The Baronets Diary

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

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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Baronets Diary February 2019 - Features Include, Tribute To A Marvellous Lady, Carols By The Fire and more

It is not often that one is selected to give the address at a funeral but I had the privilege to be told on her death that Ruth Jordan had requested me. Ruth was 92 when she died in December and was a very special lady. I first met her 20 years ago when our chief guides David and Fran Holt, brought Ruth to an induction day as we opened the Hall for the first time in 1998. Ruth had a penchant for reading but a greater desire for history and took to the task of escorting visitors around the house immediately, giving a commentary that was second to none. She researched our family to great lengths and ended up giving amusing talks about the ‘FitzHerberts and Tissington’ at WI meetings and to history societies around the East and West Midlands. A Land Girl in the Second World War, she had been involved in various commemorations including meeting the Countess of Wessex at a tree planting at the National Memorial Arboretum. It was an honour to give my tribute of this marvellous lady in front of her family and friends at the celebration of her life at St Chad’s, Longford. We will miss Ruth. May she rest in peace. .........

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Baronets Diary January 2019 - Features Include, A Criminal Offence, Our Star Reader and more

For the first time in the 30 years that I have been at Tissington I have just experienced a real case of serious fly-tipping on the Estate. Whilst we have cleared away two burnt-out cars, detritus from passing lorry drivers and huge amounts of casual litter, it was a shock to get a call from the keeper saying that he had discovered a load of used car parts in a field next to one of his pheasant pens. The execution of the deed had taken place in the middle of a Monday night/Tuesday morning and was located about 500 yards from the nearest road down a muddy track near to a silage field. Our local environmental health officer trawled through the mess, discovering many London addresses but I fear that will be where the search ends! The council were not liable as it was located on private a criminal offence land and so I had to pay for two skips and Ben’s time to get rid of it, totalling the best part of £600. As I say this was Tissington’s first instance of blatant fly-tipping, I hope it will be the last!.........

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Baronets Diary December 2018 - Features Include, Old Friends, On Target and more

By the time you read this we will have opened our Christmas event for the two final weekends of November and the first in December. This year we are turning Tissington Hall into the fantastical world of Neverland with Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook, The Lost Boys and that crocodile… What has exercised David Walker and his magnificent team most in dressing the Hall is: how large a cannon can you put on a pirate ship? The galleon that is The Jolly Roger carries Hook and his dastardly shipmates around the islands in the story but should the cannon be the size of a loo roll tube or rather bigger? On a walk in the fields with the dogs Fiona and I happened upon the much heavier bigger cardboard rolls that serve the wrapping on silage bags! To my mind these were much more the howitzer-size that I had envisaged on this plundering seafaring vessel! Come and see what we second star to the right... did and transport yourself to the world of JM Barrie’s 1911 novel.........

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Baronets Diary November 2018 - Features Include, Judgement Of Wessington, Derbyshire Day and more

It is not often that I am asked to act as a wine-tasting judge in a small tent in a mowed orchard in Wessington late on a Sunday afternoon in September… but that is exactly what I was invited to do by wine buff Barry Lewis for his ‘Judgement of Wessington’! The session was to blind taste a selection of champagnes and English sparkling wines in order to contrast, compare and collate the best in the business – such is the rise in the popularity and consistent quality of English viticulture. Barry had gathered a crack foursome of local connoisseur Will Armitage, Jean-Claude Schmitt (the French, independent wine merchant and owner of The French Wine People in Matlock), Andrij Jurkiw (Derbyshire resident, wine reviewer and writer for Great British Wines), and me (a wine merchant prior to my inheritance). Faced with 14 wines to sample, we set about our task with alacrity and excitement. The wine that came out top was the 2004 Chapel Down Pinot Reserve from Tenterden in Kent.........

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Baronets Diary October 2018 - Features Include, Forbidden fruit, Back on track and more

The Hall guides and I have always explained that the original structure, built in 1609, was joined to a secondary building (known as the Servants’ Wing) around 1902 as per drawings that have survived by architect Arnold Mitchell. There is a plaque on this wing, which we now call the Staff Wing, that I recently had restored by Middleton by Wirksworth stonemasons L Petts & Son. The restoration has revealed an interesting Latin inscription stating the edifice was actually built in 1811. This is fascinating as it reveals that the grandiose building schemes on the Estate were mostly taking place in the early 19th century as the Victorian baronet took over. Now 200 years of weather and grime have been removed and the stone is legible again.........

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Baronets Diary September 2018 - Features Include, Sending out an SOS, Open Mic and more

The theme of one well at this year’s Well Dressings at Tissington has attracted the attention of one of the nation’s greatest naturalists and braodcasters. Yew Tree well’s design was based around the pollution of the seas by debris and waste, even featuring plastic bottles at the bottom. It was picked up on, through social media, by a researcher on Sir David Attenborough’s programmes who forwarded it to Sir David himself. Sir David kindly wrote to the designer, Sarah Allen, saying that he hoped his programmes had inspired the people who created the dressing. His letter is now framed and in pride of place at her home. This year we were delighted to welcome over 30,000 visitors to our celebrations and the teams are already looking forward to next year when Ascension Day takes place at the end of May.........

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