Best of British Flair and Engineering

Lining up for the Ecurie Ecosse Parade at the Goodwood Revival
Lining up for the Ecurie Ecosse Parade at the Goodwood Revival

The best of British flair and engineering was celebrated at the 2017 Goodwood Revival. The international reputation of this annual automotive festival demonstrates the vision, professionalism and attention to detail of the Earl of March and his team, which keeps the motor racing enthusiast at its heart.

Shipley Arts Festival Director and motor racing enthusiast Andrew Bernardi
Shipley Arts Festival Director and motor racing enthusiast Andrew Bernardi

Last week I found myself in the excellent company of fellow motor racing enthusiast and Director of the Shipley Arts Festival, Andrew Bernardi. As we sampled the hospitality and Goodwood Ale in the GRRC VE tent we were transported back in time. The sound of happy voices competed with the bark of racing engines on the Lavant straight. Our spirits weren’t dampened by Friday’s wind and rain which added to the drama of this historic circuit.

As I made my way over the Sussex Downs early on Saturday morning the sky had softened with scudding clouds and the odd flash of blue. I was looking forward to the racing and seeing the Ecurie Ecosse Parade. The 60th anniversary of the Ecurie Ecosse win at Le Mans in 1957 was being celebrated at this year’s Revival. This plucky team with its Scottish blue and white racing livery first won Le Mans in 1956. Driver Ron Flockhart won again for them in 1957, this time with co-driver Ivor Beub. The tiny outfit took on the might of Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin to win under the leadership of the Edinburgh wine-merchant, accountant and gentleman driver, David Murray. The reliability of his D-type Jaguars won Ecurie Ecosse the race, testament to the best of British engineering and flair.

Designers Oliver and Alison Winbolt at their Splined Hub Jaguar stand
Designers Oliver and Alison Winbolt at their Splined Hub Jaguar stand

‘Over the Road’ I ran into my old friends and fellow motoring enthusiasts Oliver and Alison Winbolt. Oliver has had a remarkable career in international automotive design and engineering and has worked for many leading marques including McLaren and Mercedes. He is one of a cohort of talented automotive engineers and designers who emerged from the Sussex firm International Automotive Design (IAD) in the 1980s. Today he restores and rebuilds classic Jaguars for the discerning enthusiast. His firm, The Splined Hub, is based in Oundle, Northamptonshire but it is clear that he is delighted to return to Sussex. Their stand is a beautiful piece of set design which matches the drama of the Goodwood Revival with two exquisite customer E-Types and a Mk II saloon on display.

I am glad that the Goodwood Revival celebrates the motoring enthusiast whether they are participants or spectators, as well as the best of British automotive engineering old and new!

As the smell of Castrol and the noise and drama of the motor racing fades from the Sussex autumn landscape we set out for home reliving the excitement of the weekend in our conversations and imaginations.

To contact Oliver Winbolt go to www.thesplinedhub.co.uk. For more information on Goodwood’s motor racing events and to register for updates on the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival go to www.goodwood.com.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

2017 Plough Match and Agricultural Show

Robert Jameson’s steam winched plough
Robert Jameson’s steam winched plough

This week I am in the company of Rowan Allan. We meet as Rowan prepares for the 2017 West Grinstead Annual Plough Match and agricultural show, which takes place this coming Saturday 16th September 2017 at Weston’s Farm, Itchingfield, Nr. Horsham, RH13 0BD.

Rowan Allan of H.J. Burt
Rowan Allan of H.J. Burt

Rowan Allan is a partner at the land agents H. J. Burt at Steyning and Henfield and has been the Honorary Secretary of The West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society for nineteen years. As a Chartered Surveyor and a Fellow of the CAAV he has strong professional and personal links with the rural and agricultural community in Sussex. He explains that H. J. Burt has been associated with the Society and show since 1887 and says “The show seeks to honour and learn from the past whilst looking confidently to the future. It’s a shop window to enjoy and learn about the countryside whether that’s farming or country pastimes. We keep an eye to the past so that an older generation can show off their skills and trades that otherwise would be lost.”

I

Lamb handling classes at the show
Lamb handling classes at the show

comment that it can sometimes seem that life in the countryside is increasingly misunderstood by those living in towns. Rowan responds “We put on lots of activities like the young lamb handling classes at the show. They are an opportunity to connect those of us living in towns with the rural way of life.” The Society seeks to educate and make apparent how important the vital work of the farming and rural community is to our nation. Horsham’s MP, Jeremy Quin, is President of the Society this year. It is a hopeful thing that Mr Quin clearly understands that Horsham is at the heart of a rural community.

