles, was built in 1280, believed to be on the site of a much older, Norman, church. By the fourteenth century, Imber’s population was 250 and this remained constant for the next 500 years. By the time of the 1851 census, the population had peaked at 440 but, in the 1931 census, it had declined to 152, the small farming settlement unable to support the needs of its inhabitants.

family, who lived there until the eighteenth century, when it became an academy for young gentlemen.

The world wars At this time, Salisbury Plain developed into one of the country’s most important and intensive areas for infantry and artillery training, and it wasn’t long

An elegant (haunted) manor house – Imber Court – was constructed in the seventeenth century by the Wadman before numerous canvas bell tents, to accommodate soldiers, began to be seen dotted up and down the plain. In the village of Imber itself, some 40 soldiers and six batmen were billeted for a short time in the attic at Imber Court, while a major and five other officers were housed in more agreeable surroundings. At the end of the war in 1918, the village returned once again to a relatively peaceful existence. In 1920, Imber Court was sold to the Holloway family, who undertook improvements. Unfortunately, during the work, the house caught fire (a workman’s torch was believed to have

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A closer look at some things worth looking at.

WHAT3WORDS ///: slides.improvise.villas

FURTHER INFORMATION Having been managed by the War Office, responsibility for the preservation of the Grade I-listed church now lies with The Churches Conservation Trust. For the complete history of Imber, see Imber on the Down by Rex Sawyer at ▷ www. hobnobpress.co.uk. For more information and dates when Imber will be open this year, visit ▷ www. imbervillage.co.uk, ▷ www.

imberchurch.org.uk/events.html and ▷ www.visitchurches.org.uk Previous page top: On the road to Imber. Previous page left: St Giles’ Church, which boasts medieval wall paintings and stone carvings. Previous page right: A concrete tower guards the entrance to Imber Court. Top: Imber Court. Middle left: Nag’s Head cottages. Once an inn, it was turned into two cottages prior to the villagers’ eviction. Bottom left: Seagram’s Farm, which was extended in 1880, according to the date stone on its gable. Top right: Mock-up houses used for house-tohouse combat training exercises. Bottom right: The Council Houses, built in 1938.

been responsible) and it was almost razed to the ground. It was, however, rebuilt and boasted 11 bedrooms and a library. A modern generator was also installed, a luxury indeed as mains electricity never made it to Imber. The once-elegant manor house still stands, although in much reduced circumstances. The army removed its top floor and all the glass was replaced with steel shutters, although the dressed stone still remains as a poignant reminder of its former grandeur. As the situation in Europe began to destabilise once more, it became


crucial to reinstate Salisbury Plain for military training and preparation and, as modern warfare had evolved from horse to horsepower, so did the need to acquire more land to accommodate this new mode of combat. The military continued to buy up land in and around Imber, which was then leased back to the inhabitants to farm and, by 1932, the War Department owned the entire village and surrounding farmland, bar the Bell Inn, school room, vicarage and church. In 1938, several of Imber’s old mud-walled cottages were demolished and replaced with council houses which, although boasting hot and cold running water, were greeted with little enthusiasm. With the onset of World War II, military activity increased on Salisbury Plain and training with live ammunition made the lives of Imber’s residents somewhat

precarious. However, despite this, prisoners of war arrived and were tasked with helping to bring in the harvest and several evacuees were sent to the village for a short period of time. Perhaps not surprising for an area so dense in military activity, Salisbury Plain and the village were bombed numerous times in the early years of the war. But a spectacular own goal in April 1942 saw one of the war’s worst training disasters occur in the skies above Imber, reinforcing thoughts that the village’s inhabitants would have to be evicted for their own safety. A dress rehearsal for a tactical air demonstration, attended by mostly military personnel, which the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, attended a few days later, saw the crowd being strafed. A total of 25 servicemen were killed and more than 70 were injured.

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Time to leave On 1 November 1943, representatives from the War Office called Imber’s 135 or so townsfolk to a meeting in the schoolroom, during which they were given 47 days’ notice to vacate their homes so that US forces could use the village to train for street fighting in preparation for D-Day. With the promise of being allowed to return home at the conclusion of the war, most were upset but, reluctantly, found alternative accommodation, seeing the move as a patriotic effort and doing their bit to help the war effort. However, a few days after the shocking news had been delivered, local and much respected blacksmith, Albert Nash, who was descended from Imber shepherds and had plied his trade in the village for more than 40 years, was found in his forge by his wife, slumped over his anvil and weeping like an infant. He died the following year, the doctor allegedly writing on the death certificate that he ‘died of a broken heart’. Nash returned to Imber for burial at the church.

After the war


At the conclusion of World War II, the villagers received the distressing news that they would not be allowed to return to Imber as it was vital for modern forms of military training and, thus, was required permanently. The plight of the displaced villagers soon gained public attention and indignation grew. Questions were raised in Parliament. Permission was occasionally granted for villagers to return to visit the church or loved ones’ graves and, in 1960, there was potentially encouraging news that the villagers may, at last, return home and rebuild their lives, only for their hopes to be dashed once more. The end of 1960 also marked the cessation of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA), emergency legislation that had been introduced at the start of World War II so that the war could be prosecuted effectively. As such, the War Office now needed new powers to control access through the training area, and wished to terminate the rights of

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be a huge success, with more than 2,000 people (some 200 of them from, or with, Imber connections) travelling in vehicles and on foot making their way to the village and not a policeman or soldier in sight. It was a well-organised event; a portrayal of Middle England. Speeches were made, an Association for the Restoration of Imber (ARI) was established and a public enquiry was demanded. Future ‘Forever Imber’ events were planned and another rally, held at the end of February, was just as well attended as the first, although not as long because of torrential rain. In March, the question of when Imber would be returned to its villagers was raised in Parliament; Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, was emphatic in his reply that this was impossible. Despite this, more rallies were proposed but the War Office opposed the move, subsequently applying successfully to the High Court for an injunction to stop the ARI or members of the public accessing the Imber Range training area. In October 1961, a two-day public enquiry saw both parties argue their case with gusto. When the final decision was made by the Minister of Transport in January 1962, it was perhaps not surprising: denial of access to the training area would stand although the roads in and around Imber would be open to the public on a maximum of 50 days a year.

