Derbyshire County Council's Master Plan for Elvaston Castle Country Park.
Some of you may have read the article entitled " Master plan reveals county council's trust in private group to run and revamp the castle" in last Saturday's March 10th Derby Evening Telegraph which outlines the latest proposals to make the park self sustainable & off set the annual running costs which are said to stand at £700,000 per annum along with the estimated repair bill of £6.4 million. It was t...his financial burden which triggered plans by Derbyshire County Council to hand over the management of the park recently to a new charitable trust.
The latest proposals to boost income include-:
A new visitor centre with a café, shops, office space and education room plus a new adventure playground.
Moving the show ground and main visitor carpark from their present location to a field north of the castle near St Bartholomew's Church along side an overspill carpark and opening up more areas of the park for weddings and large events which would mean these areas would be occasionally cordoned off.
A new access route off the A6 Shardlow Road junction with the Thulston roundabout is proposed which would cut through fields between oak Flat & Elvaston Cricket Club to give better access and the former kennels converted into 10 new houses with access via Church drive, along with two further homes on the former saw yard.
Other proposals include converting the upper floors of the castle into short term holiday lets as well as long term leases, and the downstairs rooms for larger events.
Other areas such as the caravan site are also under discussion by the council.
The general public' views on these proposals will be sought by the county council & the new trust in early May but we, the Friends of Elvaston would like your views on them now, especially the proposed plans for converting the kennels into 10 new houses and the saw yard into two more dwellings. Should this be allowed on an historic and very beautiful country park, we await your comments?
The Reason for the lack of Litter bins in the Park.
A little while ago I was asked by two of our readers the reason for the recent lack of litter bins around the park. Apologies for the delay in answering this query but I am happy to say I have now received the following explanation from Mrs Gill Forrester Park Manager.
" With a much reduced staff ( 50% less staff than 6 years ago) and the development of a garden maintenance & management plan ( following external consultation...) which focuses on the preservation of the historic significance of the estate, we are gradually working towards a reduction in bins on the site.
Rubbish that is generated from purchases on the site - the Information centre & shop, tea rooms and ice cream van can be returned to those outlets and is recycled where possible. However, visitors bringing picnics, barbeques and other items that produce rubbish that needs to be disposed of are asked to take it home with them, just as they would if they were visiting other areas of the countryside where bins are not provided.
Bins, however often they are emptied are unsightly, can smell, attract wasps and vermin and can be dangerous to wildlife.
To empty bins vehicles are necessary, compromising visitor peace & safety, as well as causing visible damage and compaction which in turn compounds already poor drainage conditions and the health of veteran & historic trees.
All remaining bins take dog waste, and disposable nappy bins are provided in the park's toilets"
Could this be one of the Elvaston Ghosts caught on camera?
It was taken at 7.30am on Saturday 6th January by Kevin Michael Eaglesfield who would like an explanation for this image he caught on camera in the vicinity of the castle.
The 'Hall of the Fair Star' A Gothic Dream Created by a knight for his Lady.
In 1831 the 4th Earl of Harrington set up home in Elvaston Castle with his former mistress Maria Foote who was now his wife By all accounts they were totally absorbed in each other to the extent that the Earl would not allow Maria outside the grounds, nor anyone in apart from the dozens of gardeners & workmen who were employed to turn the Earl's dream of a Gothic inspired shrine to the love of his li...fe into a reality.
Lewis Cottingham was commissioned to redecorate Wyatt's original entrance hall which was then renamed by the Earl as the 'Hall of the Fair Star'. With its now elaborate vaulted ceiling, its walls and doors painted in all the colours of heraldry, with motto's such as gallantry, courtesy and love on every surface, and with lances, swords and suits of armour decorating its walls and niches this Gothic extravaganza stood as a symbol of a knight's love for his lady.
