OUR coach set off soon after 11am on Saturday, April 16 in pouring rain but we
OUR coach set off soon after 11am on Saturday, April 16 in pouring rain but we were mindful of the fact that the weather was set to improve at precisely 2pm when we had entry to the Thenford estate of Lord and Lady Heseltine.
Our first stop was for lunch at the New Inn in Middleton Cheney, where the barn had been prepared for us and we had two very helpful waitresses.
After a few problems with computers we all got our meals and snacks and the last of us started to enjoy the grounds at 2.20pm.
The sun shone, the sky was blue and finally we were able to enjoy the elegance and beauty of the 70 acres that our hosts call home. We explored the 18th century walled garden, having gone through the gate where two elephants stand guard and you can see the aviary with birds mostly from Australia.
Next was the stunning Rill with its many fountains that cascaded with a waterfall on to four levels, the medieval fish pond area and the lake with its stunning sculpture,
Another area was full of sculptures and among several interesting bronzes was a granite “injured elephant”. Very sad. As you walked round the arboretum you could see that most of the trees and shrubs were labelled.
The area is looked after by six full-time gardeners.
Our hosts were around, as promised, and Lord Heseltine posed for a picture with me in the walled garden.
The final hour of the afternoon was spent dodging the showers by having tea in the magnificent Old Hall Barn, which is all that remains of Thenford Hall.
The hall was partially demolished in 1760 and stands in the grounds of Thenford House.
Lastly, we visited the small but beautiful St Mary’s Church with its hotch-potch of architectural styles.
It is known that this building is certainly more than 700 years old and it contains the tomb of Fulk, who was Lord of the Manor and died in 1613. The chancel dates from the 14th century and the poor box is considered to be 15th century.
John Tooley, a parishioner who has a framed plaque hanging on the wall, bequeathed £4 yearly to the parish and to this day that investment has meant that at Christmas pensioners of the parish, widows and young people starting out on a career are all given “a decent sum of money”.