A Gardener’s Delight at Arundel

Arundel Castle

It is a perfect English spring morning, bright and crisp, as supporters of the Sussex Heritage Trust gather in the Collector Earl’s garden at Arundel Castle.
We are greeted by Castle Manager, Andrew Lewis, and Arundel Castle gardeners Rose Philpot and Izzy McKinley.

Arundel Castle gardener, Rose Philpot, The Collector Earl’s Garden

We set out in the company of Rose Philpot and are met by lines of apple trees covered in soft pink blossom amongst a carpet of blue camassia and tulips. The naturalistic planting frames the views of the castle. Rose explains “We lift the tulips in the borders and the pots but leave them in the grass areas. We’ve planted tens of thousands of bulbs and tulips!” The spectacle is breathtaking. It is apparent that this talented young gardener is also a gifted plants woman as she effortlessly guides us through the planting. She constantly refers to Head Gardner, Martin Duncan, and her respect for him quickly becomes apparent.

We pass a stumpery and box cloud hedge which leads us gently downhill to the award winning Stew Ponds. About four years ago Martin Duncan redesigned the historic stew ponds at Arundel Castle. Using the original framework of ponds, in which the Castle and Friars would have kept fish for eating in stews, it has been given new life with a naturalistic quality. The emphasis is on wildlife attracting insects, butterflies, bees and wildfowl. The Duke of Norfolk and Arundel Castle were delighted to receive the Sussex Heritage Trust Award for Gardens and Landscape in 2020. As we arrive at the stew ponds Rose points out the award which is proudly on display.

The award winning Stew Ponds at Arundel Castle

Rose explains how the boathouse you see in the distance was designed by Martin. The timbers were sourced sustainability, mostly from the Estate’s woodland. In the gentle breeze the dance of light on the ripples of the pond is reflected in the naturalistic planting as a Swan glides across the water.

Returning to the Collector Earl’s gardens we come across the water feature which is exotic and unexpected. Rose points out a series of pots overflowing with tulips as she recites the varieties – “Tulipa Angelique, Mount Tacoma and Blue Diamond”.

Rose’s story is hope-filled. She discovered her passion for gardening on work experience in the castle gardens. She volunteered and worked in the gardens whilst she trained at Plumpton and was eventually offered a full-time job. Her career is progressing at Arundel and she has been given responsibility for looking after the stumpery, herbaceous, Round House and cut flower gardens which she speaks about with a real sense of ownership and a gardener’s delight.
The Sussex Heritage Trust’s work is important in promoting best practice in our county’s built environment and landscape whilst encouraging and supporting talented young people into careers in conservation, building and horticulture. To find out more about the work of the Sussex Heritage Trust and Arundel Castle’s extraordinary gardens visit sussexheritagetrust.org.uk and arundelcastle.org.

Designing for the Future

The Medieval Shop from Horsham, conserved by the Weald & Downland Museum in 1967 when Middle Street was redeveloped, and The Market Hall from Titchfield

The 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards launch at the Weald & Downland Living Museum marked the official call for entries for the 2019 awards.

For more than 20 years the Sussex Heritage Trust has been recognising and celebrating the best conservation, restoration and new build projects across Sussex through its annual awards. Its reputation continues to grow under the leadership of its trustees, its Chair, Dr John Godfrey., DL and Vice-Chair, Simon Knight., DL. John Godfrey has spent more than 40 years in public service in many charitable and professional roles including local government, and as the former Chief Executive of the Sussex Police Authority. Simon Knight, a Director of Savills based at Petworth, brings a lifetime’s experience as a Chartered Surveyor specialising in rural estate management and working with the built environment. He enthusiastically describes his professional life as vocational.

From left to right Simon Knight, Rupert Toovey and John Godfrey at the launch of the 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards

I catch up with John and Simon as the 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards are launched in the Weald and Downland’s beautiful, award winning Gateway Project buildings.

John Godfrey explains how the main focus of the Trust’s work remains the annual Sussex Heritage Trust Awards, encouraging the public’s appreciation of the architectural and natural heritage of our beautiful county.

The Trust’s work in providing a strategic voice to preserve and develop the built environment and landscape of Sussex has become increasingly important. It works with government agencies, local authorities, community and heritage groups.

Sussex Heritage Trust, in conjunction with the Weald & Downland Museum, also provides educational opportunities for young people based in West Sussex through bursaries funded by the Historic Houses Association.

John Godfrey welcomed sponsors, judges, past award winners and friends of the Sussex Heritage Trust including the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Harry Goring and the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls.

The Trust has brought together a remarkable community of businesses and individuals in support of its work. John Godfrey particularly thanked headline sponsors of the awards, Gatwick Airport, as well as Thesis Asset Management and Toovey’s who sponsored this year’s launch.

I am always excited by the way that the Trust seeks to promote the conservation and re-imagining of our existing vernacular architecture and its uses, as well as aspirational design and sensitivity for new buildings and materials. They celebrate the past whilst embracing the future.

2018 saw a record number of entrants. The deadline for entries for the 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards is the 28th March 2019.

To find out more about the Trust’s work, how to support it and how to enter for the awards go to www.sussexheritagetrust.org.

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.

A Sussex Postcard Collector

A Homewood postcard of the Post Office at Battle in Sussex
A Homewood postcard of the Post Office at Battle in Sussex

The Brian Stevens Postcard Collection provides a remarkable insight into the topography and social history of the county of Sussex.

