A Very English Country House

The Amberley Blue sandstone of Parham House caught in the spring sunlight
The Amberley Blue sandstone of Parham House caught in the spring sunlight

Parham House and Gardens are amongst the most beautiful in all England. There is a confidence and ease in the gentle English taste expressed in its interiors, collections and gardens.

I approach Parham from Storrington following the long drive through undulating parkland with grazing deer. The house sits confidently in the Sussex landscape and is bathed in the cool, early spring sunlight.

Parham is a fine example of an Elizabethan H-plan house centred around the Great Hall with its tall mullioned windows. The house is predominately constructed from local sandstone known as Amberley Blue beneath the Horsham stone roof.

As I arrive Lady Emma Barnard greets me. There is an atmosphere of excited preparation as the annual opening on Easter Sunday approaches.

Lady Emma’s great-grandfather the Hon. Clive Pearson, a gifted mechanical engineer, bought the House and Estate in 1922 with his wife Alicia. Lady Emma reflects “They found Parham in sad repair and together they revived and restored the house with great sensitivity for the long-term.”

The Pearsons furnished the house with wonderful collections of fine portraits, furniture and textiles, often searching out pieces formerly from the house or relating to its history. With its limed oak panelling and large windows, there is an airy, light feeling to the Great Hall, Long Gallery and many other rooms.

They also installed electricity, plumbing and heating. Lady Emma remarks “Thanks to them it’s still a really comfortable home – in fact the boilers my great-grandfather put in in the 1920s have only just failed.”

Lady Emma Barnard and the South Front at Parham
Lady Emma Barnard and the South Front at Parham

Lady Emma is uncomplaining as she explains how it has been a chilly winter at Parham whilst the boilers and heating were replaced and restored.

There is a processional quality to the family’s life and stewardship at Parham which embraces and celebrates the past whilst looking confidently to the future.

I remark that a house and garden like Parham carry with them a weight of history and tradition which demands a particularly keen sense of duty and service from its custodians. Lady Emma replies “It is a way of life but we love this place, being here and sharing it with others.”

As I say goodbye we walk through the house and into the grounds to find the handsome South Front complimented by beds of red tulips.

Whether you are visiting for the first time or returning there is always something to discover and delight at Parham.

I am looking forward to visiting Parham after taking part in the Easter Sunday celebrations at St Mary’s, Storrington with a service of Holy Communion followed by an Easter egg hunt. The service starts at 10am and all are welcome.

Parham House opens this Easter Sunday 21st April 2018 at 2pm and the Gardens at 12pm, closing at 5pm. For more information go to www.parhaminsussex.co.uk or telephone 01903 742021.

Parham House & Garden is the perfect Easter treat. I hope to see you there!

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.

Celebrating Heritage and Arts in West Sussex in 2018

From left to right: Toovey’s Director, Nicholas Toovey, artist, Humphrey Ocean., RA, and Jeremy Knight in conversation at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery

As 2018 draws to a close it provides a moment to reflect on what an exceptional year it has been for Heritage and the Arts in West Sussex and to look forward to 2019.

West Sussex is blessed by its rich history, culture and artistic offering which is made possible by the inspiration, dedication and hard work of a number of key individuals.

The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery’s reputation continues to grow under the leadership of Jeremy Knight whose outstanding contribution to heritage and the arts was marked this year with a High Sheriff’s Award. This growing reputation attracted the attention of the Royal Academy in its 250th anniversary year and the artist Humphrey Ocean., RA. The Horsham District Council’s continued commitment to the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery is deserving of praise.

Sheep handling at The 2018 West Grinstead Agricultural and Ploughing Match Show

The West Grinstead Annual Plough Match and agricultural show celebrates the work of our farmers and their important contribution, through their stewardship of the countryside, to our county’s rural landscape. At the heart of the Society which runs it is its Honorary Secretary Rowan Allan of H. J. Burt. He has spent his life celebrating and professionally supporting the work and life of the countryside.

Parham House and its gardens are amongst the most beautiful in all England. Lady Emma Barnard is the house’s current custodian and celebrated 70 years since her family first opened the house in 1948 to share it with the public. This generous tradition continues today.

The high point of this year’s Shipley Arts Festival for me was the world premiere of the Shipley Psalms at Steyning Parish Church. The inspiration for this commission came out of a conversation between myself, Andrew Bernardi and the composer Malcolm Singer. We were discussing the American composer Leonard Bernstein and his choral work, The Chichester Psalms. This new commission was made possible by the generous patronage of The Shipley Arts Festival and Mr John Snelling.

