Photographer Wolf Kettler has started a photography project, which investigates the quarry proposals.
Wolf wants to show the beauty of the landscape, that is being proposed for destruction, portray the people, who will be affected, and, if it comes to the bitter end, document the process of destruction. The first instalment has now been published on Wolf's website.
If you want to be part of the photography project, please contact Wolf.
There is a special village meeting at the Social Centre at 7:30pm on Thursday, 16 September 2010. This meeting is the last chance to ask the Council questions face-to-face. What is needed is a huge turnout.
Members of the informal residents' group will be collecting more signatures for the petition for Bromham to be dropped from the proposals, ahead of Thursday's meeting. Some people are still unaware of what is being proposed on their doorstep.
The residents' group is still looking for volunteers to meet Tuesday night to knock on doors, raise awareness, inform about the meeting and collect signatures for the petition. If you can invest an hour in the future of our village, please come to the Greyhound car park on Tuesday, 14 September, 6:30pm.
Please advise the group by e-mail if you can help.
This perfect balance of fields, trees and hedgerows is in the area identified as C18 in the quarry proposals. Area C18 is situated between the A342 and Hawkstreet/Durlett Road. The field in this photograph would be stripped bare of its soil layer; the hedgerow on the left and the trees in the middle would be torn out of the ground by diggers and destroyed. The area shown in the photograph forms only a small part of the proposed quarry.
Read more about the Bromham quarry proposals and how to object
One of our residents, photographer Wolf Kettler, exhibits personal and commissioned work at the Sashay Gallery in Devizes.
On show are a selection of photographs from the cycle “Look, Touch” and nature portraits from areas familiar to the photographer, including photographs from Wiltshire. Wolf Kettler specialises in people photography. His work has been exhibited and published internationally and is held in private collections.
Photographs from the exhibition can be bought ready mounted and framed. Also on sale is Wolf’s 2011 cats wall calendar. Pick up an exhibition flyer at the gallery to get a special deal on a photo session with Wolf.
Sashay Gallery (upstairs at the Healthy Life Company)
4 Little Brittox
The show opens on 3rd September and runs until 24th September.
Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm.
More information about the exhibition can be found on Wolf’s blog. You can contact Wolf by telephone (07785-738 000) or through his website.
SPYE PARK 1863-2005
In November 2005, after 142 years, the Spicers left Spye for good (allowing for the fact that my father still lives just off the estate). I will never forget the evening I drove away for the last time: I had returned to my now empty farm house to collect a remaining large picture which I did not want the removal men to damage. I locked the house and set off in the dark and the pouring rain to return home – as it already felt after only 48 hours – to Mildenhall, near Marlborough, where we now live. I confess that I wept all the way, not for grief of leaving what had been my family home for six generations, but for sheer relief that it was all over.
The story of the Spicers of Spye begins, probably, in 1862 when my great-great grandfather, Major John W. G.,Spicer (1817 – 1883) was staying with his sister, Mrs. Clutterbuck, at Hardenhuish, Chippenham (now part of the school) and heard that Spye Park was for sale. He was then living at Esher Place, Surrey, which he had inherited from his father but, having bought Spye for £100,000 he moved with his large family, into the Palladian-style house built by the ancient Bayntun family. Between 1863 and his death in 1883 he demolished the old house and built a new mansion, a vicarage, six model farms, a transept for Chittoe Church, and several cottages and houses. The new mansion, completed in 1865 (but for the addition of a tower in 1870), was a neo-Jacobean house designed by A. J., Humbert, who designed Sandringham and the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore. This is interesting as the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, had also made an offer for the purchase of Spye Park. The house mellowed considerably but when it was new the then Lord Methuen of Corsham Court wrote to the Times to complain about Major Spicer’s ‘hideous new house’. The interior also, was the non-pareil of Victoriana - like so many houses of its type it was on a grand scale with a huge hall, library, dining room, billiard room and several drawing rooms: red, white and green.
Lady Margaret Spicer with John, Frank and Tony 1893
Major Spicer was a former army officer, having served in the 3rd Dragoon Guards and the 9th Lancers, who had inherited a fortune made in the East India Company and was himself successful in business. He married his first cousin, Juliana Probyn, and they had 8 children. He was Liberal in his politics, Low in his Churchmanship, a firm but kindly landlord and employer but, by all accounts, a martinet (a favourite Spicer word) within his own family: his wife and most of his children were terrified of him. He once ordered his wife to her room because she had arranged to travel to Bath without consulting him! He died in 1883 and was succeeded by his third child and elder son, Captain John E. P. Spicer.
The Spicer family 1919
Captain Spicer was still a serving officer in the 1st Life Guards. He retired in 1888 and married Lady Margaret Fane (1870 – 1949) 20 years his junior and younger daughter of the 12th Earl of Westmorland. They improved the house and gardens, built the kennels of what is now the Avon Vale Hunt (founded as the Spye Park Fox Hounds) and had deer, Highland cattle and dark brown sheep in the park. However tragedy struck the family during this time and began the process of unravelling which finally came to an end in 2005. Their children were: John (1890-1906), Anthony (1891-1928), Frank (1893-1973), Ralph (1894-1970), Joan (1896-1919), Julian (1900-74) and Edmund (1906-1980). The eldest son, John, died aged fifteen 1906, a few weeks before the youngest one was born. Tony, Frank and Ralph all went off to war in 1914 and survived, although Tony was injured in an accident, Frank was wounded, and Ralph, my grandfather, was severely gassed. After the armistice and looking forward to a happy homecoming, the three boys learned that their sister had died from the Spanish flu epidemic aged only 23. She had done distinguished and dedicated service as a VAD, during the time that soldiers were convalescing at Spye; 1 have a telegram of condolence received by her aunt, Lady Londesborough, from Queen Alexandra.