way along all highways and footpaths through it, including to Imber village. This was greeted with much opposition and protest from Wiltshire people and a rally was organised by Austin Underwood, a councillor with Wiltshire County Council, who held a deep passion for Imber and of social justice generally. A long procession to the village took place in January 1961, which proved to

As the years went by, dilapidated cottages collapsed and, by 1976, only 27 buildings stood in Imber, 13 of which had been constructed by the Ministry of Defence; brick shells mocked up to look like a village for use in urban warfare training; this time to meet the threat posed by the Provisional IRA. Today, the church is only open to the public on certain days of the year, dates of which are decided by the Ministry of Defence, but they often include the Saturday closest to that of St Giles’ Day – 1 September – along with certain bank holidays and a few days over Christmas. ›





rom medieval times when it was a major English stronghold against repeated Welsh attack to its current role as the county town of Herefordshire and a major centre of agricultural trade, Hereford has a proud and distinctive identity. This extraordinary history is embodied in the buildings that have shaped this cathedral city.

Top: Roof timbers in the Booth Hall. Above: Part of the courtyard at Coningsby Hospital in the early twentieth century, complete with policeman and water trough. Middle: The Old Wye Bridge with the cathedral in the background. Bottom: An eighteenth-century engraving of the Wye Bridge and cathedral.


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Hereford in 50 buildings explores the history of the city in a selection of its greatest architectural treasures, from the magnificent twelfth-century cathedral to the Edgar Street Grid, a massive city centre regeneration project that is only partly completed. Local historian Ron Shoesmith and photographer Derek Foxton showcase Hereford’s architectural heritage in a new and accessible way as they guide the reader around the city’s historic and modern buildings. ›

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Below: An early photograph of Barr’s Court railway station. Bottom left: Aerial view of Hereford Cathedral from the north-west. Bottom right: A view of the County Gaol just before its demolition in 1930. Next page top: The Old House in High Town. Next page bottom: The library and museum in Broad Street was opened in 1874.


Bibliographic information Authors: Derek Foxton and Ron Shoesmith Publication: September 2019 Price: £14.99 ISBN: 978 1 4456870 4 9 Binding: Paperback Extent: 96 pages Illustrations: 120 illustrations See Amberley Publishing at

▷ www.amberley-books.com for more.

The authors Derek Foxton has lived in Hereford all his life and practiced as a dentist there until his retirement 13 years ago. For many years he also worked as a commercial photographer, having gained experience working part time as a freelance photographer for the London Evening Standard during his student years. Many of the shots in the book are his own. This is Derek’s 10th book, with previous works including Hereford at the End of World War II and Hereford Through Time. Ron Shoesmith is a Founder Member of the Charted Institute for Archaeologists and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He was the Director of the City of Hereford Archaeology Unit between 1974 and 1996 and also served as Cathedral Archaeologist for a similar period.


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BOOKS Dreaming spires, Oxford



xfordshire, lying in the heart of England, is justly famous for its historic university, but the county also boasts many beautiful natural features and a fascinating historic legacy. The landscape ranges from the Chiltern and Cotswold Hills, the Wessex Downs and the Vale of the White Horse to the River Thames and its tributaries. Historic towns and buildings include Oxford, Blenheim Palace, Chipping Norton and Burford, and much more. Photographer Andy Prior has captured Oxfordshire’s essence in this collection of stunning images, displaying the county at its best. For those who are proud to live in the county, as well as those visiting, this book is a must. Look through these photographs and you will quickly see why this corner of England has such enduring appeal. ›

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Great Hasely Windmill


The Manger, Uffington

Bliss Tweed Mill, Chipping Norton


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Red tractor harvesting


Bibliographic information Author: Andy Prior Publication: August 2019 Price: £17.99 ISBN: 978 1 4456868 0 6 Size: 168 x 246mm Binding: Paperback Extent: 128 pages Illustrations: 126 illustrations See Amberley Publishing at

▷ www.amberley-books.com for more.

The author

Poppy field near Coleshill

Andy Prior is an award-winning landscape photographer based in Oxfordshire. His interest in photography first arose in 2012 and this new-found interest drove him to begin teaching himself this new medium and, over time, an interest in outdoor and landscape photography grew. The challenge of capturing nature at its best and, in some cases, its worst, is what drives him. In all weathers, Andy enjoys exploring the countryside, often visiting the same location on multiple occasions in search of capturing a unique moment in time that is full of atmosphere and inspiration.

Broughton Castle at sunset

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In 2016, Andy enjoyed success by being named Cotswold Landscape Photographer of the Year. Leading camera company, Canon, has also recognised his talent for landscape photography by featuring his work.



Walking Worcestershire


Bibliographic information Author: Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust Publication: July 2019 Price: £15.00 ISBN: 978 0 9558390 0 9 Binding: Paperback



f you have ever thought about a good day’s walk in Worcestershire but didn’t know where to go, how about trying the Geopark Way? As a permanent, long-distance walking trail, it runs for 109 miles, starting in Bridgnorth in the north, heading through Worcestershire, over the Abberley and Malvern Hills, which give the footpath its name, into Herefordshire and ending at Gloucester Cathedral to the south. It is broken down into 17 easy to walk sections, between 4.3 and 8.2 miles long, and there are six sections within the bounds of Worcestershire between Bewdley and the Malverns to try. Now 10

Malvern and May Hill, and each section of the trail gives you a different and compelling collection of spectacular views, beautiful built heritage and fascinating social history. Each is influenced by the intriguing and hidden story beneath your feet as you cross four counties and 700 million years of geological time. Whichever stretch of the pathway you choose, you will undoubtedly learn something new along the way: A healthy and enlightening way to enjoy landscape, heritage, culture and ecology.

To help you enjoy the route, the Geopark Way guidebook accompanies the walkway, offering stories of industries long gone, special views and indications of sites of geological interest. With maps, OS grid references, descriptions, photographs, diagrams and a handy glossary of terms, it will help you understand exactly what you are looking at. There is also a free visitor guide with information on accommodation, travel options, eateries and activities available online. Just click on links for the guidebook or visitor guide at

▷ www.earthheritagetrust.org/ pub/category/the-geopark-way/ the-trail-guide/ and get walking the Geopark Way. ›

years old, the Geopark Way is recognised and mapped by Ordnance Survey. Worcestershire’s local Geopark, which forms the backbone of the Geopark Way, takes in the hills of Abberley, Suckley, Top: Abberley Clock Tower (now part of Abberley Hall School) from Walsgrove Hill. Above: The River Severn at Bewdley. Right: A view of the Malvern Hills looking south to British Camp.