These artistic, cultural and heritage threads preserve and add to the evolving identity of our county and its rich tapestry of life in town and country.

My brother Nicholas and I are delighted that through Toovey’s we have been able to play a part in bridging these artistic and heritage communities together, adding weight to their vision and work, whilst also offering financial support and professional advice.

These individuals along with so many others are deserving of our thanks. They enrich the quality of our lives whilst contributing enormously to our economy through the visitors and businesses they draw to our county.

I am looking forward to celebrating with you the best artistic, cultural and heritage events our county has to offer in 2019, and wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year.

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.

Nation’s Passion for Gardening Celebrated at Parham

A garden view at Parham
A garden view at Parham

Parham’s Garden Weekend is celebrating its 25th anniversary this coming weekend.

For me this quintessential celebration of our passion for gardening is one of the highlights of the Sussex summer calendar, thanks to Parham’s long gardening tradition and the national reputation of Head Gardener, Tom Brown.

Over the course of the weekend there will be garden tours, talks and demonstrations from leading experts. The Secrets of Head Gardeners session will be a particular highlight with the South’s most celebrated Head Gardeners including Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter, Troy Scott Smith from Sissinghurst, Sarah Wain from West Dean and Parham’s Tom Brown in conversation.

It’s a measure of Tom Brown’s reputation that many of the country’s leading horticulturalists, gardeners and designers choose to congregate at Parham for the Garden Weekend year after year.

Alongside all these events visitors will discover some of our leading nurseries.
It is the relational quality of this festival of gardening which never fails to delight me – passionate and knowledgeable people coming together at Parham to share their experiences and love of gardening.

Tom Brown, his garden team and volunteers, will once again be out in force to offer advice and to interpret the garden for visitors. It is rare for the public to have such unmediated, direct access to horticulturalists of this calibre.

The gardens themselves are exquisite. The swathes of summer flowers seem to dance in the gentle breeze framing the garden’s paths. I love the stillness that gathers you in the walled gardens at Parham. It transports you, separating you from the busyness of life. To create a garden of this subtlety, depth and beauty requires a sensitivity to place, light, the elements and the seasons.

A dog’s eye view of Parham’s celebration of gardening

Sheltered by the warm hues of the old brick garden walls covered in lichen these gardens have a remarkable ability to gather and engage people. Families find a gentle place to wander in conversation, their time in the garden informed by the beauty around them. Keen horticulturists will pause to explore the subtleties and effects of the planting, colour and compositions before them. But whatever your approach you cannot fail to walk in this beautiful place without being moved by it.

This generous and outward facing spirit pervades all that Parham does and at the heart of it are Lady Emma Barnard and her husband James who, together with their sons, bring such life and vitality to this timeless place. Their patronage and stewardship blesses us all.

I am looking forward to Parham House and Garden’s ‘25th Anniversary Garden Weekend’ this coming Saturday and Sunday, 7th and 8th July 2017, 10.30am to 5.00pm. For more information go to www.parhaminsussex.co.uk or telephone 01903 742021. I look forward to seeing you there!

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.

 

Parham – the Perfect Place to Celebrate Easter

Parham House bathed in the spring sunlight
Parham House bathed in the spring sunlight

As you approach Parham through the soft folds of her parkland landscape this fine Elizabethan house reveals herself in a timeless and welcoming way.

It is five years since I wrote my first column and I am returning to where I began. I love revisiting this remarkable place and today I am rewarded by the sight of Parham’s stone walls glowing in the light of the first spring sunshine of the year. The house sits comfortably in the landscape against the backdrop of the Sussex Downs.

There is an excitement in the air as Parham’s team busy themselves with the final preparations before welcoming the first visitors of 2018 this coming Easter Sunday.

Lady Emma Barnard in the Long Gallery at Parham

I am greeted by Lady Emma Barnard whose home this is. She is following in the footsteps of her grandparents and her Great Aunt. Emma explains “My grandparents, Clive and Alicia Pearson, fell in love with Parham as soon as they saw it. The house was in a poor state when they bought it. They spent a lot of money during the 1920s and ’30s carefully restoring this fine Elizabethan house. They installed electricity, plumbing and heating and thanks to them it’s still a really comfortable home today.”

Parham with its beautiful rooms and collections is no ordinary historic house but a home which gathers its visitors in a generous and unique way thanks to Lady Emma’s particular qualities. Together with her husband, James, Lady Emma has brought up her two boys here and the family’s fondness for this place gives it real life.