The collection reflects Brian’s fascination with the postcards published by Arthur H. Homewood. Arthur Homewood ran his successful stationers business in Burgess Hill between 1885 and 1919.

A Homewood postcard of Victoria Gardens, Burgess Hill

The belle époque of postcard sending was between 1899 and 1914. At the height of this craze, a reported average of more than 723,000 postcards were sent every day. Each card was delivered the following day and all for a halfpenny a time. As people posted cards they also started to collect them. With an estimated 264 million postcards delivered in a year, it is no surprise that photographers and publishers popped up in towns and villages across the British Isles to cash in on this boom.

Due to Post Office regulations, postcards started out smaller than the familiar size most of us would recognise today. These ‘court-size’ postcards were only allowed to have the address on one side, so any message would have to be shared with the publisher’s image. In 1902 the Post Office changed their rules, allowing for the more traditional postcard size. At the same time a dividing line was introduced on the reverse, allowing space for the address and, for the first time, a message too, freeing up the entire front for a pictorial design.

A Homewood postcard of Glynde Station in Sussex

Homewood was a keen photographer and businessman and quickly realised the opportunities of the booming demand for postcards. Brian says “Between 1903 and 1918 Arthur Homewood published a large range of topographical picture postcards. Apart from a few depicting the Kent and Surrey borders the rest were of Sussex.”

Homewood visited Amberley, Findon, Billingshurst and the villages around Horsham but he seems to have concentrated on the towns and villages in mid-Sussex and East Sussex. Brian explains “He would meet with competition from other local photographers which would decide whether or not it would be viable for him to stay or move on to the next village.”

A Homewood postcard of Gardeners at Parkyn’s Manor in Hurstpierpoint

Homewood published printed and photographic postcards. His photographic postcards provide an accurate and unedited view of our country’s past – familiar scenes, now changed, and social history a century ago. Take for example the scene of the Post Office at Battle beside Hunt’s tea room, the watch makers and the George Hotel, or the gardeners mowing the lawn at Pakyns Manor at Hurstpierpoint.

Postcard collector, Brian Stevens
Postcard collector, Brian Stevens

The Brian Stevens Collection of Homewood postcards reflects this remarkable collector’s specialist knowledge and passion for his subject. It will be offered for sale by auction at Toovey’s, Spring Gardens, Washington, West Sussex, RH20 3BS on Tuesday 10th July 2018.

If you would like more information on the Brian Stevens auction or advice on postcard collecting you can contact Nicholas Toovey by telephoning 01903 891955 or emailing auctions@tooveys.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.

Celebrating Art, Heritage and Community in West Sussex

The High Sheriff of West Sussex with Jeremy Knight and some of the volunteers at The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery
The High Sheriff of West Sussex with Jeremy Knight and some of the volunteers at The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery

Last week I accompanied the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard, as she visited the ‘William Blake in Sussex: Visions of Albion’ exhibition at Petworth House and The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, celebrating art and heritage in our county.

Lady Emma is the current custodian of Parham House and is passionate about art and heritage in West Sussex.

I explain to Lady Emma how excited I am to see the National Trust daring to put on an exhibition of national importance which speaks of, and is displayed in, the context of William Blake’s story here in Sussex. She agrees and congratulates Andrew Loukes, the National Trust’s exhibition manager and curator in Petworth, on this jewel like exhibition and his work. ‘William Blake in Sussex’ is the sixth in a series of annual exhibitions curated by Andrew directly relating to Petworth’s remarkable collections of art and to Sussex.

In an age when our nation is in danger of losing her historic, diverse regional identities with homogenised housing and High Streets it has never been more important that we keep alive the unique characteristics and stories of our nation’s counties, towns, countryside and historic houses.

The High Sheriff of West Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard, with Andrew Loukes at Petworth House
The High Sheriff of West Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard, with Andrew Loukes at Petworth House

As we explore the exhibition Andrew Loukes weaves together the central threads of William Blake’s art and writing with the formative time that this revolutionary artist spent in Sussex, connecting the artist’s work with our landscape and the lives of his patrons and friends.

We journey from Petworth through Sussex villages and countryside to Horsham’s Museum & Art Gallery in the Causeway.

Under Jeremy Knight’s leadership the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery has become one of the most visited art and heritage attractions in West Sussex. His reputation and the exhibitions he puts on continues to attract the attention of the Tate Gallery and other national institutions. The Horsham District Council’s continued commitment to the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery is deserving of praise. Jeremy has had an enormous influence on the promotion of culture and heritage across the Horsham District.

In the museum he balances the public’s appetite for art with an ability to display our local social and economic history in creative and unique ways. Trades and shops now lost to Horsham and the District are recreated with real windows into bygone workshops and businesses.

Jeremy Knight is a modern antiquarian; passionate about the use of objects in telling stories from our past. He stands against the current concerning trend of removing objects and labels from our nation’s museum displays.

Jeremy has been the curator at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery for thirty years. He explains to Lady Emma how vital the volunteers are to the success of the museum. He says “We have over sixty volunteers ranging in age from nineteen to nearly ninety – they work on everything from gardening, to making fittings for exhibitions, cataloguing, researching collections, digital recording and local history, as well as guiding.” The quality of community amongst the volunteers and their fond respect for Jeremy quickly comes to light in their conversations with the High Sheriff as they gather in the museum’s library and she celebrates their work.

Our visits highlight the importance of generous, long-term leadership and service, in preserving the history and art of our county, qualities which Andrew Loukes and Jeremy Knight both share.

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.