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pen Space provides professional, convenient and hi-tech space for both start-ups and local and national businesses. With our flexible terms and fully inclusive nature, we take the stress and admin out of having your own office space. We deal with all maintenance, utility bills, rates, phone lines and Internet. We also provide 100/100Mb leased-line Internet, which is vital for modern businesses;

especially for those who live rurally and usually suffer from poor connectivity. By taking space with us, businesses can manage their costs and avoid the commitment, risk and hassle of owning their own property, which gives them the flexibility to grow in a professional, well-equipped environment. By having just one bill at the end of the month and everything else dealt with by us, our clients save time, energy and money.

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Open Space Business Centre, Willow End Park, Malvern WR13 6NN ENQUIRIES & INFO: sarah@openspacebc.co.uk, 01886 834814, openspacebusinesscentres.co.uk 50 |


“. . . Open Space allows us to run our business without spending our time on the practicalities of running an office. They manage the administration and associated costs for our energy bills, our Internet and telephone lines, and the flexibility of the letting terms gives us peace of mind and allows us to grow our business without committing to a lengthy rental agreement. . . .” Amanda Woods Frodshams Solicitors



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WHAT3WORDS ///: paper.unless.remote

FURTHER INFORMATION West Berkshire Museum is free to visit, although donations are most welcome as they help to buy new items to display, maintain the historic buildings and conserve the collections. For more information, visit ▷ www.westberkshireheritage.org

West Berkshire Museum is housed in two of Newbury’s best loved historic buildings: the seventeenth century Cloth Hall and the old Granary/Corn Stores in the Wharf. Janine Fox, Curator at the West Berkshire Museum, lifts the lid on a rather large collection that is far more than just buildings



he permanent exhibition tells the story of West Berkshire, from the rocks under our feet to the stories of the people who live in the local area. Our early unnamed ancestors, well known characters like Jack of Newbury and our most recent families; together they have created the towns and villages, roads and canals, fields and farms, industries, pastimes and organisations that we know today. The exhibition looks at historic local events, which have had international resonance, such as the Greenham Common protests, and national events such as the battles of Newbury, which are featured alongside quieter leisure pursuits such as horse racing and theatre going.

West Berkshire Museum is much more than the physical buildings and actually cares for more than 35,000 objects in its collections. These are all documented, researched and stored to preserve them for future generations to enjoy. The collection is too large to be displayed in the museum all at once, so much work takes place off-site where the museum’s amazing team of volunteers undertake the huge job of cataloguing, photography, repacking, condition checking and environmental monitoring. The museum is always looking for more volunteers, so if you have a few hours to spare then please email museum@westberks.gov.uk to find out how you can get involved.

Upstairs, the atmospheric galleries host a series of special exhibitions, along with Gallery 5, which can be hired to display

The exhibitions help to share the collection, but the team are always

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original artwork, sculpture and crafts, so there is always something new to see. The museum also offers room hire of either the learning space, The Long Room, which is available to hire for community groups and clubs, and the historic Cloth Hall, which is ideal for meetings and events.


in 2018, a huge accomplishment as it provides recognition for the museum’s professional role in protecting culture and heritage, and ensuring this is made available to local and visiting communities. Accreditation will also enable the museum to deliver new projects through additional funding bids and receive a wider variety of object loans from other heritage and arts organisations for exhibitions. looking for opportunities to allow them to be experienced, through loans, community projects and school visits. The new ‘Focus On’ series of exhibitions continues to highlight collections from towns and parishes throughout West Berkshire. The next ‘Focus On’ features Stratfield Mortimer, where visitors can


find out about the development of the parish. From Bronze Age barrows to chocolate manufacturing, Mortimer has a fascinating social history. Keep your eyes peeled for an exhibition about your local parish soon! The museum was awarded full accreditation by the Arts Council England

The museum has five special exhibition galleries on the first floor, which hosts regularly changing displays to show off as much of the collection as possible. Our new exhibition ‘Villa’ places the spotlight on our Roman archaeology collections and illustrates what life would have been like in Roman West Berkshire. ›

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HERITAGE Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park is only eight miles from Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. Once a medieval manor, it was transformed into a baroque showpiece after 1711 and then, in the 1760s, remodelled again as a sophisticated neoclassical house. After 1768, the celebrated landscape designer, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, created a radical new parkland designed to exploit the site’s leisure opportunities for its wealthy owners and their friends. Julie Finch, Compton Verney’s Director, offers a fantastic glimpse into the history of this most fascinating property




he first record of a settlement at Compton Verney mentions a late Saxon village, simply called Compton, which means manor or large farm. It had good communications as it was served by the Fosse Way, which ran north– south half a mile from the site and led to the major Roman settlements of Cirencester and Leicester. By the time of the Domesday Book – a survey of land ownership and values carried out from 1086 for the new Norman kings – the village was divided into two manors. The largest manor was originally held by the Norman noble, the Count of Meulan which was, in turn, inherited by the Earls of Warwick. Some time before 1150, the smaller manor was granted to a Robert Murdak and, as a result, its village became known as Compton Murdak. Murdak ownership survived the 1316 murder of Sir Thomas Murdak, who was killed by his wife, Juliana de Gayton, with the help of Sir Thomas’ squire and two chaplains. Thomas’ body was hacked to pieces and left at his Northamptonshire estate. Five years later in 1321, Juliana was burned to death for her crime. In 1370, a later Sir Thomas Murdak was forced to surrender the estate to Edward III’s unscrupulous mistress, Alice Ferrers. On Edward III’s death in 1377, Ferrers was banished from London and later married Sir William de Wyndsore; the estate passed to

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WHAT3WORDS ///: beak.kebab.outright

Wyndsore’s daughter, Joan, and it was Joan and her husband who, in 1435, sold the house and estate to the ruthless and ambitious Richard Verney. He had been acquiring land in the area for a number of years and had secured the financial assistance of both his younger brother, John Verney, Dean of Lichfield; and a local aristocratic patron, the powerful Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. By 1500, the estate had become so closely associated with the family that it began to be known as Compton Verney.