This year’s show is being hosted by David Exwood at Weston’s Farm. David started with just a 100 or so acres and now farms more than 1500 acres. His success is down to his skill, resolve, hard work and the remarkable relationship he has built with Christ’s Hospital as a tenant farmer over many years. It is exciting to witness patronage like this of rural life and farming. David’s sons, Tom and Fred, have grown up on the farm. Tom is now working in the farming world and Rowan acknowledges the importance of looking beyond the current generation to the future.

It is fitting that David Exwood and his team have been voted the overall winner of the ‘2017 Best Farmed Farm over 500 Acres’ by the Society in this strongly contested category. It is one of many awards made by the Society every year in support of farmers.

The Society works tirelessly throughout the year to bring together, encourage and support this generous rural community and they deserve our thanks.

Ian Williams and his plough team in action
Ian Williams and his plough team in action

This weekend the ploughing match will be supported by displays, competitions, merry-go-rounds, traction engines, livestock shows and handling sessions – so much to delight the family. I hope to see you there!

The 2017 West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society Annual Ploughing Match and Country Show is going to be a fantastic family day whether you are from town or country. Entry is just £6 per person with no charge for children under 14. For more information contact Rowan Allan at H. J. Burt through www.hjburt.co.uk or go to www.westgrinsteadploughing.co.uk.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Back to School

An early photograph of pupils on the train to Christ’s Hospital
An early photograph of pupils on the train to Christ’s Hospital

Those of us with children have been reliving that back to school feeling this last weekend and sharing memories as uniforms and books are laid out in preparation for the new academic year after the long summer holidays.

Shared stories bind communities together. Christ’s Hospital’s story is encapsulated in its traditions and history and preserved in its museum, art and collections. The museum’s current exhibition ‘Christ’s Hospital in the 20th Century’ charts the school’s history during the last century and has been curated by Laura Kidner.

The interior of Christ’s Hospital School’s museum
The interior of Christ’s Hospital School’s museum

Christ’s Hospital can trace its history back to 1552. Edward VI’s role as patron and founder was enshrined in a Royal Charter shortly before his death in 1553. It is said that the young monarch was inspired to help the poor of London by a sermon given by the then Bishop of London.

The 20th century saw dramatic change for Christ’s Hospital. In 1902 it moved from its cramped London site, where it had been for some 350 years, to its current rural campus near Horsham.

My eye is taken by a photograph in the exhibition. There is little sign of a back to school feeling in the faces of the boys on the train, rather they express anticipation and excitement as they set off for Christ’s Hospital Station, perhaps for the very first time.

An earthenware figure of a Christ’s Hospital boy modelled by Harry Parr, circa 1929
An earthenware figure of a Christ’s Hospital boy modelled by Harry Parr, circa 1929

Also on display is a rare earthenware figure modelled by Harry Parr in Chelsea in 1929. It depicts a Christ’s Hospital boy wearing the famous Bluecoat uniform. The uniform has changed little since Tudor times. The long blue coat, belted at the waist is worn with matching knee breeches, yellow socks and white neck bands. It is still considered an important part of the school’s history and heritage by the students. The uniform is given to all students reflecting the school’s earliest history when clothes for the children of Christ’s Hospital were provided by the people of the City of London.

Today’s Christ’s Hospital is in many ways unique offering an independent education of the highest calibre to children with academic potential from all walks of life. It is a child’s ability and potential to benefit from a Christ’s Hospital education that determines their selection not their ability to pay. The Christian character of the Foundation and School has remained a constant in the life of Christ’s Hospital for over four and a half centuries. These values are at the heart of our nation.

For more than a century Christ’s Hospital has added to the richness of the Horsham District and remains a working school dedicated to preparing young people to flourish and contribute to our society in a changing world.

Laura Kidner is to be congratulated on this excellent exhibition. For opening times and more information on ‘Christ’s Hospital in the 20th Century’ contact the Christ’s Hospital Museum at chmuseum@christs-hospital.org.uk or telephone 01403 247444.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Perfect Sussex Indian Summer Destination

The Italian Garden at Borde Hill
The Italian Garden at Borde Hill

As September approaches the change of season always seems to bring an Indian summer to Sussex and where better to enjoy this last burst of light and warmth than Borde Hill gardens.

This week I am in the generous company of Borde Hill’s current custodians, Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke and his wife Eleni.

