Back in May, when I was in Ireland, The Landmark Trust celebrated it’s 50th anniversary with a variety of activities and events on a Golden Weekend – the sun even shone! That weekend (16 and 17 May) properties were open to the public, Antony Gormley’s LAND sculptures were unveiled and visitors at all properties were entertained by choirs singing simultaneous performances of An Anthem for Landmark.
I was disappointed to miss this event but in the annual Friends’ mailing I received an invitation to attend “A reception for Friends to include a talk and tour about Shottesbrooke, its church and Landmark’s offices” and the date was to be the afternoon of Friday 26 June. I knew already that I’d be flying out of Gatwick on 18 June and back on 25. So I decided to drive to London, leaving the car at Belsize Park, and drive to Shottesbrooke in Berkshire on the Friday in question.
What a beautiful day it was and how lucky the Landmark Trust staff are to work in such beautiful, rural surroundings. A buffet lunch was spread before us upon arrival; and not long after the first group was assembled to have an introduction to the Estate and its deserted medieval village by local historian David Ford. You can read here his history of the Estate and his entertaining history of the Church.
Spire inspired by Salisbury Cathedral
St John’s Church, Shottesbrooke features in Simon Jenkins’s “England’s Thousand Best Churches” which I’ve mentioned here several times before. “The spire is visible rising over the woods from a distance and is a splendid feature of the landscape.” Inside there are several extraordinary tombs, including the double tomb of Sir William Trussell and his lady with a canopy of eight ogee arches, and “The floors of Shottesbrooke are littered with splendid brasses still in place. one pair, of a priest and a layman of c.1370, has them both in prayer with singularly grim expressions on their faces.”
The Trussell Double Tomb
After visiting the church we were taken across the lawns to view the exterior of Shottesbrooke Park House. It is still owned by descendants of cousins of the Vansittart family who bought the property in 1716, namely the widow and son of Sir John Smith (founder of The Landmark Trust).
Sir John Smith Memorial in the Churchyard
Side View of the House
Rear of House
Following David’s tour we adjourned back to the cottage for further cups of tea and home made cake before being taken to see the anniversary exhibition in a barn, to offices in farm out-buildings and the Landmark main offices in the former farmhouse.
Welcome to the Exhibition
A Display Table
To be published soon!
The Director of The Landmark Trust, Anna Keay, then welcomed us and thanked us for our support before going on to tell us about two properties that are opening this year (Belmont at Lyme Regis and St Edward’s Presbytery at Ramsgate) and future projects. Strawberries and cream were served to round off a wonderful afternoon. Friday was the start of a weekend of festivities and receptions at Shottesbrooke including a Director’s Lunch for Landmark Patrons on the Saturday and a big anniversary celebration on the Sunday to which all staff including housekeepers and gardeners were invited.
Carousel Fun on Sunday!