The Tudor house The fifteenth century house was extended following the advantageous marriage of Sir Richard Verney (1563– 1630) to Margaret, daughter of Sir Fulke Greville (later 1st Lord Brooke) and 6th Baroness Willoughby de Broke in her own right. According to Sir William Dugdale’s 1656 The Antiquities of Warwickshire, the Verneys built a manor house there in around 1442. Very little is known about this building, although a drawing by Wenceslaus Hollar in around 1655, published in Dugdale’s history, shows a great hall, a long south wing with gabled dormer windows, and chimneys looking down to the lake. It had octagonal turrets, kitchens to the left and a chapel by the ponds.

The Stuart era Sir Richard Verney not only inherited Margaret Greville’s family estates but also the Greville’s claims to the barony of Willoughby de Broke. It is Richard and his wife Margaret whose fine double tomb by Nicholas Stone –the greatest British sculptor of his age – dominates the chapel at Compton Verney. Sir Richard and Margaret’s only son, Greville Verney


(c.1586–1642), inherited the titles of 7th Baron Willoughby de Broke and 15th Baron Latimer on the death of his mother in 1631.

During and after the Civil War The first surviving inventory of the house, which dates from the beginning of the Civil War in 1642, describes a house of 30 rooms, including a hall, two parlours, 17 bedrooms, an armoury and study, as well as servants’ quarters and outbuildings, all furnished with velvet, tapestry and pictures to a total value of £900. In 1668, Greville Verney’s great grandson, William Verney, 10th Baron Willoughby de Broke, died aged only 15 without an heir and the title went into temporary abeyance. It was subsequently claimed by William’s great-uncle, another Richard Verney (1621–1711) in 1695, and the House of Lords ruled in


Above: The prospect of Compton House by Wenceslaus Hollar, published in William Dugdale’s The Antiquities of Warwickshire in 1656. Left: James Fish’s map of the estate of 1738 shows a house with a close, inner courtyard surrounded by formal French gardens, or parterres.

his favour. On Richard’s death, his son George (1661–1728) became 12th Baron Willoughby de Broke. It was George who resolved to completely rebuild the house and re-landscape the gardens in a formal baroque style.

Images courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Lord Willoughby de Broke.

A map of the site by James Fish of 1738 showed that the house was a square block, with stables to the north and formal gardens to the north and south.

The reshaping of Compton Verney The 12th Baron decided to rebuild the house after 1711. The new design he commissioned – the basis of the house seen today – has been convincingly attributed to the Oxford master-mason, John Townesend, and his son, William, who had worked at Blenheim Palace and at many of the new college buildings being built for Oxford University.

The later eighteenth century In 1752, the title passed to George’s greatnephew, John Peyto Verney (1738–1816), who became 14th Baron. John also inherited the neighbouring estate of Chesterton, thus raising the family’s income to a handsome £4,000 a year. This

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‘Capability’ Brown

additional income, and John’s marriage in 1761 to the sister of local grandee (and future Prime Minister) Lord North, who lived at nearby Wroxton Abbey, encouraged John to improve the estate and remodel the house. It was John Peyto Verney and his family who were portrayed at Compton Verney by the celebrated society painter, Johann Zoffany, in around 1766.

The 12th Baron’s formal gardens were now as outdated as his baroque house – such formal parterres were now eclipsed by the fashionable ‘natural’ garden pioneered by ‘Capability’ Brown and his followers – and the 14th Baron was clearly keen to update his grounds as well as his house.

Robert Adam Soon after his marriage in 1761 to Louisa North, John Peyto Verney commissioned the highly fashionable Scottish neoclassical architect, Robert Adam, to make major alterations to Compton Verney. Adam’s principal patron was the powerful Lord Bute, confidante of young King George III and recently installed by the latter as Prime Minister. Lord North, already an intimate of the royal circle, had doubtless recommended Adam’s talents to his brother-in-law. Adam’s proposed scheme involved demolishing much of the baroque house of 1711; in the event, however, he had to content himself with inserting a new, larger hall and a saloon behind on the ground floor, creating a new attic storey, and adding a portico to the refenestrated east (entrance) front. Inside the new hall, he provided a tessellated marble floor, using native British marbles where possible, and large plaster surrounds to frame Antonio Zucchi’s specially-commissioned neoclassical capricci (imaginary classical landscapes). Sadly, they disappeared from the hall after 1950 and, today, only Adam’s plaster frames remain. Adam’s building work was supervised not by the architect himself (who was probably rarely on site) but by the Warwick architect-mason William Hiorne (c.1712–76), who had already been employed locally at Charlecote House and Stoneleigh Abbey. The sandstone for the house’s walls came both from the estate and also from the surrounding local quarries of Warwick, Hornton, Gloucester and Painswick.

Robert Adam may have introduced Lancelot Brown to the Willoughby de Brokes; alternatively, the 14th Baron could have seen Brown’s recent work for himself at nearly Charlecote and Warwick Castle. Either way, in November 1768, Brown commenced work soon after the reconstruction of the house had been completed by Adam.

A group portrait of John, 14th Baron, and his family in the breakfast room at Compton Verney by Johann Zoffany, c. 1766. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

He replaced the formal gardens with grassland and trees, including cedars and more than 2,200 oak and ash saplings. The nearby road was moved for a ha-ha to be created west of the house, and views from the house to the south and west were opened up. Brown also turned the existing ponds into a single expanse of water by removing the dam between the Upper Pool and the Middle Pool, and built a classical chapel, greenhouse (which no longer survives) and rustic, thatched ice house (which was restored in 2010). He demolished the old church between the house and the lake, and replaced it with a new, plain, Palladian-style chapel located on the slope to the north of the house, which was built between 1776–79. Nicholas Stone’s fine Verney tomb of 1631 and some later memorials were moved to the new chapel, along with a mixture of English heraldic glass (some of which had decorated the old building) and German Renaissance glass panels. The Upper Bridge, with its four sphinxes, has been stylistically attributed to Adam, but the design could equally have been Brown’s, or a construction by Brown to Adam’s design. The existing plans for the Lower Bridge are undated and unsigned, but the 1772 accounts are labelled ‘Mr Brown’s Work’.

