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‘MATERIALITY’ EXHIBITION OPENS AT HESTERCOMBE

An exhibition inspired by the surroundings of Hestercombe will showcase the work of three artists this autumn/winter.

Sarah Bennett, Megan Calver and Philippa Lawrence have been directly engaged with Hestercombe House and Gardens over three years and the resulting exhibition has developed from these experiences.

Materiality: provisional states runs from 10 November 2018 until 24 February 2019 at Hestercombe Gallery and features exhibits using a range of media from photography, sculpture to drawing and text.

Sarah Bennett’s practice investigates institutional sites, both historical and contemporary, in UK and international settings, employing a range of artistic research methods and material processes including: digital recording, facsimile object making, observational drawing, and embodied actions. She is Head of School of Art and Architecture at Kingston University, and chairs educational events in art schools, universities and arts organisations in Europe and the USA.

Megan Calver’s new work is an iteration of her enquiry into expressions of taste and attitudes to perceived imperfections, first presented in a group show at Hestercombe in 2015. Megan Calver’s approach is process-led and for the past ten years she has focused her site-related investigations throughout the South West of England where collaborations with people and places have grown and taken hold.

After a deep study of the Hestercombe landscape, Philippa Lawrence offers works that ask us to perceive things we may have overlooked or not considered, tracing humankind’s activity in managing an estate and nature. Philippa has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, including in America, Japan, Czech Republic, Canada, Iceland and Australia.

Collectively interested in issues related to labour and the management of landscape and nature, Materiality: provisional states aims to examine and critique human and non-human centred activity found in Hestercombe’s past and present. The exhibition stems from archival research as well as ‘Disclosures and Dialogues’, a series of dialogue sessions with artists, curators, historians, academics and garden practitioners.

 

THE RURAL LIVING SHOW 2018

Next weekend – 17 and 18 November – sees the ever-popular Rural Living Show. This annual event has become a firm fixture in the run up to Christmas for those seeking the many unique and exciting items available at King’s Hall School over the weekend. Every year the show includes the work of many craftspeople both from Somerset and further afield – with demonstrations of traditional crafts throughout – basket making, wood turning, lace craft, corn dollies, candle-making – enabling you to buy things which are often totally one of a kind.

On offer will be jewellery, metalwork, glass, pottery, fabrics, paintings, lifestyle, and much, much more. The food marquee is legendary with its fine array of pies, sausages, smoked fish, bread, cakes, chocolates… the list is amazing, and all from local and committed producers

The event’s nominated charity as always is Children’s Hospice South West, who provide support for 400 families from the South West. Their running costs are about £6 million annually.

For younger visitors, there are face painters and a Magic Show on the balcony of the Sports Hall – all for donations to the Children’s Hospice.

The Rural Living Show is on:

17th November: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
18th November: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm
Entrance: £4.00
(Children under 16 free)

www.rurallivingshow.co.uk
rurallivingshow@gmail.com

For more information, ring: 01823 323363

Photo: Blue bird from Blueberry Glass

KING’S CELEBRATES OFFICIAL RIDING LICENCE

King’s College is celebrating becoming a licensed riding establishment after passing the local authority inspection at the end of last month.

The new facility, which is just a few minutes’ drive from King’s College, is proving very popular and the new King’s horses have settled nicely into their new home.

The King’s Equestrian Centre comprises eight boxes in an enclosed yard, and is situated at the end of a quiet lane, well away from any traffic, with easy access onto woodland paths and open countryside, which is ideal for riders of all levels.

Emma Edwards, Head of Equestrian, who is a champion carriage driver and competitive rider herself, said: “It seems to have been a long time in the planning stages but now, at last, we have got the King’s Equestrian Centre open.

“This is a hugely exciting development for us and is already proving itself to be popular with pupils, both from home and overseas.”

GIN MEETS BEER AND THE RESULT IS THE GROUND-BREAKING EXMOOR GOLD GIN

Exmoor Ales was the first brewery to produce a golden ale with Exmoor Gold back in the 1980s, while Wicked Wolf was the first gin-maker on Exmoor. So it seems only right that the two of them have got together to produce the limited-edition Exmoor Gold Gin, the first gin to incorporate in its ingredients a distillation of beer.

The two drinks’ producers are no strangers to one another, having worked together to produce Wicked Wolf, a 4.2% juniper-infused golden ale, released under the brewery’s ‘Exile’ range of beers. This time, though, it is the gin-maker’s chance to take the spotlight with a limited-edition 42% gin.