Tragedy apart, the life of a country estate, the rhythm of the seasons and country sports continued unabated until March 1928 when John Spicer died. His second son, Anthony, had already taken over all his father's property outside the Park in order to minimise death duties, but there would still be a liability. By some extraordinary twist of fate, Anthony was killed during a storm at Spye in November 1928 by one of his beloved trees, part of which fell on him and broke his neck. He, like his father and grandfather, adored Spye and was a much loved and respected local figure. He died intestate and had not married and therefore his mother, as next of kin, was left to sort out his affairs. Lady Margaret set up various trusts and settlements and then, after serious death duties had been paid, handed Spye on to her third son, Frank.
Frank Spicer was the more glamorous and colourful of the brothers; he was a fine polo player, had seen brave and distinguished service during the First World War, had been wounded and had won the DSO. He cut an elegant figure and was a very eligible bachelor. He was already involved with the wife of a fellow officer, a man who would later achieve celebrity as head of MI5 - Captain (later Major-General Sir) Stewart Menzies. His wife was Lady Avice, formerly Sackville, the daughter of 8th Earl de la Warr. In 1931 Frank married Lady Avice after a scandalous divorce and they settled at Spye, Lady Margaret having moved to Stanton Court. The next 42 years were to see an endless round of parties and entertaining including, after 1952, the annual visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for Cheltenham Races. Frank, by his own admission, had never expected to find himself the Châtelain and it is quite clear that he did not respond to it altogether responsibly. Neither he nor Lady Avice gave much thought to succession, having no children of their own. Frank did not allow any such considerations to interfere with his pleasures in the smallest degree; he and Lady Avice both hunted and fished, making a stately progress to Scotland where photographs record them picnicking with the royal family. Frank was also a fine shot and ran a syndicate at Spye.
Frank's death, aged 80 in October 1973 spelled the end of life at Spye as it had been. His entailed property - the estate, the house and some of the family pictures - passed to my father, Simon Spicer. The residue, however, passed to Lady Avice absolutely and, if my father wished to retain any of those items he was obliged to buy them back at probate value. This, combined with yet more death duties, saw a serious diminishing of the very fine collection of furniture and other objects of fine art which the family had assembled. The aim and object of the exercise was to be able to remain in the house and on the estate and sacrifices had to be made in order to perpetuate what had now become a myth. Lady Avice moved into a dower house and we moved into the vast and partly empty sepulchre of a house which had seen no children in residence since the First World War.
My father and stepmother were to suffer another set back in our first summer there in 1974, with a disastrous fire which destroyed all the principal rooms in the main part of the house. The house was made good as far as possible but, as if this were not enough, it was subsequently discovered that it was riddled with dry-rot and it had to be demolished. The charming 17th century stable block, built by the Bayntuns, was then converted into a dwelling for people rather than horses. This rescued a fine Jacobean building from dereliction; it contains roof timbers previously found in ships from Charles 1st’s navy and a delightful turret clock mentioned in Kilvert's diary. The main building was gutted and at one stage one could see the stars through the roof. The coach house was divided; two bays became my Father's library, and four became a hall-cum-drawing-room, with a staircase to a gallery above. Two looseboxes and a forage room became the dining-room (incongruously yet successfully lined with crimson damask hangings from the Victorian red drawing-room). Apart from the Gallery the remainder of the upper floors formed bedrooms and bathrooms. The 19lh century indoor stables were stripped and the space became a large gallery for family portraits. It also housed the Spicer coach which had been built in 1800 for my great-great-great-great grandfather, John Spicer of Esher Place; this has now, alas, passed out of the family. The harness room was next door and remained much as it always had been for a family rooted in hunting, coaching and cavalry regiments. I have managed to retain some of those items which tell my family's story, but others went away with the coach in ignominious circumstances. There were side saddles, cavalry saddles and lances, bridles, bits and harness, shabraks, swords and helmets and various objects added by my father more recently, such as a vintage pedal-car.
In 2003 a decision was taken for my father to move to a house on the edge of the estate, where he still lives. The Stables were let until the sale of Spye in 2005. My wife and children and I had moved about all over the place. I had started out on my own in 1982, living in the Spye Arch, the mediaeval gatehouse at the top of Bowden Hill which we inherited from the Bayntuns and which was originally the entrance to Stanley Abbey, Chippenham, near where Abbeyfield School is now. We lived in a charming little grey stone lodge, a microcosm of a grand baronial house. We then had a protracted and tortuous move, over three years and via various temporary roosts, to a farm house in the Park which we discovered to be almost uninhabitable, having been neglected for years. We began essential improvements and then moved in, initially with only the ground floor quarters. With very many thanks to a good and kind friend, lodging with us at the time, with immense DIY skills and legal/financial acumen, we were eventually able to move bedrooms upstairs; the house, however, was never completely finished.
As the circumstances at Spye were capricious and the future extremely uncertain, it was only with the utmost relief that we departed for a new life at Mildenhall.
I miss the trees.
Spy Park.pdf (914.50 kb)
Reproduced with kind permission of Wiltshire magazine
For further discussion and reaction which out Wiltshire Magazine Forum