Clive and Alicia Pearson at Parham in 1956

“I love it when the visitor season and first opening approaches” Lady Emma declares. She continues “Clive and Alicia opened Parham to the public for the first time in 1948, not out of need but out of a genuine desire to share their home with others. I’m delighted that 70 years on Parham continues to welcome visitors in the same spirit.”

We set out to see how the preparations are progressing and pause at the top of the house in the light filled Long Gallery with its wonderful ceiling. Lady Emma explains that the ceiling was put in by the Pearsons in the 1960s. There were no historical records of the Elizabethan original so they commissioned the theatrical artist Oliver Messel to design it.

I remark that a house and garden like Parham carry with them a weight of history and tradition which demands a particularly keen sense of duty and service from its custodians. Lady Emma replies “It is a way of life but we love this place and being here.”

In the grounds to the south of the house, beyond the ha-ha, is St Peter’s Church where I will be taking the Easter Sunday service of Holy Communion this year. It starts at 9.15am and all are welcome. The church remains open all day.

Parham House and Gardens open this Easter Sunday 1st April 2018 at 2pm and 12pm respectively, closing at 5pm. For more information go to www.parhaminsussex.co.uk or telephone 01903 742021.

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.

Celebrating 140 Years of St John Ambulance

From left to right: Lady Fiona Barttelot, Caroline Lucas, Lady Emma Barnard, Katie Holmes, Peter Field, Maureen Chowen, Quenelda Avery, Trevor Moss and Liz Harper celebrating St John Ambulance in Sussex in the Great Hall at Parham

From left to right: Lady Fiona Barttelot, Caroline Lucas, Lady Emma Barnard, Katie Holmes, Peter Field, Maureen Chowen, Quenelda Avery, Trevor Moss and Liz Harper celebrating St John Ambulance in Sussex in the Great Hall at Parham140 years of the St John Ambulance tradition was celebrated at their 2017 Sussex Awards. These annual awards celebrate outstanding achievement and service by the volunteers and this year they were hosted by Lady Emma Barnard, The High Sheriff of West Sussex, at her Sussex home, Parham House.

The St John Ambulance Sussex volunteers were treated to time in Parham’s walled gardens before being welcomed by Lady Emma Barnard in Parham’s Elizabethan Great Hall for the awards.

At the heart of the organisation are the Order’s mottos ‘Pro fide’ and ‘Proutilitate hominium’ – ‘For the Faith and in the service of humanity’. As their Sussex Chaplain I offered prayers for the work of the St John Ambulance in Sussex and the Order of St John.

The presentations were led by The Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field, and Lady Fiona Barttelot, representing Mrs Susan Pyper the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex. They were supported in their duties by the High Sheriffs of East and West Sussex, Maureen Chowen and Lady Emma Barnard. The Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex Cadet, Katie Holmes, was proud to be at the heart of the awards together with Sussex County President Caroline Lucas, Chairman, Quenelda Avery, District Manager, Trevor Moss and Regional Director, Liz Harper.

Lady Emma Barnard presenting a Commendation Award to Jean-Pierre Ball
Lady Emma Barnard presenting a Commendation Award to Jean-Pierre Ball

Jean-Pierre Ball was given a Chief Executive’s Commendation Award for exceptional service to our county and St John Ambulance by Lady Emma Barnard.

Amongst the many long service awards were three volunteers, Linda Hickman, Christine McIntyre and John Wright, from the Bognor Regis Unit, who earlier in the evening had delighted in their time in Lady Emma’s gardens.

Long service award winners Linda Hickman, Christine McIntyre and John Wright from the Bognor Regis Unit of St. John Ambulance, enjoying the gardens at Parham
Long service award winners Linda Hickman, Christine McIntyre and John Wright from the Bognor Regis Unit of St. John Ambulance, enjoying the gardens at Parham

The Awards were followed by a garden party in the marquee.

It is remarkable to reflect that St John Ambulance pre-dates the National Health Service by 70 years. A uniformed organisation, its volunteers can be readily identified by the eight-pointed Maltese Cross which they wear proudly.

140 years on St John Ambulance continues to be dedicated to the teaching and practice of medical first aid and the provision of ambulance services through volunteer units rooted in their local communities. There is much to celebrate in their work and they are deserving of our thanks. If you would like to learn first aid, join or support St John Ambulance in Sussex look up your local unit headquarters and pop along.

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.