Pat Patel is the co-founder of Wicked Wolf, which is based in the lush and breathtakingly beautiful Lorna Doone countryside around the village of Brendon. “The idea for both the juniper-infused ale and the gin came from a meeting, which was originally about Exmoor Ales distributing our gin,” he says. “I just thought that as we both wanted to promote Exmoor it made sense working together to produce an ale and a gin.

“For the gin, we take Exmoor Gold and double distil this to create a distillate which is basically a smooth beer schnapps; we then use this as a botanical distillate when blending the gin. Our process for making our gins remains the same, in that we distil each botanical individually, to capture the total range of flavour, then blend to our recipe, giving us a smooth, fuller-flavoured gin.”

According to Exmoor Ales Managing Director, Jonathan Price, “With Wicked Wolf on Exmoor already supplying most of our regular pubs on Exmoor with their gin, it made sense to collaborate. Our head brewer made a joke about an Exmoor beer-influenced gin, which then inspired Pat to experiment with both Exmoor Gold and Exmoor Beast, producing astounding results. Exmoor Gold Gin is the first and borrows the brewery branding…perhaps Exmoor Beast might follow.

“As for the flavour of the gin, it is subtle and beguiling and clearly a gin out of the Wicked Wolf den. There is not the slightest taste of beer, but instead a rich creaminess to the spirit as is the hallmark of the beer. Both distillery and brewery are very pleased with the result and also excited that we can collaborate to produce this taste of Exmoor. Dare I also say, it will make a wonderful Christmas present for the beer and gin connoisseur.”

Wicked Wolf was set up by Pat and wife Julie Heap in 2015. They had met in college in Falmouth and then moved to London and worked in graphic design. During this time they discovered Brendon, fell in love with the village and bought the old chapel, from where they run their design business, also called Wicked Wolf. As for the name, it comes from a pub in London where the couple used to meet.

“When we moved to Exmoor we looked to do something that was about our interests,” says Patel. “I have always had an interest in food and flavours and smoke food as a hobby; cheese and sausages for instance. We also love gin — we have between 30 and 40 bottles of different gins in our collection. So going on to making it was a natural progression.

“We wanted to make a good standard gin where there would be an exemplary balance of 11 botanicals in our unique blend. With this in mind we used dried Seville orange and lemon peel and also added lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, which give a more complex citrusy note. However, the flavours produced by grains of paradise, juniper and coriander, which are traditional gin flavours, remain the backbone of the gin. Business is going well; we have expanded and added an extension for the distillery to increase production. We sell nationally and into Europe and are in talks to export to Asia.”

The company currently produces four gins:
Exmoor Gin, 42%, RRP £35
Full Moon limited edition, 42%, RRP £38
Exmoor Gold limited edition, 42%, RRP £38 (only 1000 have been made)
Silver Bullet limited edition, 57%, RRP £57 (only 300 have been made)

For more details contact pat.patel@wickedwolfgin.com (www.wickedwolfgin.com) or jonathan.price@exmoorales.co.uk (www.exmoorales.co.uk)

KITTY MACFARLANE: ‘NAMER OF CLOUDS’ ALBUM LAUNCH TOUR COMES TO SOMERSET

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, is delighted to be welcoming Somerset singer-songwriter Kitty Macfarlane to perform at the Manor on Sunday 4 November at 7.30pm, as part of a nationwide tour to support the release of her stand-out debut album, ‘Namer of Clouds’. ​

Released only last month, on Navigator Records, the album has already garnered huge acclaim from both the mainstream and folk press. The Guardian wrote, “Her remarkably accomplished debut album beguiles with its poetry and tenderness, and her eye for detail, vivid imagination and bright vocals make it a captivating listen. She is a talent to watch.” Speaking on BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, Mark Radcliffe declared tracks from the album as “Stunningly beautiful – what a production, what a sound”.

Over a few short years Kitty Macfarlane has rapidly risen to become a ‘must-see’ name on the UK folk scene.  While her support appearances on tours with Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, and Blair Dunlop have fuelled her growing fan-base, it was her acclaimed 2016 EP ‘Tide and Time’ that got everyone talking; still in her early 20s, her “impressively mature” (fRoots Magazine) debut album is cementing her reputation as a major talent. Kitty is coming into her own with some remarkable songwriting, a marked empathy with the environment, and a strong sense of place; references to Somerset landscapes, wildlife and folklore pepper Kitty’s music, connecting to her love of the area where she grew up.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills, it provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets are priced £10, with a concessionary price of £4 for children and full time students of any age. Buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

HESTERCOMBE ONE STEP CLOSER TO RESTORATION

The restoration of one of England’s most important historic gardens, the unique Hestercombe Gardens near Taunton in Somerset, is one step closer thanks to a £1.5 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

The NHMF grant has enabled the Hestercombe Gardens Trust to acquire land totalling 320 acres, reuniting the world-class, Grade I registered landscape, gardens and buildings for future generations.