Photographs 1) The very plain double doors leading into the Gothic Hall. 2) The niches in the wall which would have contained suits of armour.3) A glimpse of the vaulted ceiling 4) Heraldic painting covering a door. 5 & 6) close ups of two of the heraldic panels; the first one situated over a doorway leading from the Gothic Hall.7) The Gothic Hall as it would have looked in its heyday.
A Elvaston Christmas prior to World War I.
With Christmas just around the corner I recently came across this snippet in a book called 'Charley's Tale, The Story of an Elvaston Lad 1895-1920' by Charley Garratt who, from the age of sixteen and a half was in service to the Harrington family as a third footman cum odd job man up until the outbreak of the First World war.
In this excerpt from his book Charley recounts his memories of Christmas as a child living in Elvaston, and ...of the generosity of the Earl of Harrington to the inhabitants of the three villages that made up the parish,
" Poor as we were, Mother and Father always made Christmas the highlight of the year for the family. Every year until the outbreak of the First World War- August 14th 1914 the Earl of Harrington had a bullock fattened up for Christmas. This was slaughtered and cut into pieces by the butcher Billy Smith assisted by Wal Booth the estate workers foreman, and my father. The joints of beef were then distributed to all the residents of the villages, Elvaston, Thulston and Ambaston, one pound of meat for every man, woman and child."
Charley's father also got a yearly gift from a good customer of his in the form of a ham, ten pounds in weight, which his mother boiled in the fire-heated boiler." A wonderful cook* Charley says that not only did she prepare a Christmas dinner " fit for a king" but made everything from a Christmas cake & mince pies to jellies, trifles and "much more"
With no television to keep people occupied seasonal entertainment was supplied by the children. Charley and his brother and sisters, all gifted with good voices, sang carols, and played games such as Postman's Knock, Blind Man's Buff, Mary Sits A- Weeping, Paddy From Home, Turn Trench and Charades etc.
Boxing day was a repeat of Christmas day with food, games plus entertainment from the children, but was spent next door with Grandma and Grandad, their family of three girls and six boys and their respective families. Charley describes the sleeping arrangements as "being like sardines" with the boys head to tail on the peg rug in the kitchen covered up with old coats and the like, and all the girls upstairs in one room in each house. It must surely been a huge relief when all the relatives returned home the day after Boxing Day.
Photograph - Charley Garratt( 1895- 1991)
Elvaston Castle's Ancient Yew Trees.
We all appreciate Elvaston Castle's beautiful grounds but perhaps not many of us realise the importance of what they contain.
Elvaston Castle Country Park contains over a thousand English Yew trees aged between 150 & 300 years old with many having been transplanted as mature trees between 1830 & 1851 by Elvaston's famous head gardener William Barron. Because of this and because Elvaston is one of the few places to have a cultivar named aft...er it (Taxus Baccata Elvastonensis or Golden Yew) it has been deemed a unique landscape by the Ancient Yew Group.
In Britain, as in many other European countries, the Yew has become an important part of out heritage due to the cutting done of many Yew forests in medieval times for suitable timber for long bows.
In 2006 the Friends of Elvaston were privileged to host a visit by Tim Hills from the Ancient Yew Group. Tim, has for many years, travelled the country compiling a gazetteer of Yews to ensure that they receive protection and cataloguing, and sees Elvaston as a very special place. Therefore I think that it is important that we, as visitors to the park play our part in the conservation, of not only these grand old Yews, but all the trees by treating them with the respect they deserve, which I am sure most people do, by avoiding any act that would cause damage, either to their root systems or to their trunks and branches.
Photographs 1&2 show some of Elvaston's Yew tree & their exposed root systems, which have over the years become exposed and are now venerable to damage.3 & 4) The' Moors Arch' as it is today & as it looked maybe 100 years ago.5&6) William Barron's tree moving machine in action, & a model of the machine.
The Wonders of Nature in Elvaston Castle Country Park
By kind permission of photographer Stephen Anthony O'Donnell.
