St Mary's Christmas Newsletter 2017
over some 50 years, Peter Thorogood has brought together one of the
largest collections of first editions, autograph letters, pen-and-ink
sketches, and ancillary material, besides a large amount of research
material relating to the Victorian poet, Thomas Hood (1799-1845) and, this
year, has founded The Thomas Hood Society. Enquiries to The Thomas Hood
Society, St. Mary’s House, Bramber, West Sussex BN44 3WE.
BRITISH PILGRIMAGE TRUST
St. Mary’s lies on the pilgrim route along the South Downs
from Southampton to Canterbury, known as ‘The Old Way’ ((1350 AD), in
existence before Chaucer’s route along the North Downs. The map is named
after its 18thC owner, Richard Gough, who had presented it to the Bodleian
Library in Oxford. Bramber is mentioned as a place of sojourn along the
In May we were visited by Dr. Guy Hayward and Will Parsons
of the British Pilgrimage Trust, with a view to organising events for
their members. A surprising number of pilgrimages are now being organised
all over Europe. Participants can come from any or no religion. The
principal aim is spiritual fulfilment - through walking and talking,
communing with nature, singing songs together, and enjoying a new kind of
At the end of July, a group of 37 weary young ‘pilgrims’
walked along the Downs from Chichester Cathedral to Arundel Castle, thence
to Storrington Priory and on to the medieval pilgrim inn of St. Mary’s,
with the purpose of sampling the crystal-clear water from the now viewable
holy well. The walkers were accompanied along the route by a Radio4
reporter (From Our Home Correspondent). Further scientific tests
are being conducted for the water’s purity and content by a specialist
firm. Subsequently, a short film on the subject was made by the
well-known TV presenter, Dan Snow.
HRH PRINCESS ALEXANDRA VISITS ST MARY'S May
watch the video
St Mary’s House and Garden had the honour of welcoming HRH Princess
Alexandra of Kent on Tuesday 30th May to meet some 45 loyal volunteers who
have contributed their time and energies in helping to keep this
nationally important Grade I house open for the public benefit. Her
Royal Highness was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs.
Susan Pyper, accompanied by Marine cadet, Sgt. Kurt Smith. Mr Tom
Crowley, Chief Executive, Horsham District Council, was then presented.
Owner-custodians, Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton had the great pleasure
of taking the Princess on a personal tour of the fine historic rooms. The
Princess expressed considerable interest the various family collections
and many exhibits. She was fascinated by the variety of fine panelling,
especially the unique ‘Painted Room’ with its unique trompe l’oeil
murals painted for the visit of Queen Elizabeth I.
beautiful Victorian music room, Her Royal Highness then presented Long
Service Awards to eight volunteers in recognition of their support for St
Mary's during the last thirty years. She was both gracious and charming,
and her natural manner put everyone at ease, speaking to each recipient in
Princess then moved outside to the Jubilee Rose Garden, where she paused
to see the appropriately chosen Princess Alexandra of Kent roses
and a special commemorative tree, Acer Palmatum shadeshojo, planted
in her honour.
time all the remaining volunteers had assembled in the newly-planted
‘King’s Garden’, designed by Roger Linton, Curator of St. Mary’s, to
commemorate the escape through Bramber of Charles II on his way to France
in 1651. At the centre of the garden is a sapling ‘grandson’ of the
original ‘Boscobel’ oak-tree in which the king hid after the Battle of
Worcester. The Princess then cut the red ribbon and declared the King’s
Garden open, after which she chatted to each of the 45 volunteers in turn.
a break for family tea in the Drawing Room, HRH Princess Alexandra came
out to the South Lawn, where she was applauded by all the volunteers and
guests who had gathered there for a group photograph. Her Royal Highness
was then presented with a posy by 10-year-old Chloe Whitaker, daughter of
one of the Trustees, and a gift of St Mary's honey by Vanessa Timms. Peter and Roger thanked the Princess on everyone’s behalf for all her
encouragement and support. Peter Thorogood said “we have had many
memorable moments during our thirty-two years at St Mary’s, but this Royal
visit has been without question the highlight”.
ST MARY'S 'HIGHLY
COMMENDED' IN SUSSEX HERITAGE TRUST AWARDS
Mary's has won a prestigious 'Highly Commended' award in the Sussex
Heritage Trust Awards 2016 for the Landscape Water Garden. The
award was given in recognition of the rescue of a previously abandoned
wild scrubland area of the Victorian garden, where it was noted there was
fine grove of white poplars, and the continuation of the natural character
by introducing a large pond with an island refuge for birds. The award was
presented to the garden designer, Roger Linton, and Peter Thorogood by
Lord Egremont in a ceremony at Pangdean Barn, Pyecombe, on 7th July.
ROOM RESTORATION June 2016
Music Room restoration was completed ready for the start of the 2016
This splendidly restored
room is our wonderfully elegant venue for
concerts, weddings and other functions, which play a vital role in helping to keep
this remarkable Grade I building open for public benefit.
The St Mary's Historic House & Gardens Charitable
Trust still continues its work in raising much-needed funds for the
ongoing preservation and maintenance of the house and gardens.
