The Baronets Diary

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

Baronets Diary April 2020 - Features include, Raising funds for bush fire relief, Water, water, everywhere..

After my musings about the Seventh ‘Well’ in the village created from the combined shenanigans of Severn Trent and the Highways Department, the situation got worse following the two storms in February, namely Ciara and Dennis. After the dreadful floods before Christmas, these two put water where I had never seen it before in all the 30 years I’ve lived at Tissington. As in previous wet situations it is not advisable to try to cross the ford except in a large 4x4 or tractor and this poor Mercedes proved the point as it ground to a halt midway across. Usually vehicles are removed pretty immediately but this car remained there for at least seven days. It may even still be there (as other larger vehicles can traverse around it) as you read this… or it may have floated downstream!

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Baronets Diary March 2020 - Features include, Three times the best man, Village action..

It is 33 years since I was first asked to be a best man. After my first appearance, for James Proudlock on his marriage to Joanna in 1987, I was next on parade in 2006 when I performed the task for Hugh LeFanu’s marriage to Sara in the comfort of our own home. I was in the hot seat again this January, to toast the marriage of Andrew Bruce to his Italian bride Barbara in London. On this occasion I had the luxury of a joint best man – Andrew Norman. We cobbled the speech together over coffee and cake at the Attenborough Nature Reserve (halfway to Nottingham), which was a suitable midway rendezvous. I suspect that 33 years on I was a little less nervous as I came to deliver our speech so that the guests enjoyed our joint ribbing of the groom. It is a task that I doubt I will do again but we all enjoyed the nuptials of this merry couple.

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Baronets Diary February 2020 - Features include, In print & waiting tables, What a picture..

It is always agreeable to be featured in a newspaper article but to get a whole page in a national Sunday broadsheet was fantastic, not just for the publicity it generated but also for the acknowledgement of the hard work that all our teams put in to keep the Hall and the Estate going. Sunday Telegraph reporter Eleanor Doughty penned a piece on Tissington in the ‘Great Estates’ feature before Christmas under the headline ‘Is that Lady FitzHerbert clearing the tables?’. Indeed the answer was ‘Yes’ and we can prove it as on New Year’s Eve and Day both Fiona and I were furiously clearing tables, collecting trays and loading the industrial dishwasher to serve the happy visitors. We even had a few comments on TripAdvisor. It was a charming piece… a copy of which is framed and hanging on the wall at Herbert’s if you would like to see it.

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Baronets Diary December 2020 - Features include, Star of wonder, Flying the flag for ashbourne and more..

I wrote in September about the struggles of Ashbourne’s High Street with the closure of various stores. Better news is at hand. A public meeting with District Council leader Garry Purdy and shopholders has culminated in the formation of the ‘Ashbourne Town Team’, under the guidance of Anne Wright of Young Ideas. Already the group has involved district and county councillors and created a website www.ashbournetownteam.co.uk. Watch this space as the project evolves

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Baronets Diary December 2020 - Features include, The knife angel, salvage hunters and more..

It was a Derby woman, Rachel Webb, who was instrumental in bringing The Knife Angel to Derby in October. For those of you who did not see this magnificent statue outside the Cathedral on Iron Gate it really was the most amazing structure. With knife crime on the rise across the country the statue has come to be a symbol of the hard work that partners in all communities contribute to halt this dreadful disease in society. Rachel’s son Tom was only 22 years old when he was stabbed and killed in St Peter’s Street, Derby, by a 16-year-old boy in January 2016. The 27 feet high sculpture is made from 100,000 bladed weapons collected in ‘amnesty’ knife banks across the country and has been on a tour of the country stopping off at Derby before heading for Chester. Powerful.

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Baronets Diary November 2019 - Features include, Back on TV, Master clock, Good game...

Rather like London buses we get no television filming enquiries for months then suddenly three come along at once. First I was interviewed for a forthcoming slot on the BBC East Midlands show Inside Out about a piece on slavery when the presenter Sue Brown revealed that one of our ancestors, one Robert Alleyne, had been very kind over the sentencing of an escaped slave and had in fact defended him, so granting his freedom. Second, a show that I had appeared on over ten years ago decided to revisit past haunts. Broadcast on the Discovery back on tv Channel, the show is called Salvage Hunters and is presented by celebrity Drew Pritchard who descends on a property and rummages around in sheds and attics to haggle for items his team can restore and then sell on at inflated prices. Thirdly, after talking to me, the team behind the first show decided that they wanted to pitch for a 30 minute documentary about our village and proceeded to spend the next Saturday filming local characters (of which there are plenty!) for a pilot. I shall let the dear reader know transmission dates..

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Baronets Diary October 2019 - Features include, High street news, local support from a charitable trust and more...