These lovely photographs were taken by Stephen Anthony O'Donnell earlier this year and illustrate a little of the scenery as well as the animal & bird life that can be seen in the park.
A tribute to all those who died in 'The war to end all wars' through the story of one young soldier Daniel Canty.
Born in 1893 Daniel Canty was the 8th of 10 children of Irish parents John Canty and Mary Clinch . Daniel was eight when they moved to Elvaston where his father became night watchman at the castle and the family took up residence in a cottage on the estate.
In 1915 Dan, as he was known, joined the Derbyshire Yeomanry and in April of that year, along with his pal C...harley Garrett, was sent to Alexandria in Egypt in preparation for the Dardanelles campaign. In August 1915 the Derbyshire Yeomanry embarked on the troop ship SS Haverford where they were briefed and told " some of us may not come back" After landing in Sulva Bay in mid August they waded ashore under enemy fire and dug in. From here they were then deployed to the front line where they suffered numerous casualties and Dan contracted dysentery and jaundice. He was evacuated to Alexandria where on October 6th 1915 he died of his wounds and dysentery aged just 22 years.
Photographs - 1) John Canty, Daniel's father who was night watchman at the castle 2) Daniel's mother Mary Clinch.3) John Canty & sons. Daniel is the figure on the left standing 4) The war memorial in Elvaston commemorating those from the parish who died in two world wars, and on which Daniel Canty's name can be seen.
Important Notice to all our Facebook readers and supporters of the Friends of Elvaston Castle.
Could those members of the public wanting to either join the Friends of Elvaston, offer their services in a practical way or simply get an answer to a question they may have, from today please contact us through our Facebook Page rather than our website which is now closed. The decision to close our website has been taken, not only to prevent duplication of information but to enable us to reach a greater number of our supporters.
Sandra Hull, Vice Chairman, Friends of Elvaston Castle
The Dean Family of Derbyshire Blacksmiths and the 'Romance of the Old Smithy at Alvaston.'
Derbyshire blacksmiths were among the first in the country to face the need for changes in the industry to meet the slump in the use of horses. Their old occupation had been largely wiped out and they had to include other ways of making the business a paying proposition. Many of them added Derbyshire crafts to their operations such as wrought iron work and motor repairs.
It seems this s...hrewd business tactic was also adopted by the Dean family of blacksmiths at their Alvaston smithy, as in an interview for the Derby Daily Telegraph in 1936 77 year old Mr David Dean Jnr explained that most of his living now came from ornamental work and showed the reporter a small horseshoe the size of a half penny that was ordered by the thousand and sold by a firm as souvenirs.
It was Mr Dean's proud recollection that when Edward, Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII, visited Derby in 1928, he was invited to be presented to the prince and prepared a special horseshoe to give to him. He also proudly recounted being invited to be present the previous year when the Duke of Kent had visited Derby. and spoke of the Dean family having shod horses for all levels of nobility and of having worked as blacksmiths to the Elvaston Estate since the year 1875.
In a previous article dated January 1934 and entitled "Romance of the old Smithy at Alvaston" It was said that Mr David Dean was one of the best known local smiths at Alvaston, and that the forge there, thought to be at least 200 years old at the time dated back to the days when highway men held up the stage coaches at pistol point, and when journeys of over 20 miles were adventures.
Lying on the main road to London the smithy was relatively busy and Mr Dean recalled in years gone by shoeing bullocks in the days when they travelled by road from Birkenhead to London.
Photographs -!) Mr David Dean Senior (1827-1918, .2) His son John Newton Dean (1854-1933) & family 3) John Newton Dean with horse. 4) Elvaston Castle's blacksmith's shop.( Not the Alvaston smithy as I have not managed to find either a photo of it or an illustration)
Faces from the Past
Below are a small collection of photographs of some of the many estate workers and indoor servants that were employed at Elvaston Castle in the middle to late 1800's & early 1900's.