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who delighted in new inventions. In his earlier years, he had been a keen soldier, who revived the third troop of the Warwickshire Yeomanry during a lull in the French wars in 1803 and who, in 1814, was promoted to LieutenantColonel. Henry subsequently had a scaled-down frigate built upon the lake at Compton Verney and employed an old seaman to assist him in sailing it.

estates across the country, relied on land rents for the bulk of their income. Between 1875 and 1900, agricultural rents in South Warwickshire fell on average by around 40 per cent; as a result, the Willoughby de Brokes were forced to mortgage their estates after 1872. By 1887, the family felt it had no other option but to move out of the main house and rent it to wealthy tenants.

When Henry’s nephew, Robert John Barnard (1809–62), inherited the title of 17th Baron in 1852, he adopted the surname Verney. Robert was a keen huntsman and rode to hounds regularly. However, he was also notoriously unlucky; having previously been accidentally shot by a friend and, later, kicked in the head by his horse. Then a bad hunting fall condemned him to spend his last years in a Bath chair. He died in his early 50s.

The first of these temporary residents was the banker Sir Ernest Cassel, who lived at Compton Verney for eight years until 1895. He was succeeded by Lord Connemara who, in 1896, was visited by Cassel’s great friend Edward, Prince of Wales (on his way to visit his mistress, the Countess of Warwick). The prince was driving a car for the first time, enraging Lord Willoughby de Broke, who loathed the new fad for automobiles and whose last request to his son was that motor cars should not be used in the Warwickshire Hunt. The baron was consequently delighted when, as the royal car drove up the drive, it broke down and the prince and his female companions had to jump out and push. Those who witnessed the event stated they had never seen Harry Verney so happy.

John Gibson and the 1860s So that his designs could be appreciated during his patrons’ lifetimes, Brown also invented a tree-moving machine to transplant mature specimens. By the time of his death in 1816, John Peyto Verney had presided over the complete transformation of the house and grounds at Compton Verney. John Peyto Verney’s son and heir, also named John Peyto, succeeded to the 15th barony, but did not live on the estate in adulthood. Declared insane in 1788, he was consigned to the care of a clergyman in Somerset, who had been John’s former tutor. John’s sister, Louisa, scandalised the neighbourhood when she actually married the clergyman and the couple settled in the nearby village of Lighthorne.

Victorian Verneys The unfortunate John Peyto had only succeeded to the barony four years earlier before he died in 1820, and the title passed to his son Henry (1773–1852), who became the 16th Baron Willoughby de Broke. Henry was an engaging – though increasingly reclusive – eccentric,


Robert was married to Georgiana, who fitted out her morning room as a women’s library (and, after her husband’s death, became a prominent advocate for women’s education and reading). They produced a son and heir, Henry (1844–1902), who became the 18th Baron in 1862. He made perhaps the most significant Victorian additions to the parkland and house by hiring John Gibson to create new lodges and gates. Gibson was a leading Victorian architect who specialised in the neoclassical style, and is now best known for his work for the National Provincial Bank – most notably his fine hall of 1865 (now known as Gibson Hall) in Bishopsgate, London. Henry also introduced the long majestic crescent of Wellingtonia (also known as Giant Sequoias or Sierra Redwoods) between the Upper Bridge and southeastern gate.

The late Victorian tenants and their visitors The agricultural depression of the 1870s and 1880s – largely caused by a series of bad harvests and cheap imports of corn from the US – had a disastrous impact on the Verneys who, like other landed

Later visitors to Compton Verney included Winston Churchill, whose mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, had accompanied the Prince of Wales in 1896. Lord Willoughby de Broke refused to meet Churchill because of his recent proposals for Irish Home Rule, which


Top left: The interior of the chapel by Country Life magazine in 1913, showing the original stained glass and furniture. Top right: Richard, 19th Baron (1869–1923). Left: Country Life photo of the orangery greenhouse in 1913.

at Compton Verney as a guest of the Willoughby de Brokes.

The Edwardian Era Perhaps the most colourful and active of all the Victorian Verneys was Richard, 19th Baron (1869–1923). Like his ancestors, he was both a keen huntsman and a political conservative. One contemporary described his personality as being ‘not more than two hundred years behind his time’. Richard was a fervent supporter of women’s suffrage and enthusiastically hosted ‘suffragette’ meetings at Compton Verney. In 1912, the family’s fortunes had improved to the extent that they were able to return to Compton Verney and, to mark the 19th Baron’s return, electric lighting was installed in the house, involving the installation of more than five miles of wire.

the baron believed would result in ‘the dismemberment of the United Kingdom’. Between 1900–01, the house’s tenancy was taken over by Marshall Field, the American department-store tycoon, who mainly used it as a base from which to travel to London and the continent. Some 20 years later, his celebrated former lieutenant, H Gordon Selfridge, who had founded the Americanstyle department store Selfridges in London in 1909, dined

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In 1913, Country Life’s photographers came to Compton Verney. Their photographs show many of the house’s original artworks and furniture still in situ.

World War I At the outbreak of war in August 1914, traditional events were cancelled as the men of the estate, including the 19th Baron’s sons, left to fight in France.


Wartime taxation bit deep, servants were conscripted and, as a result, the family were pushed into occupying a single wing of their home. Wounded soldiers were occasionally hosted by Lady Willoughby de Broke, while her husband commanded the 2nd Line (reserve) regiment of the Warwickshire Yeomanry.

Manton’s son, George Watson, the 2nd Baron Manton, who inherited Compton Verney at the age of 23, was uninterested in it, preferring to concentrate on breeding racehorses in Wiltshire. He rode as a jockey and, in 1928, married the heiress to the John Player tobacco fortune.

Post-war economic conditions made the Verneys’ ownership of Compton Verney even more challenging. Income tax had risen from 6 per cent in 1913 to 30 per cent in 1918, while death duties were raised to 40 per cent in 1919. As was the case for so many other aristocratic families, a buyer had to be found for the estate. In 1921, the family moved out of Compton Verney for the last time.

However, he had debts, which soon mounted and, in 1931, he sold the outstanding stained glass in Compton Verney’s chapel at Christie’s auction house, before selling the house itself to wealthy businessman Samuel Lamb. Two years later, the 2nd Baron Manton was sued by his former accountant for unpaid debts, while his wife divorced him in 1935.

