Baronets Diary May 2016

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

Welcome To The Baronets Diary May 2016


Once There Was a Tree.

The demise of a 120-year-old sycamore tree in St Mary’s Churchyard was not part of my arboreal plan when the Peak District National Park tree expert visited Tissington recently. As we live in a conservation village we have to have various tree works endorsed by the Authority. Having looked at two sites (the first being the lime trees on the Avenue that I wrote of last month), we were walking back to our vehicles when he and Ben King, our tree surgeon, stumbled upon a large canker in this sycamore. It was immediately condemned. This led to a sophisticated operation which involved felling the culprit away from the gravestones and into an adjoining field. With the aid of two burly tractors, five men and several ropes, the sycamore was extracted. On the good side, as well as providing more firewood for us locals, it entertained the customers at Herbert’s tearooms opposite who were enjoying their coffee and cakes.

Points Of View

In my role as Chairman of the Derbyshire Dales District Council it is my responsibility to take charge of the monthly meetings of our Full Council in the Town Hall at Matlock. Usually these meetings, although political, do not throw up heavily contentious issues but this premise was rudely overturned at our March meeting. The debate was over the proposal to adopt our Draft Local Plan and take it to the consultation stage. The Plan involves a collection of sites that could be recommended for future housing developments, to secure the allocation of well over 6,000 new homes for our district. Of course there were objectors and through our procedures those who had registered were allowed three minutes to give their point of view. What I had not reckoned with was that my major heckler on the night was a 93-year-old gentleman from Matlock deriding one particular site. The rules were three misdemeanors and out! Fortunately Frederick Burgess only interrupted debate twice so I was not forced to ask him to leave but what a headline that would have made if I had had to eject from a public meeting someone born in 1923! For information, the draft plan was passed in the end.

A Cleaner Village

The initiative to clear the locality of rubbish in the campaign to ‘Clean For The Queen’ provided the villagers who took part in our efforts on the first weekend in March with a quite a lot of amusement. Over two mornings my volunteers and I collected over 50 bags of rubbish and detritus – largely discarded food packaging – from the roadsides and byways of the parish. There is a lay-by for lorry-drivers near the ford which is a likely spot for discarded litter. As two of my team filled their bags, a parked-up lorry driver shouted out of his window: ‘What have you two done to get community service?’ Astonished, my two trusty tenants explained that their red-coloured anoraks were in fact their own attire, rather than that issued by a penitentiary!.

Picturing The Past

I have been introduced to the works of Benjamin Stone. ‘Who is he?’ I hear you utter. Well, Sir Benjamin (1838-1914) was a politician and a prolific amateur documentary photographer who travelled widely in pursuit of his hobby. He took 26,000 photographs and wrote books as he travelled to Spain, Norway, Japan and Brazil. Amongst other things he was very interested in this country’s ancient customs and took very early photographs of Well Dressings (which we celebrate from 5th–11th May this year). His travels took him to other festivals around the country such as the Sherborne Pageant, the Corby Pole Fair of 1902 and the Northumberland Baal Fires. His collection is housed in the Birmingham Library and I will be visiting soon to see his images of Tissington. I was introduced to his works by a University lecturer’s research into a new book on Well Dressings, but more of that in a later column..

The Grand Tour

The launch of The Grand Tour exhibition took place in Derby Museum the Friday before Easter. Last month I wrote of the three paintings held at Tissington that have been included in the exhibition. The gallery has a plethora of exhibits that encapsulate the tours of Europe undertaken by gentry in the 18th and 19th century. My forebear, the first baronet Sir William is described as an ‘intrepid Derbyshire traveler’ and the private pieces combine beautifully with the Museum’s own unique collection. On view at Derby Museum until 12th June and well worth a visit. As part of this splendid Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire collaboration, there are also shows at Chatsworth, the new Harley Gallery at Welbeck and Nottingham Contemporary.. .

See Your Next Month RRF