Now returned to its full size, what makes Hestercombe Gardens so important is that it combines four complete period gardens spanning four centuries of garden design.

The newly acquired land includes the site of a rare, early-seventeenth-century Water Garden which it is planned to restore together with other historic features within the park. Planted to its original design, Hestercombe’s Formal Garden is considered the finest example of the famous collaboration between garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens.

The purchase also allows for the possibility of extending the current contemporary art gallery in the house to include outside spaces for the display of art. This will affirm the Trust’s ambition to become a national Centre for Arts & Landscape.

Popular TV gardener Monty Don, who has filmed at the site several times, considers Hestercombe one of his very favourite gardens.

Hestercombe Gardens Trust chairman, Sir Andrew Burns KCMG, said: “This is a tremendous vote of confidence in Hestercombe and recognises Somerset’s leading heritage garden as a site of outstanding national importance. We are enormously grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and our other funders for their most generous and timely assistance in securing the future of Hestercombe for public enjoyment.”

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of NHMF, said: “On a par with Stourhead, Castle Howard and Blenheim, Hestercombe is an exquisite landscape with such an important story to tell in the history of English garden design. This was a once in a generation opportunity to restore it in full and one that we at the National Heritage Memorial Fund felt had to be seized .”

The history of Hestercombe
The Hestercombe estate was sold to The Crown Estate by the Portman family in 1944. In 1961 The Crown clear-felled all the eighteenth-century designed landscape, parkland and woodland for its timber value. This process also drained the lakes and destroyed a number of garden buildings. The statuary from the Lutyens garden was sold off and the Georgian landscape and surrounding woodland were replanted as commercial forestry.

In 1953 Somerset County Council rented Hestercombe House from The Crown to provide a headquarters for Somerset County Fire Brigade. In 1973 Somerset County Council began the restoration of the Formal gardens designed by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, which was awarded a European Heritage Award, the council also purchased the house and formal gardens.

The total cost of acquiring the land, following the Crown Estate’s decision to sell off its agricultural holdings, together with a picturesque gatekeeper’s lodge, which was acquired separately, was £2.7 million. Substantial and generous partnership funding to complete the purchase was received from three private trusts and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Philip White MBE, Founder and Chief Executive, said that: “This had been a remarkable and possibly unique opportunity to put back together a nationally important historic landscape when so many others are broken up, which has been made possible thanks to the vision of Hestercombe’s trustees and its generous supporters.”

The Hestercombe Gardens Trust is very grateful to the leaders of both Somerset County Council, Cllr David Fothergill, and Taunton Deane Borough Council, Cllr John Williams, for their strong support and also to Taunton MP, Rebecca Pow, a long time champion of Hestercombe, who was able to promote the application at a national level.

TOP 100 RANKING FOR THREE ACRES COUNTRY HOUSE EXMOOR

The Visit England Rose Awards 2018 were announced at the Independent Hotel Show in London on Tuesday and one Exmoor establishment was awarded the prestigious accolade of being among the Top 100 accommodation providers in the country.

The national Rose Award is presented to a range of outstanding hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and self-catering establishments, in recognition of their excellence in customer service. Nominations are put forward by Visit England Quality Scheme assessors and selected from assessor comments and feedback from overseas and domestic visitors. Winners are selected by a final judging panel looking for innovation that sets the business apart.

Winners of the title include Exmoor-based Three Acres Country House, a luxury guest house set in secluded peaceful grounds near Dulverton. A family business run by owners Edward and Julie Christian, they are assessed by Visit England who have consistently graded them with the highest ranking of 5 Stars with Breakfast and Gold Awards since 2007.

Edward and Julie Christian commented: “We are delighted that the high standards at Three Acres Country House have been commended because we go to great efforts to provide our guests with a comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable stay on Exmoor. To receive such praise from Visit England, the leading industry body who judge with impartiality, is reassuring both to us and visitors. We are keen to champion the wonders of Exmoor and feel privileged to be in a position to be able to share it with others.”

Three Acres Country House, Brushford, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9AR
Tel: 01398 323730
www.threeacresexmoor.co.uk
Read more:  www.visitbritain.org/visitengland-announces-winners-2018-rose-awards

SALAD DAYS HUT RECOGNISED IN ‘LOVE YOUR HUT’ AWARDS

Following on from previous tourism award, Salad Days Beach Hut at Dunster Beach has now been recognised in the Love your Hut of the Year competition, coming 3rd in the converted national contest, with beach huts at Mudeford in Dorset and Dovercourt in Essex taking 1st and 2nd place.