The Mantons and the Lambs Compton Verney’s new owner in 1921 was Joseph Watson, a soap manufacturer and racehorse owner who had made a fortune during the 1870s as the Lever Brothers’ biggest rival. After selling his soap-making company to Levers in 1906, he concentrated on agricultural research and, during World War I, helped the government to set up new munitions factories. In 1921, Watson bought Compton Verney from Lord Willoughby de Broke and, in January 1922, obtained a peerage from Lloyd George, becoming Baron Manton of Compton Verney. Two months later, however, he was killed in a tragic hunting accident.


Country Life photographs, clockwise from top left: the morning room, library, dining room and secretary’s room.

Compton Verney’s new owners were Samuel and Gita Lamb. A cotton magnate, he was quiet and unassuming; she, however, was an amateur opera singer from Germany and a self-confessed Nazi who was universally loathed.

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A former housemaid recalls an incident when Mrs Lamb, apparently dissatisfied with a flower arrangement in the saloon, threw the vase and its contents through a closed window. Another servant described her as ‘not a very nice person’ and ‘a most improbable blonde’.

World War II The Lambs moved out of the house during World War II when Compton Verney was requisitioned by the army. From 1940, the park was used as an experimental station for smokescreen camouflage in its new role as an outstation for the Leamington-based Camouflage Unit. Officers were billeted in the house, with NCOs bedding down in the attics and other ranks living in huts in the park. The estate was later used for training by the 1st Squadron of the Belgian (5th) Special Air Service, which was stationed at nearby Friz Hill in 1943. Inevitably, things got broken and damaged. As early as October 1941, an official report concluded that ‘Although Military occupation of the house has only begun recently, there is no doubt of its damaging effect on the walls, doors and interior decoration. Windows of the stable block were smashed and others missing.’ Dirty water leaked into the tessellated floor of the hall and a portion of plaster ceiling above, resulting from a blocked lead gully on the roof, which collapsed in 1944. ‘Kicking and stumbling’ damaged the portico, while

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THE BARON WAS CONSEQUENTLY DELIGHTED WHEN, AS THE ROYAL CAR DROVE UP THE DRIVE, IT BROKE DOWN AND THE PRINCE AND HIS FEMALE COMPANIONS HAD TO JUMP OUT AND PUSH. THOSE WHO WITNESSED THE EVENT STATED THEY HAD NEVER SEEN HARRY VERNEY SO HAPPY. the masonry of the north wing was ‘used for sharpening knives’. The Upper Bridge was wrecked; a gardener reported that soldiers ‘were responsible for deliberately pushing over a section of the balustrading on the west

side’, though an official subsequently noted that ‘it is quite obvious that the stone parapets of this bridge were not in a good state of repair when the property was requisitioned’. By 1945, an estimated 300 tons of redundant barbed wire surrounded the site while numerous smoke bombs still littered the area; one being discovered as recently as 1995.

Post-war decline The Lambs never returned after the soldiers’ departure in 1945. Living at Compton Verney was no longer an attractive prospect: in addition to the damage caused by its wartime occupation, thieves had stripped the roof of lead in 1948 and poor electricity supplies necessitated power cuts on Mondays and Thursdays. Occasional events still took place in the park – the hall was twice used for hunt balls during the 1950s – but the life of the house itself largely ceased. Following the death of his wife, Lamb finally sold Compton Verney in 1958 to Harry Ellard, an eccentric, self-made engineering millionaire who had bought a nightclub in Solihull (now the Regency Hotel), where he lived. Ellard had no intention of occupying the house at Compton Verney and left it to deteriorate. He would visit every Thursday, arriving in an elderly Austin and carrying scraps from the Regency Club nightclub to feed to the pigs he kept there. A groundsman took care of the animals, and also grew


fruit and vegetables in the kitchen garden. When Ellard hosted visitors on the site, he did so in his custom-made caravan, which was permanently located in the park. The 21st Lord Willoughby de Broke recalled his visits to Ellard as ‘deeply depressing’, citing ‘rusting barbed-wire fences, hungry Alsations barking in the stables and evidence of neglect everywhere; crumbling masonry, gaping holes in roofs; even a sapling growing from one of the dormer windows’. Ellard did, though, occasionally rent the estate out to television and film production companies. Peter Hall’s celebrated film of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Judi Dench, Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, David Warner and Ian Richardson, was filmed there in 1968.

Previous page left: The Haslar smoke machine. Previous page right: Military vehicles at the house, 1942. Below: The dilapidated house in the 1950s. Bottom: Compton Verney house and grounds in 1949.

By the time of Ellard’s death in 1983, the house’s ceilings had buckled and collapsed, the walls had rotted and the sky could be glimpsed from the ground floor. Yet, even though the house and chapel were listed as Grade I by English Heritage, the future for both park and mansion looked bleak.

False dawn: the opera scheme Upon Ellard’s death, the estate was bought by property developer Christopher Buxton, who aimed to convert the house to hotel use, build large homes in the Kitchen Garden (which he succeeded in doing), subdivide the stable block into 10 apartments (which he also achieved) and, most crucially, build a large opera house on the site of both the ancient medieval village and the Grade II* listed Brownian landscape (the asterisk denotes a particularly important building of more than special interest). In the event, however, Buxton was unable to secure sufficient funding and detailed planning permission for the scheme. Consequently, having already disposed of many of the mansion’s fixtures and fittings, in 1993 he sold the house – and subsequently much of the remaining estate too – to the Peter Moores Foundation.

Restoration and renewal The foundation’s acquisition of the site provided Compton Verney with an exciting and viable new future. The brainchild of the late Littlewoods heir, Sir Peter Moores (1932–2016), the Peter Moores Foundation had been set up by Sir Peter in 1964 with a remit to assist opera, the visual arts and education. Sir Peter’s aim was ‘to get things done and open doors for people, but not


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to push them through’ and he later observed that ‘I feel passionately about demystifying the arts and giving people the opportunity to make a choice. You cannot learn to like what you cannot easily come to know’. Sir Peter’s foundation immediately set up an independent charitable body, the Compton Verney House Trust, to operate the site and it is this trust that still runs Compton Verney today. Starting in 1994, the trust’s architects (Stanton Williams, working with conservation experts Rodney Melville and Partners) restored the main house, converting it into a modern art gallery and adding a contemporary new wing to the north (on the site of the former service wing) to house exhibition spaces,

Image: Bill Cooper


FURTHER INFORMATION Compton Verney’s six collections include the largest compilation of British Folk Art in the country, designer Enid Marx’s own collection, which she bequeathed to Compton Verney following her death, and one of the finest collections of Chinese Bronzes outside of China, as well as Sir Peter Moores’ own collections of Neapolitan art (1600–1800), British Portraits (1485–1603) and Northern European art (1450–1650). The exhibitions opening on Saturday 14 March 2020 are: CRANACH: ARTIST & INNOVATOR, exploring the work of one of the most successful German artists of all time and how he has been inspiring artists for 500 years. ▷ www.


