Ford village, picturesque and secluded, is still recognisable as the place it was a hundred years or more ago. After centuries of border warfare, the union of England and Scotland led to a more peaceful time, and by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the area was a quiet, rural backwater. But it was also an era of change – industry was growing, travel and communications becoming easier, the population was expanding, and agricultural estates like Ford were vital for food production.
Ford and Etal Estates is a quiet and remote part of the country, filled with hidden gems, with many walking trails around the villages and farms. But one of the wildest parts of the estate is a place many visitors don’t get to: the nature reserve of Ford Moss. Situated east of Ford village, it lies away from the main roads, accessible by foot from Ford, or by car along a narrow, winding lane followed by a short walk. The Moss itself is a bog, dangerous to walk on, but a circular path allows visitors to explore the area safely.
The third artist/crafter exhibiting in the Lady Waterford Hall artists display cabinet this year is Jane Jackson of Bright Seed Textiles.
Bright Seed Textiles are Northumberland based husband and wife team Keith & Jane Jackson. Jane is a textile artist who has developed her own distinctive style of creating needle felted "paintings" from Harris Tweed, a unique heritage fabric that is still handwoven by crofters in the Scottish Outer Hebrides. Jane's original Harris Tweed "paintings" can be purchased directly from the artist. She is also happy to undertake commissions or produce new versions of originals that have previously sold. Her images are also available as giclee art prints and greetings cards, the latter being available to view and buy in the Lady Waterford Hall from the beginning of July until 2nd September.
For a small building, Horseshoe Forge in Ford Village can take quite some time to explore. Its unusual horseshoe-shaped entrance makes it one of the most photographed buildings on Ford & Etal Estates, and once inside it’s a cornucopia of all things vintage and collectable – including a huge selection of rare and antiquarian books, with expert John Marrin on hand to offer advice and valuations.
The 24th North Northumberland Bird Club Dawn Chorus Walk this year took place on Sunday 14th May, starting from Slainsfield, and there was a record turn-out of 27 members when we saw and heard a record number of 53 species.
Having recently acquired a Robinsons Flour Dressing machine from Offley Mill in Staffordshire, Heatherslaw Cornmill is delighted to announce the launch of a new flour to add to its existing baking range . “Heatherslaw Malt” is made by blending wholewheat and the dressed flour, both traditionally milled at Heatherslaw, and adding malted wheat flakes from Silvery Tweed in Berwick.
After twenty years away from North Northumberland, husband and wife John and Lorna Speight have returned to their roots and are operating their individual businesses from the old Drying Kiln at Heatherslaw Mill, on the Ford & Etal Estates, with a little bit of help from Billy their dog.
With “colouring in” being more popular than ever among both adults and children, local illustrator and print maker Imogen Aitchison has worked with Lady Joicey over the winter months to design a new book inspired by the stunning 19th century murals painted by Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, on display in the Lady Waterford Hall, Ford.
Heatherslaw Cornmill played host to the Annual General Meeting of The Traditional Cornmillers Guild on 18th March, with traditional Wind and Watermillers from across the country travelling to Northumberland. To make the day a unique experience Head Miller Dave, along with mill volunteer Tom Hammill, were able to demonstrate the operation of the unusual Pearl Barley mill at the site. Dave explained ‘This is equipment that is not normally operated when we are open to the public because, as well as being incredibly noisy with a stone rotating at over 150 turns per minute, it also creates a lot of dust. We decided to run the equipment with a full load for what we believe to be the first time since the 1950s as it is something that even many experienced millers have not had the chance to see before.’