Sunday 3 April
The first marriage has taken place in the new Arboretum Pavilion at Tissington Hall and the bride and groom (Caroline and Shaun) were thrilled with the marquee and the whole day.
Monday 4 April
Freddie arrives back from Manchester University to help plan ‘the bash’. Themed ‘A Night at the Movies’, all guests are being asked to dress up in movie-related themes for the evening. The wine is delivered and we attempt to build a mental image of the table lay-out.
Tuesday 5 April
Despite the end of the tax year, the priority for the day is another trip to the ‘Nerve Centre’, ie the Billiard Room, where the 15 table assemblage is being undertaken. Overnight we find that we have left off two invitees and the numbers swell to 143 plus1.
Pretty exact for the caterers but we need the final numbers. The discussion moves to sleeping arrangements for the evening and tempers begin to fray. As I sit at my desk at night (it’s 11pm), pondering on my speech, we get a drop-out. It’s a boy! uckily we have more boys than girls. 142 plus1!
Wednesday 6 April
We wake up to rain on the morning of our first party which is an afternoon tea in the new marquee for all the tenants from
Tissington and our Warsop Estate in Nottinghamshire. We are expecting 145 for tea and fizz. Let’s hope the weather clears up.
A mix of sunshine and showers is the order for the afternoon and Freddie does a great job in talking to everyone, despite not nowing exactly who all our guests are! They know him as at 6ft 5 inches he’s the tallest person there. He receives his first cake – a cricket one with the number 21 on his back. In my speech I joke that I hope the village like Freddie’s taste in music this coming Saturday night!
Thursday 7 April
More planning at the Nerve Centre as we make adjustments to the final numbers. Two fellow travellers from Shanghai drop out and we reduce the tables to 11 rounds and 2 ovals. Furious redesign of the table floor takes place until all are happy. The Plus 1 character has now pulled out.
Friday 8 April
Freddie has started his ‘thank you’ letters as everyone was so generous at the tea party with the village raising a large sum for him to spend in a Country Clothing store in Derby and others contributing cufflinks, champagne and cash (in that order!). He as purchased a sporting coat. Final deliveries to the marquee include another cake...this time in the shape of a Pink Monkey…his favourite youthful toy. Relations start to arrive.
Saturday 9 April
The final touches to the marquee with movie stickers and table menus arranged around the superb flower arrangements from Debbie at Passion Flowers of Littleover. Two family guests need to visit the Doctor first thing, so I feel nervous as to final numbers. The Grand National interrupts dealing with frantic last minute issues and the horse I backed is placed second but then the real organisation begins… All visitors have been given billets for the night (there is no need for taxis) and the happy throng appear from all points north, south, east and west and even the Netherlands. The friends are divided into groups and we graciously place stickers on the various doors in the Hall to give the guests some idea of where they are potentially sleeping.
Drinks in the Main Hall kick off proceedings and then all 138 (we lose one in the mist playing a gig in Derby), don our costumes (all make an effort) to devour the superb dinner from Charlie Thellusson and The Red Olive team. The second cake is produced and celebrated before Bliss DJ play out the night (and the morning) to the disco throng. It takes forever to get everyone to bed.
Sunday 10 April
In the morning I survey the scene and estimate that we have had 85 or so stay in the house overnight. I even find the offspring of the former High Sheriff asleep under the baby grand piano in the West Drawing Room! There have only been two casualties in the night and the Treasure Hunt around the village provides amusement for all as guests swim in the pond, ride bareback, hoot a .22 rifle at home made targets and generally recount the night’s activities. All the guests leave the village by 2 o’clock.
Monday 11 April
After such a high it is a huge comedown on the second morning after. We know we have all done our best to produce a great party. The ‘thank yous’ begin to flood in and our efforts are justified. I have to remember why we have celebrated Freddie’s 21st! He is the first FitzHerbert born from Tissington for 148 years! It’s history in the making. I trust we don’t have to wait another tranche for the next party.