At first glance it's like coming across a small town, high in High Leicestershire on a hilltop above Medbourne. This is Nevill Holt, and essentially it's just the hall, a vast late 17th century stable block and a church that was as convenient to the household as it's possible to be. Hoskins tells us that there had been a clearing in the woods here since the 12th or 13th centuries, and a manor house was here in 1302. This core was added to by Thomas Palmer, who died in 1474, and additions made by Sir Thomas Nevill between 1591 and 1636. The Papworths had a go in 1830 and it was a country home of the Cunards (the shipping ones) from 1876 to 1912. One can only imagine the huntin' and shootin' parties that went on here. When I first went inside it was a prep. school, which it became in 1919. I was negotiating its presence in a little film we were attempting, and the headmaster stared at me blankly over tea in delicate china cups. Nevill Holt is now in very private hands, bought with the fruits of the mobile phone. But a path runs in front to Great Easton, the views are magnificent and it's always so invigorating, particularly on an early spring afternoon when the only sound is the wind in the trees, or in the summer when the accompaniment is likely to be the 'chock' of willow and leather on the cricket pitch. Stands the clock at half past three, but are there toasted teacakes dripping with hot butter still for tea?
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)