November 20th, 2013
After I wrote about “Smirke Revisited”, various works of art duly arrived at Eastnor on loan from the Lonsdale collection, and we had the excitement of unpacking and unwrapping the items as they were delivered. I image my ancestors had the same experience as their purchases arrived from the Grand Tour, or its mid-19th century equivalent, though I suspect they would have been more in a supervisory capacity rather than in a hands-on role as I was and I doubt that so much of high quality would ever have arrived at one time.
We then had the challenge of displaying it all. I had done some planning and bought in a quantity of heavy hooks and chain from Frank B Scragg of Birmingham. Our first job was to fix cast iron hooks to the backs of the frames as the Lowther picture hanging system was different from ours. We then suspended the new chains from existing rails, after moving our own pictures to one side to make room for the distinguished visitors. We then offered up the new paintings to see what they looked like. On the whole, they looked excellent.
In the first image, David Littlewood, our Business Manager, and Anthony Marriott, one of our house managers, have just finished helping me hang a painting of Lowther Castle from the park by Turner. Obviously a very good painting, it was nevertheless hard to see without a picture light, so we asked Tom Oates from Chelsea Lighting Design to produce a light that would exactly illuminate it after I had sent all the dimensions. Then the second image shows the Turner in the middle, duly lit after Tom and two colleagues came down and did the job. The effect is dramatic. The painting is now the highlight of the Dining Room, if not the whole display, and the light exactly covers all the canvas and frame, whereas our old-fashioned lights used just to light the top of the painting-and overheat the canvas in the process. We have also had Tom fit new lights to six other paintings on his visit.
I hope our visitors will appreciate the new display when we re-open to the public at Easter in 2014. Meanwhile, I am glad the bulbs have a predicted life of 4000 hours!
JH-B 17th November 2013
October 18th, 2013
In an alley off the south end of Ledbury High Street are the discreet premises of Tilley Printing. It is a Victorian establishment, now owned and run by Martin Clark, and he supplies us with printed writing paper for our guest bedrooms and other materials from time to time, including invitation cards to my 21st birthday party, my brother’s and my eldest daughters (sadly, not repeat business).
Although Martin is seen standing next to a relatively modern machine, he also uses an Albion Press, manufacturer by A Wilson & Sons, London, from about 1850 and a Wharfedale Printing Machine by Payne & Sons, Otley, one of the machines which is said to have transformed the printing industry in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Tilley machine dates from about 1895, according to Martin, and is still driven by a belt off the original line shafting, which itself is now driven by an electric motor, a replacement for a paraffin engine and before that a steam engine. (The covered-over hole for its chimney is still evident in the roof).
Tilley Printing was started in about 1870, when Luke Tilley, a local stationer and photographer, took over the business from a Mr Bayliss. It is open for business on weekdays, and is occasionally open at other times e.g. for Herefordshire Art Week. To secure its future, Martin has taken on an apprentice, Anneliese Appleby, a former art teacher. Her training is being sponsored by the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust a charity of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.
We hope it all works out as we should like to continue using Tilley Printing and its perfectly good, but old machines for as long as we can.
JH-B 14th September 2014
September 18th, 2013
Thanks to an introduction from the adviser who is guiding us on the restoration of our arboretum, Tom Stuart-Smith we have been in contact with Martin Gardner at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh who is managing a programme to preserve species of threatened conifers from around the world. As conifers grow well at Eastnor, and we have a fine collection from the 19th century planting of Charles, 3rd Earl Somers, we have been lucky enough to be asked to plant a number of young trees grown from the seeds recovered from trees at risk as an outstation of the main botanic garden, making Eastnor part of a network of over 150 sites across the UK and Ireland contributing to this conservation effort.
In the attached image, Tom Christian is shown measuring the growth of a thriving specimen of Abies cilicica sub species cilicica which was planted last year and has enjoyed the recent combination of spring rain and summer sun. Details of the species and how it is threatened can be found on http://threatenedconifers.rbge.org.uk/taxa/details/abies-cilicica-subsp.-cilicica. Tom works closely with Martin Gardner and is Project Officer with the National Tree Collections of Scotland & the iCONic Project and has selected the trees for Eastnor, based on his observations of what has grown well here in the past. They are about to embark on a collecting trip to Japan, so perhaps we will benefit from the results of the trip in due course. They can be followed on the iCONic website mentioned above.
As over a third of the world’s conifers are under threat of extinction in the wild, it is a privilege for us to be able to join this ambitious conservation project, even though we are some distance from its epicentre in Scotland. Also, as I have also had many happy visits to Syria in the past and used to be a director of the British Syrian Society, I am delighted to be able to preserve an element of Syria’s natural heritage in what should be a safer place.
JH-B 8th Sept 2013