main gates open in sunshine

Spring has (finally) sprung and a reopened and refreshed West Horsley Place is in full swing once more!  It has been lovely to see many of you back here – particularly at our first Open Day last Sunday, as well as on the restarted ‘Nooks and Crannies’ Tours. I have also been particularly impressed by the amazing efforts from our Ghosts’ fans – and we are delighted to be able to showcase the ‘Doll’s House’ from the opening credits of the show in one of our rooms.  If you have not managed to come on a tour yet, please do book one before the remaining spaces sell out.  Whilst here you can have coffee and a locally-made cake from our pop-up café, in Place Farm Barn courtyard – and enjoy our GladRags Banner Exhibition, what with the amazing banner artwork coming together and now proudly displayed up on the barn wall.  

As the recent filming here concluded, we were pleased to welcome back more of our volunteers, including the Garden Gang, and our Library and Archival volunteers – all of whom are making great progress on current projects, including those funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We expect cataloguing and transcription volunteering opportunities to begin over the coming summer months.   Our next Breathing Spaces course, working with Surrey Mind, begins in late June, and we have been planning for our Community Archaeology week (including a dig!) that will take place in September.  More to follow in future e-news on this..

Our Sustainability efforts are also now taking a leap forward as last month we welcomed the Trust’s first Environment & Sustainability Manager, Yendle Barwise, to the team.  As well as our better-known Trust aims to preserve and repair the Manor House and listed outbuildings, we also have two key aims around this crucial green agenda as a charity, as part of our future vision. These are to:

  • Revive the natural landscape and estate to a high quality including as part of a county-wide nature recovery network. 
  • Be sustainable – environmentally, socially and financially. 

Yendle will help us realise these aims. He has come to us from the University of Surrey (where he is also completing his PhD) and has an MSc in Conservation and Land Management. He has also worked for the Forestry Commission; and as a Ranger, as well as on community projects.  Working with our Environment & Sustainability Steering Group; Matt and our colleagues, Yendle will take forward work including sustainable heating and power for the estate, reforestation and tree-planting, as well as supporting diversification and working on our agreed actions to become carbon neutral and net zero in the near future! 

Our next major conservation project at the Manor House will be to conserve and repair the ‘Geraldine Ceiling’, having worked with Historic England, Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, the Goddard Partnership and Peter Martindale to carry out detailed surveys.  A planning consent for the scope of repairs is currently being agreed and tenders have been completed. Following this we will launch a public appeal to help raise the funds needed to safeguard and preserve this astonishing ceiling for future generations.  There will be learning opportunities as part of this. Please watch this space for further news! 

We are also putting the final planning in place for exciting future public events here – from the visit of Shakespeare’s Globe as part of their tour, to the return of Three Inch Fools who present the very apt Gunpowder Plot here too.  Booking is currently open for these and more, including our ‘Bioblitz’ nature recording day on 14th May.  See you again soon.