The gardens at Borde Hill were first laid out by Andrewjohn’s great grandfather, Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke. He purchased the house and land in 1893. Between 1893 and 1937 he sponsored many of the Great Plant Collectors’ expeditions. They returned with rare specimens brought back from their travels in the Himalayas, China, Burma, Tasmania and the Andes. Many of these plant species are still at the heart of the collection which make up the seventeen acres of formal gardens.

This spirit of adventure is still apparent today. Eleni, a geologist and trained horticulturalist, admits that it is the gardens which most inspire her. She says “This has always been an experimental garden, a place to try new plants. Borde Hill is constantly changing and looking to the future.”

We pause in front of a new vibrant border filled with colour, texture and movement as Eleni enthuses “People love colour today.”

Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke in the Rose Garden at Borde Hill
Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke in the Rose Garden at Borde Hill

The established gardens, too, are constantly being renewed. We find Andrewjohn in the Rose Garden admiring a David Austin Summer Song rose which is a particular favourite of theirs. The colours of the roses are resplendent as though in a painting and to the fore is a wonderful carved Portland stone sculpture, titled Rose Bud, by the artist Will Spankie. For many years the gardens have been complemented by an annual exhibition of contemporary sculpture. All the work is for sale and the sculpture trail adds life and fresh perspectives to the gardens.

Rose Bud sculpture by artist Will Spankie in the Rose Garden
Rose Bud sculpture by artist Will Spankie in the Rose Garden

We come upon the timeless Italian garden. The summer clouds are reflected in the water amongst the lilies with such depth that it is as though the sky and the water are united. Andrewjohn and Eleni’s vision and attention to detail have brought new life to the disciplined symmetry of this garden. You can for a moment believe that you are in a little bit of Italy.

The lives of Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke are bound to this place and the gardens in a very personal way. Their forward looking stewardship ensures that the past is valued and preserved but that the gardens are constantly evolving and changing in a very contemporary way.

Borde Hill’s gardens bless you. As you walk your conversations cannot fail to be informed by the beauty of the place. And there is plenty to inspire the keen horticulturist whether it’s the rare species, the subtle effects of the planting, or the floral compositions before them.

Borde Hill Gardens is the perfect Indian summer destination. The gardens and contemporary sculpture exhibition remain open until 2nd October 2017 at Borde Hill Gardens, Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 1XP, For more information on opening times and forthcoming events go to www.bordehill.co.uk or telephone 01444 450326.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Perfect Bank Holiday Destination

‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies
‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies

The 2017 Arundel Gallery Trail coincides with the Arundel Festival. More than 150 artists are exhibiting this August Bank Holiday weekend in over 65 venues in and around Arundel.

The opening of ceramic artist Josse Davis’ exhibition has, for me, become synonymous with the start of the Arundel Gallery Trail.

A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis
A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis

I catch up with Josse and his partner, Melissa Alers Hankey, in the Duff Gallery as they put the finishing touches to the exhibition. My eye is immediately taken by a large blue and white stoneware jug by Josse Davis. Its beautiful baluster form bears testimony to the skill of this talented potter. Titled ‘The Art Class’ it is wittily decorated with a nude surrounded by artists and their canvases. Josse shows me how he has painted the nude on each of the artist’s canvases from its own perspective. I comment on how these vignettes add to the scene’s playful narrative. Josse responds saying “I like to think my work makes people smile.”

Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel
Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel

Josse Davis has exhibited at the Arundel Gallery Trail every year since it began. He comments “I notice how people who came more than twenty-five years ago are now returning with their own young families talking about when they bought their first figure or pot as children”.

A display of raku ware running rabbits is sure to be a favourite with children and adults alike. With prices ranging between £15 and £50 they are an accessible way to start to collect Josse’s ceramics. Each rabbit is individually modelled with its own name. Josse says “I add the eyes last – it gives them such life.” Melissa says “Their character isn’t fully revealed until they come out of the kiln.” Raku ware acquires its crazed appearance as the molten glaze cools suddenly and it shatters.

Josse’s father, the artist Derek Davis, started The Arundel Gallery Trail with a small group of other artists. Each year the Derek Davis Prize is given in his memory. The recipient is voted for by their fellow artists exhibiting in the gallery trail. In 2016 the prize was awarded to Josse Davis.

Josse Davis’ reputation as a ceramic artist is in the ascendancy and his prices are rising with his signature pieces selling for between £400 and £800.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is open 2.00pm to 5.30pm during the week and 12 noon to 5.30pm this Bank Holiday weekend. It provides art lovers with direct access to leading Sussex artists like Josse Davis and their work. For more information on exhibiting artists and this celebration of Sussex as a centre of art go to www.arundelgallerytrail.co.uk.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.