After 15 years as Curator at Lady Waterford Hall, Dorien Irving has moved on to pastures new. The new curator, Geoff Bavidge, who lives in Ford Village, took the reins when the Hall opened for the 2016 season on 20th March.
Dorien was presented with gifts and flowers from Lady Joicey and members of staff from the Hall and from Ford & Etal Estates. Thanking everyone for their kindness she added “I have loved every minute of my time at the Hall and in many respects will be sad to leave. It has been a fantastic experience and I have met some wonderful people along the way. I wish Geoff every success in his new post – and of course as I am still living in the village I will be able to pop in and see him and his team from time to time”.
A joint venture to grow and mill a primitive form of wheat in north Northumberland has been launched, brought about by an ever increasing demand for spelt flour. Matthew Rawlings of The Great Northumberland Bread Company has teamed up with Andrew and Guy Warcup of Ford & Etal Farms to grow a field of the crop that will be harvested in the autumn then processed at the nearby Heatherslaw Corn Mill where spelt flour has been milled for the last couple of years.
Lynne Allan, who makes jams and marmalades under the label of Lady Waterford Preserves at The Old Dairy Concept Store in Ford, is one of only two Double Gold winners at the World’s Original Marmalade Awards.
Airship Northstar is a full weekend (24th-26th June) celebration of steampunk, dieselpunk and victoriana created by Impossible Gears, the slightly bonkers creators of Steamtown 2015 - music, laughter, food, drink, jetpack racing, tea duelling, teapot racing, entertainment and general merriment of many sorts – plus a number of attractions and activities unique to the historic and incredibly pretty Ford and Etal Estates.
A project by Manchester Metropolitan University to investigate the site of several Neolithic and Early Bronze Age round barrows, excavated by Canon Greenwell in the 19th Century and recorded on early edition Ordnance Survey mapping, will take place to the south of the chimney at Ford Moss during late August with an Open Day being held on Wednesday 26th, between 9am & 5pm.
Following the popular displays of work by local craftsmen and artists at Lady Waterford Hall during the 2015 season, there are a variety of displays taking place during 2016. From 5th June until 9th July the talented local quilter and needle worker, Caroline Morrell of Rainbow Quilts, has a variety of work on display and available to buy.
We are delighted that Lady Waterford Hall has won one of the prestigious 2015 Hudson's Heritage Awards which were announced on Tuesday 3 March. Lady Waterford Hall scooped the award in the "Hidden Gem" category. Established in 2011, the awards are an independently judged annual national scheme open to historic houses, gardens, museums and heritage sites and celebrate the very best visitor experiences.
Heatherslaw Mill has seen a bake off take off as the popular BBC TV programme has sparked an interest in baking, and sales of stoneground flour, oatmeal, oatflakes and muesli are all doing well.
"There is no doubt that The Great British Bake-Off has brought about a real interest in baking," says Julia Nolan, the miller at Heatherslaw.
Heatherslaw's traditional stoneground flour, milled beside the River Till from locally grown wheat, has sold well, while interest in spelt flour has been particularly strong. Spelt is a primitive form of wheat which dates back into the Middle Ages and beyond, and which is ideal for those who are not able to tolerate too much wheat flour. "A number of people unfortunately cannot tolerate the levels of gluten that modern wheat varieties carry. Spelt flour has a higher concentration of complex carbohydrates and is more easily digested. The dough needs slightly different treatment – the rule of thumb is to use only about 60% of the amount of other ingredients that you normally incorporate in a standard dough mix. It can give a nice, soft fluffy loaf."
"People are also more interested in sourcing their food locally," added Julia. "The Mill is a strong supporter of the new Tasty Trail guide to the good food of Northumberland. At Heatherslaw we have milled flour, oats and barley for over 700 years, and next year it will be 40 years since the current mill was restored."
Before that, however, Heatherslaw is linking up with the Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre to offer special Christmas gift sets of bread-making bags and breakfast bags, each comprising a selection of Heatherslaw Mill products. The breakfast bag comes complete with a jar of Hay Farm's own brand of marmalade. These will be available at the Christmas events at the garden centres at Dunbar, Berwick, Kelso, Edinburgh and Morpeth (Heighleygate) and at the Christmas Market in Ford village on November 30. Heatherslaw products are available at various local outlets. They will also be available online from the last week of October.
Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre is set to step back in time on 11th & 12th October with its "Looking Back" event. Visitors to this weekend event will be able to see Heavy Horses working in the field and view horse drawn machinery through to the first working tractors. Whilst children can visit the Clydesdales stabled within the barn parents can browse the selection of crafters, food producers and demonstrators located in the undercover market area. The organisers of the event have been very fortunate in locating a rare crafter who will be demonstrating the old art of corn dolly making. Also joining them for the weekend will be a very unusual sight - the only ploughing mule team in the country, who apparently are also highly skilled at escaping from stables!
In its day Hay Farm was an integral part of the estate as the standing steam engines for threshing were located here. In years gone by seventeen heavy horses worked the land and moved cereals down to Heatherslaw for milling. This event incorporates these two venues and visitors can take a short leisurely walk down past the working horses to Heatherslaw Cornmill and learn of its history - children can even become 'junior millers'! This is truly a family event and is sure to bring back memories for grandparents as well as giving younger family members an insight into rural life in years gone by. Daily admission charge to event only £2.50 adults/£1.00 children. Admission event plus Cornmill – Adults £5.00 Children £2.00. Both venues open 10am – 4pm, last admission to Mill 3.15pm.