Baronets Diary December 2016

Written By - Sir Richard Ranulph FitzHerbert, 9th Baronet.

Welcome To The Baronets Diary December 2016


Dreaming spires

It has taken me 27 years of living in Derbyshire to visit Lichfield Cathedral. I’ve watched my son Freddie playing prep school cricket at the town but usually speed past on my trips southwards. However, when using the Lichfield Trent Valley railway station recently I made time to explore not only the Cathedral but its Close as well. I was overwhelmed with the size, grandeur and beauty of the building. On touring this House of God I discovered that the amazing great windows were originally from Herkenrode Abbey in Belgium (suppressed by Napoleon) and were installed in the Lady Chapel between 1805 and 1807. Over 300 panels of glass had been secured in 1801 from the Abbey’s new private owners by the aristocrat and poet Sir Brooke Boothby of Ashbourne Hall and he then sold some of the glass to the Cathedral for about £212 (regarded as a bargain at the time) half of which was paid before they had seen any glass! It is impressive and not to be missed. It is also the only medieval three-spired Cathedral in the UK. Well worth more than just a passing visit!

Marriage Is Still In Fashion

This year we have married off 28 brides. Quite an achievement for our team of Rebecca, Louise and Abi alongside the gardeners Ben and Ken and the marquee squad from Top Marques. It has been an eventful season with one photographer having a heart attack before the ceremony and ending up in hospital and another incident involving an errant barrel of beer. The Arboretum Pavilion is now closed for the winter and we start again in April. So far over 20 weddings are booked for 2017 with several pending for 2018. Marriage is still in fashion!

Journals & Poetry

‘Orgasms of Joy and Delight...’ is not a phrase that you see in many thank you letters but this was indeed what I encountered when I opened a card from a lady I had escorted around the Hall in a group from the BSST (British Society of Sugar Technologists). The group meets annually in a different place to discuss market trends and visit sites with interesting connections. Our family were owners of various sugar plantations around Barbados and Jamaica from the 18th century and I was able to show them letters and documents exchanged between Sir Henry (3rd Baronet) and his agents in the West Indies. When we finished with the Hall and I led the group on a tour of the gardens, two of the ladies preferred to stay inside in the Library. Her ‘orgasms...’ comment was as a result of this sojourn as she perused the journal Sir Henry had written on board his ship sailing to the West Indies. Her colleague was in a similar condition over finding and reading ‘some eye-wateringly naughty Latin poetry’. Up until then I did not know that I possessed such a tome. Interesting!

Courtyard Conversion

Sudbury Courtyard is a newly converted range of historic buildings that has opened as a retail shopping outlet in the heart of Sudbury village. Owned and managed by the Sudbury Estate it is located adjacent to the National Trust’s Sudbury Hall and Museum of Childhood, which attracts over 160,000 visitors per year. Outlining its assets, the letting brochure states that ‘The development presents businesses with a fantastic opportunity to relocate to a newly finished, high-end development in an area benefiting from a significant potential customer base.’ It is a triumph for Janna & Alexander Fitzalan- Howard after all their hard work obtaining the necessary permissions and listed building consents. The redevelopment breathes new life back into a neglected corner of the Estate and I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the retail units, topped off by a refreshing cup of coffee in the former Joiner’s Shop.

See Your Next Month RRF