Left: Sir Peter Moores, who brought Compton Verney back to life and secured its future. Bottom: The Chinese Collection.

FABRIC: TOUCH & IDENTITY, exploring how fabric conceals, reveals and seduces through the lenses of art, design, fashion, film and dance. ▷ www.comptonverney.

org.uk/thing-to-do/fabric-touchand-identity/ Compton Verney’s 2020 events programme includes a celebration of VE Day on Bank Holiday, featuring a performance installation by Turner Prize-nominated artist Simon Patterson in reflection of Compton Verney’s wartime smokescreen testing. There are also regular activities for families, such as the weekly Forest School, and creative activities that take place every school holiday. And Compton Verney also hosts workshops for adults, from printing to life drawing.

catering facilities and a shop. The resulting art gallery opened for a preview season in 1998, and fully opened to the public in 2004. The rescuing and repurposing of Compton Verney by Sir Peter Moores constitutes one of the most outstanding acts of cultural patronage in post-war Britain. Sir Peter himself generously donated four of the permanent collections now housed in the gallery. Without his intervention and imagination, Compton Verney would today be a sad ruin, and its inspiring art gallery and park a mere pipe dream. Not only has Sir Peter left Warwickshire and the country a significant legacy, his farsighted patronage of the arts will also continue to serve as an exemplary model for others in the years to come.

The collections Compton Verney today is a lively, exciting art gallery housing six permanent collections and a series of engaging art exhibitions of international standard.

Image: Jamie Woodley

Restoring the landscape

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Since opening in 2004 there has also been an ongoing programme to restore many of the ‘Capability’ Brown features within the grounds. Today, Brown’s ice house has been restored, the chapel repaired, ice house coppice cleared of twentieth-century incursions, and many of Brown’s pathways have been reinstated for visitors to enjoy the views, just as Brown intended. ›






OXFORD Journalist, author and broadcaster Peter Hitchens on bottlewashing at the brewery, bacon sandwiches on the barricades and the power of frozen thought WR, THE WESTERN REGIONAL MAGAZINE

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ondon. And the implacable winter weather is about to turn even nastier on Kensington High Street, making it a relief to leave the relentless traffic behind and slip through the glass doors of Northcliffe House, HQ of Daily Mail and General Trust plc. There’s a couple of minutes for a leaf through today’s paper in the foyer before Peter Hitchens – brisk, genial, Starbucks coffee in hand – arrives and we take the lift to the fourth floor cafe, part of a vast atrium that looks not unlike the centrepiece of a very swanky hotel. In over 40 years on Fleet Street, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens has been a specialist reporter on education, labour and industry, defence and diplomacy, and politics, as well as a resident correspondent in Washington and Moscow. In 1999, he published The Abolition of Britain, the first in a series of books that examines the cultural, social and moral revolution that has transformed the UK since the 1950s. After being shortlisted twice, he won the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2010 for his foreign correspondence. In the course of his work, Peter has visited 57 countries. But Oxford is the place he calls home. His first sight of the city came in the autumn of 1963, when he and his family were resident in Long Crendon near Thame. They moved to Oxford the following year, and it was there that Peter spent much of his youth and where, in 1984, after time in the likes of York, Swindon, Coventry and London, he

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returned to live for good (apart from his five years in Washington and Moscow), with few if any regrets and a hatful of joys. ‘I still find new and unexpected things about it almost every week. I realised the other day I’d never properly looked at the sculptures on the front of Brasenose. So I did. And they are fascinating.’ The Brasenose College postal address is on Radcliffe Square, which, even after having experienced more cities than most of us have had hot dinners, Peter is happy to nominate as ‘the most beautiful square in Europe’. He adds, however, that the full value of the buildings goes way beyond merely pleasing the eye. ‘Without architecture, you cannot see the past. Without architecture, you cannot see how people thought in the past. It’s been described as frozen music, which I think is a beautiful description. But it’s also frozen thought. The whole of the centre of Oxford is a huge anthem to the glory of God. If it could be expressed in sound, it would be deafening.’ ‘Terribly steeped’ in the literature of the city, Peter has an extensive Oxford-related book collection at home, including classic guidebooks (Ward Lock, Clarendon, Grant Allen. . . .) and pride of place for the mid1960’s edition of James (now Jan) Morris’s Oxford. ‘That influenced me hugely. I read it when I was living in Oxford in my late teens. And I understood what Oxford was properly


THE ORWELL PRIZE Those who award the prize take their cue from the following: ‘What I have most wanted to do is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, “I am going to produce a work of art”. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention. . . .’ George Orwell, Why I Write When judging the prize, the following criteria are taken into account: • • • •

Artfulness and clarity of writing Quality of critical thought Public and educational benefit Contribution to the quality of public discourse

▷ www.orwellfoundation.com/ journalist/peter-hitchens/

In response to the award, Peter praised Orwell for belonging ‘to the truth’ rather than to any political side or to any of the ‘smelly little orthodoxies’ that contended for our souls in Orwell’s day, or indeed to those that contend for them today.

from that.’ The Erosion of Oxford by James Stevens Curl also merits a mention, which describes how, little by little, ‘the true character of the place was being removed.’ And it would be a great pity, Peter adds, to lose anything of the essence of a city as culturally and historically crucial as Oxford. There is therefore, he argues, a duty to preserve and cherish it. ‘England without Oxford would be a diminished country. England without a


Image: Alexey Fedorenko

The website that includes the pieces Peter submitted to the judges can be seen here:

IT’S BEEN DESCRIBED AS FROZEN MUSIC, WHICH I THINK IS A BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTION. BUT IT’S ALSO FROZEN THOUGHT. beautiful Oxford would be a diminished country. So there has to be a national concern for it. And there has to be national money for it’.

