Sunday, 15 March 2009

Holt, Who Goes There?

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?

12 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

Beautiful, especially those stables and the clock tower and cupola. But how closed-up it all seems - all those shuttered windows and shut doors. As if the look-out man had seen someone approaching and, recognizing you by the trizers, swiftly put up the defences before you turned up and proposed another film.

Thud said...

I like the fact it's in private hands again...regardless of the owner.

Ron Combo said...

Quite right Thud. Thank God the guvurnmunt didn't get its incompetent hands on it and turn it into some ghastly civil service bombproof trouser recovery and outreach centre.

Peter Ashley said...

Watch it. The trizers, as Wilko has them, went to Oxford for tea yesterday, their first run out. What a turn up.

Diplomat said...

I have very fond memories of visiting Nevil Holt winter '69 to play rugby in a perishing North wind and the ground as hard as hell. This followed by a cold shower and a warm tea of sausage beans and chips, unable to grip the knife and fork and problems seeing the food through the tears. Marvelous stuff.

Peter Ashley said...

Oh Diplo, how sad. More ghastly prep school stories anyone?

Circe said...

Dear Peter,

I love your blog... I am a new follower!

PS I've tagged you on my blog... I know it may seem a bit "sudden" but it is spring, after all! ;)

I know everyone would be captivated by your responses, if you should choose to play...

Circe

Peter Ashley said...

Hello Circe! All are welcome in the Unmitigated church. Wet umbrellas should be left in the receptacle provided in the porch, where you will also find the Flower Rota.

Jill said...

How did the trousers hold up? What shoes accompanied them? Oxford, eh ?- a suitable baptism.

Jon Dudley said...

Blast! (as Wyndham Lewis had it) - cross addressed again. For Jill, read Jon.

Peter Ashley said...

Hi Jilljon. That Oxford kit in full: One pair herring bones, one pair navy box felt braces, white collarless shirt, one pair highly polished brown Holland & Holland shooting boots. I wanted to wear my black bowler, but got taken to one side by Tess of the D'Urbervilles with a warning glance.

Jon Dudley said...

Now it's too late to spot the galleon mistake... I shall just luxuriate in the image of your good self striding around Oxford so stylishly clad. A gold and ivory collar stud casually left undone...?