1) Viscount Petersham ( centre) later to become 11th Earl of Harrington with some of the young grooms in the castle's carriage wash and ? sheep dip circa 1930....
2 & 3) John Newton Dean (b)1854-(d)1933) and his father John Dean (b) 1827-(d)1918) who were Blacksmiths to the Elvaston estate.
4) Mr Neville who was valet at the castle in the 1870's
5) Samuel Brookfield (b)1876-(d)1969) Butler at Elvaston Castle. He was married to Elizabeth Winn who in 1917 was housemaid at the castle.
6) Charley Garratt (b)1895 who prior to the outbreak of WW1 was 3rd footman cum odd job man at the castle.
7) Mrs Cook, appropriately named as she was the cook at the castle
8) John Canty who was watchman on the estate in 1915
9.) Mrs Glover known as 'Glover' to all who was housekeeper at Elvaston Castle in the 1930's
Lady Mary Stanhope's shoes
These beautiful 17th century shoes ( circa 1660) are part of the collection of the Northampton Shoe Museum and are said to have been worn by Lady Mary Stanhope, wife of the second Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston who died in 1638. After his death she went on to marry Parliamentarian Sir John Gell whose first wife had been the daughter of Sir Percival Willoughby of Woollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire, and whose mother, on the death of her husband and Sir ...John's father, married John Curzon of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.
However this unlikely alliance with the widow of Sir John Stanhope who was one of Gell's Royalist enemies lasted less than a year and the couple separated in 1648.It was said that he only married Lady Mary to destroy the glory of her former husband and his house, and as a parliamentary commander during the English Civil War revenged himself by destroying Stanhope's monument which cost £600.
The shoes, seen below are made of blue velvet embroidered with silver gilt thread. Originally the latchets would have been tied across the tongue with possibly a gold ribbon. They would have been made for a special occasion which took place after the restoration of Charles II in 1660.
Photograph - Lady Mary Stanhope's shoes.
More Autumn Events at Elvaston Castle Country Park -
Elvaston's Eerie Adventures. Sunday 29th October 10.30 - 3pm.
Turn up at any time.
Come and join us, if you dare ! Explore the spooky fun on offer in the grounds of Elvaston Castle ( watch out for the zombie gardeners). Visit our Pumpkin Parlour and have a go at carving a pumpkin to take home. With creepy crafts, haunted tales and tricks and treats included, we promise plenty of fiendish family fun!
Length - 1 mile Equipment - Come in spooky fancy dress with suitable footwear. Cost - Children - £4 per Eerie Adventure trail sheet. Additional charge for pumpkin carving/ other activities
Elvaston Parish Council.
The Elvaston Parish Council was formed in December 1894 with the Earl of Harrington becoming its first chairman and six local villagers were elected committee members. These were William Slack and Peter Clayton to represent Elvaston, Ralph Bullock and John Locket Ambaston, William Riley Thulston and Charles Sewell.
The first meeting was held on Saturday 15th December at 6pm. Mr Severn was elected vice chairman, Mr Coxon Clark for the parish at a sa...lary of £10 per year and Mr Porter to be Surveyor of Highways at a salary of £5 per year The cost of meetings by March 1895 totalled £1.11.11d. Meetings were held three or four times a year until 1963 when they began to be held on the second Monday in the month.
Originally the venues had been the old vicarage at Elvaston and the village hall, Thulston, but in 1967 it changed when the old school house Elvaston was purchased by Mr Joe Hutchinson on behalf of the parish.
Care of the parish has been a major item on the council's agenda sine its conception over 100 years ago. Paths and fences & the buying of gravel for pathways in its early days, to the long battle of against gravel extraction causing, among other things, the loss of the Elvaston Castle estate. Thankfully the danger to the estate has now passed due to the intervention in 1969 of Derbyshire County Council & Derby Corporation buying the castle & 390 acres of land from Needlers Development Company for the establishment of a country park.
Photograph - The old school house, Elvaston