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The Baronets Diary April 2024

It is not often that 42 existing and potential High Sheriffs turn up at our home but that is what happened in late February when we entertained the East Midlands Regional Conference for all High Sheriffs in the area. The day consists of the present High Sheriffs( nearing the end of their respective ‘Year’) explaining the highs and lows of their experience as well as giving insights into lessons that they have learnt in the role over the past twelve months. After lunch in the Carriage House provided by Etwall based chef Mark Hadfield we were given presentations by groups that had benefited from their relationships with the High Sheriff : The Royal School for the Deaf, Foston Prison and a crime reducing effort from Buxton Police all featured as the future incumbents learnt all about the value of the Office. In Derbyshire Ian Morgan is to be installed as our  next incumbent at a ceremony at the cricket ground in early April. I shall report about his year as I prepare for my turn in 2025.

The annual Royal Shrovetide Football celebrations were a triumph this year. I attended both lunches this year ( one intentional and one by default) as the Leisure Centre was fit to bursting as the Tuesday and Wednesday turner-ups revealed their hand painted balls and prepared to take the walk to Shawcroft before starting the famous game. All the rain in recent weeks meant that the fields were saturated and  play was furious and muddy. The culvert by Compton made for more exciting  but cramped play and plenty of players needed a change of kit during the afternoon. On each day a goal was scored, both times for the Uppards at Sturston so the Downards have now gone three years and six days’ play without a goal! They will be keen next year to redress that balance. It is now twenty years since I had the honour of turning up the ball and since it was not scored it was returned to me and hangs resplendently in our home as a symbol of our great game. 

Once again the clamour grows for more green energy in our country. I have done my bit on the Estate with nine small solar systems scattered around the village and on the farms. This has not been without hassle as we were refused solar panels on the rear of Herbert’s Tearooms by the planning department of the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) back in 2012 although we subsequently won an appeal ( at great cost I should add) and now the energy benefits both our visitors and  staff at our award-winning tearooms. Regular walkers around our countryside will recall the two turbines just north of Parwich on a dairy farm and I would comment that the PDNPA were against that renewable proposal and the application was only approved by a slender majority at committee. I would have loved some turbines on the Estate but again the planners were against us. We have now installed heat pumps at two properties that are more energy efficient but the quest is on to ‘green’ the Estate but we desperately need the planning department to positively back us.

In the office we get frequent requests to use the Hall as a backdrop for filming. Over the years we have been visited by location managers looking for that perfect setting for their feature film. However, they also visit Chatsworth and Haddon up the road  and ,sadly for us, they pick one of those two marvellous houses. This year an enterprising film student from Derby University approached us to shoot his final year film at Tissington.  The amiable Wilf McKie,  has written a short piece which he labels ‘a gothic suicide fable ‘ and is set in a stately home. Entitled Iris Mortem  the film follows Lizzie, an existentially depressed woman resolving to end her life prematurely, spending her final days as the guest of a mysterious caretaker and butler of a distant Manor House as her remaining family seek to change her mind. The film hopes to premier at QUAD in Derby and I will report back with more detail after the three days of filming.

Our family is nearly 900 years old, In 2025 we will celebrate the granting of the Manor of Norbury to William, son of Herbert in 1125. Presently I am negotiating with our Catholic cousins, the Fitzherberts(spelt with a small h) from Swynnerton in Staffordshire about a weekend of festivities in the Midlands in May 2025. Last time, in 2005, we celebrated 880 years and over 150 FitzH/herberts joined us at both Estates. We plan to host just as many next year and I will keep you updated on our exciting plans.

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