Baronets Diary November 2016

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

Welcome To The Baronets Diary November 2016


Great Gardens, Generals and Cutting- Edge Technology.

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.

See Your Next Month RRF