Generals and Cutting-
It is always fascinating to visit
another neighbouring Estate.
Every year a select dozen of us
in Derbyshire descend on one of
our own to share ‘best practice’.
This year we were fortunate to
be invited to the Renishaw Estate
north of Chesterfield. Home to the
Sitwell family for over 200 years
our host Alexandra Hayward
showed us the tremendous range
of activity on the holding. From
the biomass boiler that heats the
Hall and the various businesses
in the Stableyard through to the
refurbished and enticing cafe that
served us all an excellent lunch.
And of course the showpiece
was the exemplary gardens that
looked splendid on a September
afternoon. There are further
plans afoot to further embellish
the Hall and grounds. The visit
gave Fiona and I food for thought!
A most worthwhile day.
My son Freddie made a brief
return to Derbyshire in the early
autumn, sandwiched between
working holidays in South Africa
and India. Freddie barely had
time to touch the ground before
embarking on his further travels.
However in that period we did
manage to have some time together
when, between business trips, I
took him to various Derbyshire
sites. One such visit was to
magnificent St Mary’s Church
in Wirksworth and another was
to the Crich Memorial Tower in
memory of the soldiers from the
Sherwood Foresters who died
in active service. Reaching the
Tower from the steep approach,
we stopped to look at the new
engravings of the fallen but then
noticed a plaque to one General
Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien.
What a name! ‘What a guy!’
was Freddie’s response. Why, I
asked? Well, this general was an
extraordinarily brave soldier who
Freddie had spoken of at his job as
a tourist guide in Africa when he
recounted the General’s exploits in
the Zulu war. There is not enough
space here to recount his story but
do make the time to look him up.
Another visit with Freddie was
to our Church in the village, St
Mary’s, opposite the tearoom.
At time of year I ask the team to
tidy up the FitzHerbert part of the
graveyard and Freddie happened
to be about that day as Ben and Ken
reset falling stones and generally
smartened up the northern part
of the graveyard. With their help
we opened up the grids which lead
to the family vaults and Freddie
and I were once again reunited
with our ancestors. The last time I
had descended those steps was in
2006 on the death of our mother,
so there was a certain amount
of leaves and detritus to remove.
This photograph shows Freddie
greeting our family forebears.
It is not often that Fiona and
I are invited to a 50th wedding
anniversary but that was the case
when we attended Carole and
Ken Unwin’s party for family and
friends at Dovedale Garage in
Thorpe and the happy throng was
treated to the fanfare, tunes and
artistry of Christian Cartwright
playing the ‘Pipes of the Peaks’
Compton organ in the beautifully appointed car showroom hall.
Carole and Ken were married on
28th September, 1966 at St Mary’s
in Tissington and have lived in the
village all their lives. The party
was a huge success with donations
(instead of presents) towards the
village defibrillator fund. Many
congratulations Carole and Ken!
The arrival of a Tesla battery
in the dairy has caused much
consternation in the household.
The Tesla Company is at the
forefront of renewable energy
storage in battery form. The idea
is that the device stores the energy
from the solar panels situated on
the roof of the Hall. If that energy
is not fully utilised during the
day then on nightfall it powers
the battery that emits power
to the system during the night.
Only a few of my colleagues are
familiar with this new gadgetry
but they do appreciate that it
is vaguely incongruous that a
407-year-old listed building is
using cutting edge technology.