Run by the Yorkshire-based specialist hut insurance company, ‘Love your Hut’, the competition is open to entries from all kinds of huts including chalets, beach huts and shepherds huts from all over the UK.

“To be ranked so highly in a major national competition is such an honour, but it does also recognise how far the humble beach hut has come since its lowly beginnings as a Victorian bathing machine,’’ said Brett Bates, co-owner of Salad Days (above).

Salad Days has received numerous accolades since launching in 2016 and has been incredibly successful, having being fully booked for the last two years with many guests returning. Previous awards won include: 2017/18 Visit England Dog Friendly Business of the Year, 2017/18 South West Dog Friendly & Self Catering Business of the Year, 2017/18 Bristol, Bath & Somerset Self Catering & Dog Friendly Business of the Year and 2016/17 Bristol, Bath & Somerset Dog Friendly Business of the Year.

The beach hut has also been ranked by Visit England as 5 stars for the last 2 years, the only beach hut to receive this ranking in the UK. It is 1 of around 260 beach huts at Dunster Beach, a large proportion of which are still holiday lets. Traditionally Dunster Beach has welcomed holidaymakers since the 1930s, and Brett Bates and Susan Juggins are continuing this tradition with Salad Days by offering a high standard of accommodation in a quintessential British beach hut. Brett said, “Our new hut ‘Holi Moli’ – due to be available to rent in March –  is intended to follow in the footsteps of Salad Days, but has some big shoes to fit into, we owe it to Dunster Beach to make sure the huts just get better and better, so watch this space.”

All of the entrants in this year’s ‘Love your Hut’ competition can be seen on the @LoveyourHutoftheYear Instagram page at www.instagram.com/loveyourhutoftheyear

THE LOST WORDS A CELEBRATION!

It has been an astonishing year for Jackie Morris since the publication of The Lost Words and Number Seven Dulverton is delighted that she is joining them later this month to celebrate the book’s first birthday.

The illustrations and ‘spells’ that feature throughout this beautiful publication were created very much in partnership when illustrator Jackie Morris and renowned nature writer Robert Macfarlane learned that certain nature words were to be excluded from the Junior Oxford English Dictionary as a result of falling out of everyday use. The response to this stunningly produced, heartfelt publication has been quite astounding, and both Robert and Jackie are overwhelmed by the public’s embrace and desire to keep the lost words of nature very much alive in our children’s vocabulary and landscape.

This enthusiasm has inspired individuals and communities throughout the country to raise funding via crowdsourcing so that copies of The Lost Words can be found in every school library in their region. Somerset has recently been successful, while Devon has recently announced its campaign and joined ‘The Lost Words‘ Movement.’

‘The book was made with love and hope, and I think it has been received in the same way: with hope, with love.’

Jackie Morris


Number Seven has two events planned, the first is to be The Lost Words supper at Loyton Lodge, where Jackie will be joined by composer and folk musician Kerry Andrew who has set two of Robert Macfarlane’s poems, ‘Bluebell’ and ‘Wren’, to music.

The following day, on Thursday 25 October, Jackie will be resident by the fireside in ‘the kitchen’ at Number Seven where she will be painting and signing copies of her books for you, of which there are many, she is quite the prolific creative and has previously illustrated for Carol Ann Duffy and Ted Hughes.

Number Seven highly recommends ordering or reserving copies beforehand to avoid disappointment although of course there will be stock available on the day. Alongside her books, cards, calendars, prints and originals will be available for sale. It promises to be a wonderful, inspiring day and all ages are welcome.

PHOTO Jackie by Christopher Jelley

FUR THE LOVE OF DOGS! KING’S PETS RECEIVE BLESSING IN SPECIAL SERVICE

The pup-arazzi were in full swing last week as King’s College held their annual St Francis Eucharist, a popular service that saw staff, pupils and parents bring their pets to school for a special religious blessing.

The unique ceremony, which takes place at the school every October, is a celebration of St Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of animals. In commemoration, a procession of pets, everything from dogs and hamsters to tarantulas and tortoises, was led into the chapel to be blessed by the school Chaplain, Father Mark Smith.

Commenting on the service, he said: “At one point, I asked the congregation to transfer calm, assertive and loving energy to the animals. Within seconds an eerie stillness descended on the chapel.”

He added: “The blessing of animals is a unique tradition at King’s College and is very popular with the wider school community. Pets are a blessing to every family and our service was, as always, a wonderful holy chaos.”