There is great concern around the town of Ashbourne about its shopping experience. The department store Bennetts closed in early April, causing a great deal of angst not only for its staff but also its loyal customers. Following that, in late August, three further stores have closed, namely the flower shop Absolutely Fabulous, the men’s outfitters Graves, and Dig Street’s MSR News (from whom I bought my weekly Lottery ticket). As you drive through the town lots of high street news premises are empty and the remaining storekeepers are deeply worried about the future of their trade and of the town as it becomes populated with cafés, charity shops and the new craze of gin bars. Of course, the rise in internet shopping with the comfort of purchasing goods from the sofa and high business rates are factors in the issue but the traders of Ashbourne are fighting back to rejuvenate the retail offer. I will write further on progress in future issues..

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Baronets Diary September 2019 - Features include, ‘I was there’...

Life gives few opportunities for the true use of that phrase, but I was there on the day England won the Cricket World Cup on Sunday 14th July 2019. As regular readers will know I love my cricket and each January plan my diary around the fixtures list, especially at Lord’s, and apply for various tickets to take family and friends to international matches and others in London NW8. The Cricket World Cup (CWC) takes place every four years and the last time it was held in England was in 1999. As a member of the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) for the games at Lord’s I had to enter a ballot for tickets. For the round robin England/Australia match I was only given one (so I sent it back to the ticket office) but I was also allocated three tickets for the final. Remember this was in January – seven months before the actual day.

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Baronets Diary August 2019 - Features Include, Going stateside, Up Up & Away and more

It is not often that I discover I have a stalker. A chance encounter at Herbert’s Tearooms in the village (when I was clearing tables at a busy lunchtime) found me shaking hands with a visitor who announced himself as ‘your most favourite reader in America’. Nonplussed, I shook Justin Brooks’ hand and discovered that in 1989 his mother-in-law had given him a subscription to our hallowed publication. Over the last 30 years it appears that Justin has turned to my page every month to learn about my musings and meditations. Alongside Justin’s charming wife Heidi and Belper-based sister-in-law Amelia I proceeded to take an impromptu tour of the Hall, even taking the trio onto the roof! In the coming weeks I will write more about my stateside reader!

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Baronets Diary July 2019 - Features Include, One to look back on, A field day and more

We were delighted to welcome well known presenter Anita Rani to the village in May to record a piece for BBC TV’s Countryfile programme. Anita spent the morning with me, exploring the Estate to see how the village functions and has thrived under the ownership of just one family over the last 500 years. Anita was keen to experience our attractions and spent time at the candle shop, the butcher’s and with sweet shop impresario David Walker at his emporium Edward and Vintage, where Anita was introduced to the art of fudge making. By the end of her visit Anita revealed that she had won Celebrity Bake-off in 2012 and was offering her services to complete our own ‘Butcher, Baker and Candlestick maker’. She spied a suitable cottage and at present we are in consultation..

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Baronets Diary June 2019 - Features Include, Campaign Trail Tales, Celebrating ST George’s day and more

I have been a Member of Derbyshire Dales District Council for eight years. At the election four years ago I was uncontested and helped canvass for colleagues in their wards but this May I was up against two other candidates so I went on the campaign trail in my patch. The Ward covers the pretty villages of Thorpe, Fenny Bentley, Parwich, Tissington and Biggin as well as the hamlets of Alsop, Cold Eaton (surely one of the most undiscovered gems in the county), Newhaven and Heathcote, not to mention the outlying farms and steadings dotted about. Our local MP Sir Patrick McLoughlin joined me for a stint around Biggin on Good Friday and we were royally accosted (in a friendly manner, I should say) as we made our way around the village to end at the very busy Waterloo pub. To my fascination I met the......

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Baronets Diary May 2019 - Features Include, @Chatswoof, Education, Education, Education and more

Each year Chatsworth, on a Monday evening in March, opens its doors to host a drinks party in the Painted Hall to launch the season. Present are the great and the good from all the surrounding local authorities as well as key figures in the tourism industry. Once assembled the Duke of Devonshire gives a ‘State of the Dukedom’ address that not only promotes the activities of the Chatsworth Estate but also features all that is great about Derbyshire and the Peak District. All his staff wore Derbyshire lapel badges in a @Chatswoof show of county unity and we were then treated to a tour of the house alongside the 2019 exhibition inspired by the Duchess’s love of dogs.......

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Baronets Diary April 2019 - Features Include, A New Painting For Tissington Hall and more

Every year I commission a local artist to paint their version of Tissington Hall. Having sold a number of artworks to keep the roof on the house I thought gathering an amalgam of pictures that presented very different views of the property would be a suitable way of refurnishing the walls. Usually I visit the excellent local art exhibition at Buxton Museum to see if I can spot an artist that I like and think can do a great job. This year, just after Christmas, I contacted Rebecca Morledge of Ilkeston and at the beginning of February she produced the most amazing painting. In it Rebecca has shown the village at its very busiest when a wedding has taken place at church, the tearooms are full and the street scene full of hustle and bustle. It’s on show in the library at present before it is hung next to the other paintings by the billiard room staircase. Why not come and view it on one of our open days this season?......

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