Ironically, though, when concern leads to renovation, it can result in a loss of character, a point Peter illustrates by recalling the refurbishment he saw the end of in the early 1960s. ‘A lot of Oxford was built with Headington stone. And it’s lovely stone to work with. If you’re a stonemason, it cuts like butter. It’s beautiful. ‘But the same characteristic means that it erodes terribly, so an awful lot of the colleges by the middle of the twentieth century were black with soot from coal fires and blistered and crumbling. And a lot of the carvings on the grotesques and gargoyles had faded away.’

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Plenty was spent on sprucing the place up and the city was transformed. ‘And now it’s terribly bright. All the stone is beautifully clean and all the smokeless zones mean that it’s never going to get black again and be like it was. . . . And they’re now beautifully renovated. But I still miss the way they were. It looked older and more mysterious.’ This thought sparks a memory of being driven by his father out to Long Crendon after tea at the Randolph (an experience his father felt Peter ‘ought to have’) on a foggy December evening at what, Peter thinks, must have been the beginning of the Christmas holidays. They went by a route you now couldn’t take by car: ‘Down New College Lane and Queen’s Lane in the fog. Those black walls and the fog. I’ll always remember that.’ Other memories from his younger days are more town than gown; reminders of how much Oxford is also an industrial city. In 1968, he joined the Trotskyist International Socialists (later the

WITHOUT ARCHITECTURE, YOU CANNOT SEE THE PAST. WITHOUT ARCHITECTURE, YOU CANNOT SEE HOW PEOPLE THOUGHT IN THE PAST. Socialist Workers Party) and recalls being a student troublemaker at the Oxford College of Further Education. ‘The big thing we did was a hairdresser’s in the Cowley Road that was accused of discriminating against black people. It was probably the first anti-racialist – as we called it – protest in Britain. We were all involved in that. And the people from the university came and joined in.’

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The Oxford International Socialists met above the Port Mahon in St Clements: ‘One of the few pubs in Oxford which is more or less how it was.’ Peter recalls selling Socialist Worker and handing out leaflets at dawn at the Pressed Steel plant on Garsington Road in Cowley. ‘And then afterwards we’d go and have bacon sandwiches and strong tea in Johnson’s cafe – the best bacon sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life. I still miss them.’ Johnson’s itself is now more than 10 years gone. Youthful experience of town life wasn’t, of course, confined to activism. ‘I also had a summer job at Morrell’s brewery – when the industry was dominated by keg beer – for 11 pounds 13 and fourpence a week gross.’ Slinging crates, rolling barrels, and – ‘the real horror job’ – washing out bottles full of the stink of beer vinegar from the ullage. After which, he could only flop down on the sofa and watch trash TV: ‘Slack-jawed, without a qualm, because I really didn’t care. And then switch it off and go to bed and sleep the sleep of the just and get up at six o’clock to do it again. It was a good experience.’ Morrell’s brewery on St Thomas Street closed down in 1998. His days as a bottle-washer far behind him, Peter now enjoys the hospitality of the likes of the Addison Society at the Queen’s College and was invited last year to the Waynflete Dinner at Magdalen, which honours the college’s founder. ‘It is the most perfect Oxford ceremony. Even your water comes in chaste silver cups. And you can wander about in between courses in the cloisters or in Addison’s Walk. And I dined on high table a long time ago at Christ Church. I think Magdalen actual has the more beautiful dining hall. But I’m a townie. I’m not a university person. I’m not respectable either, thank heaven.’ Such prandial opulence is redolent of the romantic Oxford – of Brideshead, Zuleika Dobson and meeting Alice by the Isis – a place that exists as much in the imagination as it does in the past but now can only be glimpsed. Peter underscores this by quoting from the Balliol-educated

JAN MORRIS’S OXFORD ‘The genius of this learned city has Christian origins, and propagates itself in individualism, fantasy and endless invention. Oxford overflows with queer and wonderful possessions . . . there is scarcely a human activity that she has not enriched – from the art of nonsense to the ruling of the world.’ Oxford, chapter four Author, historian and travel writer Jan Morris (born 1926) first published her guide to Oxford in 1965. It has been widely praised: ‘A book of outstanding excellence, with a sweep of knowledge and a distinction of style such as I have never before encountered in a work of this sort. . . . Brilliant alike in observation and imagination . . . brings the very stones of Oxford to life.’ (The Sunday Telegraph) ‘Surely no one has ever celebrated any city with such fluent, persuasive and utterly charming prose as Jan Morris celebrates Oxford.’ (The Scotsman)

Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘Duns Scotus’s Oxford’ (1879): Towery city and branchy between towers; Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark charmèd, rook racked, river-rounded. . . . The poet would regard contemporary Oxford, Peter adds, as being completely despoiled. ‘But the Oxford I saw initially in the 1960s was as tranquil by comparison to the Oxford of today as Hopkins’ Oxford would be to the one that I saw. . . . Now I think that maybe occasionally on a late autumn afternoon when the tourists have gone or, best of all, on a late December late at night when it’s frozen and there are no tourists and the light is spilling out of the archways, it’s still just there. But during the garish day, it’s gone.’ ›



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Indicative fuel consumption figures in litres/100km (mpg) for the 2020 MY Aston Martin DBX: urban 12.2 (23.1); extra urban 13.5 (20.8); combined 14.3 (19.7). CO2 emissions 269g/ km. The mpg/fuel economy figures quoted are sourced from regulated test results obtained through laboratory testing. These figures are strictly indicative and preliminary and are for early comparability purposes only and may not reflect your real driving experience, which may vary depending on factors including road conditions, weather, vehicle load and driving style. These early prototype figures are intended for indicative comparability purposes. This vehicle is not yet for sale and this information is based on a prototype. The fuel consumption you may achieve under real life driving conditions and CO2 produced will depend upon a number of factors | ISSUE 17 | to WINTER/SPRING including68 the accessories fitted after registration, variations in driving styles, weather conditions and vehicle load. The official figures for this vehicle will be released prior and accompanying2019–20 this vehicle being made for sale to the public. This information will be updated as testing continues.

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WR, The Western Regional magazine, Winter 2019/Spring 2020