NEWLY-RESTORED VICTORIAN GLASSHOUSE OFFICIALLY OPENED
long-awaited opening of the restored Victorian Glasshouse at St Mary’s
Historic House and Gardens Bramber took place in May on a bright spring
day. Caroline, Lady Egremont, of Petworth House, declared the glasshouse
officially open on Thursday 19th May in front of an
enthusiastic team of volunteer gardeners and visitors. Before the opening
Lady Egremont was taken on a tour of the splendid five acre gardens by
curator and garden designer Roger Linton.
Caroline Egremont is a distinguished
in her own right, widely known for her
outstanding restoration of the magnificent and enchanting walled gardens
at her home, Petworth House. In 1998, she graciously accepted the
invitation to become Patron of the St. Mary’s Bramber ‘Lost Gardens
Appeal’, which succeeded in raising some £30,000 towards the acquisition
and restoration of the former Victorian kitchen garden.
Lady Egremont said after the opening of the Glasshouse: ‘It
was a lovely day and I was very impressed with all that you have done at
St Mary’s over the past years.’
St. Mary’s House & Gardens shortlisted for 'Best Hidden Gem' in Hudson's
Heritage Awards 2016 Nov 2015
shortlist for the renowned 2016 Hudson's Heritage Awards has been
announced. Established in 2011 the Hudsons' Heritage Awards are an
independent scheme judged by an expert panel chaired by Norman Hudson OBE.
The winners and highly commended will be presented at Goldsmith's Hall in
London on 1 March 2016.
In the Best
Hidden Gem category, the finalists are: Winterbourne House & Gardens,
in Birmingham; Keats House, London; Painshill Rococo Gardens, Surrey; and
St Mary's House & Gardens. Other categories are: Best Family Day
Out, Best Eating Out, Best Shopping, Best Accommodation, Best Loos, Best
New Discovery, Best Wedding Venue, Best Event/Exhibition, and Best Picnic
celebrate the best visitor experiences at heritage attractions in the UK
each year, including historic houses, heritage gardens, museums, galleries
in historic buildings, archaeological or industrial sites and other places
associated with the past.
Of the finalists
Sarah Greenwood, publisher of leading heritage guide Hudson's Historic
Houses & Gardens, said "We are thrilled to announce our shortlist and
look forward to revealing our winners next March. The Hudson's Heritage
Awards recognise all aspects of historic properties and gardens which make
a visit memorable and enjoyable. Our finalists this year have all excelled
in their field, providing a high quality experience for visitors."
St. Mary’s House & Gardens wins 'Highly
Commended' in Beautiful South Awards for Excellence 2015/16
Mary’s House & Gardens has been awarded ‘Highly Commended’ in the
prestigious Tourism South East 2015/16 Beautiful South Awards. St Mary’s
was up against fierce competition, with more than 120 entries in 16
categories, out of which 62 finalists have been chosen from the cream of
the South East’s tourism businesses.
Nigel Smith, Chief
Executive of Tourism South East, said, “It’s been
an exceptional year for Beautiful South Award entries and great to see so
many from businesses that haven’t previously entered. It is a reminder of
the fantastic range and quality of tourism businesses in the South East
which are more than a match for any in the UK. Some are truly world class.
The judges have again had the unenviable and difficult task of deciding
which of these businesses deserve to be recognised as the best of the
best. I understand that some very fine businesses narrowly missed the
The Highly Commended Award is a significant
achievement, and is particularly appropriate as owners Peter Thorogood and
Roger Linton have this year completed 30 years of restoration.
St. Mary’s House & Gardens wins 'Best Restoration' in Hudson's Heritage
Awards 2011 Dec 2011
categories included ‘Best Education/Community programme’ - winner Burghley
House, ‘Best Garden’ – winner Exbury Gardens, ‘Best Art Collection’ – winner
Compton Verney, and ‘Best Corporate Venue’ – winner Farnham Castle. St. Mary’s
House & Gardens was voted winner for ‘Best Renovation’.
For thirty years owners Peter Thorogood and
Roger Linton have laboured to bring about a
spectacular restoration of the beautiful medieval house and its gardens.
Thousands of visitors over the years have enjoyed the ancient atmosphere of
tranquillity and peace, and have received a warm welcome from its knowledgeable
guides and volunteers.
Having acquired the house in 1984, when it was in a serious state
of dereliction and the gardens a veritable wasteland, it was the vision and zeal of Peter and Roger to save the
building from closure and bring it back into its present pristine state for the
benefit of the public, helped by a loyal group of Friends and a valiant band of
volunteers. Peter and Roger, who have family links with the house from the early
1800s, have succeeded in bringing back the lost Victorian gardens, with the rose
garden, terracotta garden and poetry garden. Their achievement was officially
recognised in 2006 when they each received the MBE from Prince Charles in the
Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours.
Heritage Award for Restoration is a fitting tribute to their courage and
endurance in bringing back to life one of the finest buildings of our national
heritage, described by Sir Simon Jenkins in his book England’s Thousand Best
Houses as ‘a shrine to medieval Sussex’. But St. Mary’s is much more than
that. It is a living monument to a long historical tradition which the Hudson
Heritage Award confirms.