1 September 2000

Moated manor house plays host to Stour Valley group

STOUR Valley, our newest group, entertained the Staffs members in fine style recently with a tour of Broughton Castle, near Banbury, Oxon. Broughton is not really a castle but a moated manor house with a beautiful old medieval hall. Dating from about 1300 and added to in the 16th century with very few alterations since, it is the home of Lord Saye and Sele.

At the time of the civil war the council chamber was used for secret meetings – it is called The Room That Hath No Ears – an ideal place to plot against King Charles I, or in the case of FWC members, to sit and have a rest before going out onto the roof to look down on the magnificent gardens.

Berks group met up on the Ridgeway above West Ilsley for a summer afternoon walk. It was just the day for it and although several members collapsed by the parked cars upon our return, they were soon revived by a welcome traditional afternoon tea at Shirley Gores home in the village.

Rainbow coloured umbrellas brightened up the swirling mist at Teason Farm near Bodmin on the day that FWC member Margaret Bate and her husband John had chosen for this years charity fundraising garden party.

"Not a day for the beach," quipped John as he showed us around his farming museum. He has been collecting old implements for about seven years and the display now also includes domestic gadgets alongside the agricultural machinery. Such things as a black beetle trap, a poachers gaff and a wood morticing machine caught my eye not to mention the whistling milk pan!

The farm has been in the family from the 1700s and I am sure Johns forebears would be fascinated to see how the garden has developed to create a colourful display throughout the year. There is a collection of granite troughs, mushrooms and millstones in one part but the water garden was my favourite. Created in 1991, the water from a nearby spring cascades down the hill into a lily pond, home to an elegant swan fountain. Old bedsteads have been utilised to make attractive gates and seatbacks.

It is a shame that the rain was horizontal but as they say, its an ill wind that blows no good. County correspondent Maud Old was accompanied by husband Jeffrey because the rain meant he couldnt get on with the harvest.

Jean Howells

View from the roof: the gardens

at Broughton Castle, Oxon.