Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Message 2014...

Wishing all our dear readers and followers a very merry Christmas, and all the best for 2015. 

2014 has seen huge progress at Willowbrook Park, and our hope is that we will be shifting in this coming Autumn (Spring for followers in the northern hemisphere).
Dubbo has continued to provide professional growth and challenges for me this year, whilst Peter has kept the home fires burning at Willowbrook. He has whipped the grounds into shape ready for the opening, overseen aspects of the build, and has run the farm, which for the first time this year has turned a profit. He has currently joined me in Dubbo to celebrate Christmas, as I am working over the holiday period. 
We both hope that this festive season is one of joy, and that you are all surrounded by the warmth and love of friends and family. May you relax, and marvel at the year that was before tackling the new year with all its possibilities.

Blessings +

David and Peter Lord Cowell

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Looking back through pictures of last year's holidays I found some photos of our trip to the Queen's Estate in Norfolk, Sandringham. I thought Christmas would be a nice time to share them, as Sandringham is where Her Majesty usually spends Christmas, attending church there; and is where she gave her first televised Christmas speech.

Sandringham is the Queen’s personally owned private estate in Norfolk. The house is set in 24 hectares of garden within an 8000 hectare estate. It has been home to four generations of English monarchs since 1862.

The estate is pretty much self sufficient. The running of the estate has been managed by the Duke of Edinburgh since their marriage and provides a living for over 200 full time staff. The estate is a mixture of tidal marshland, woodland, and arable land for growing crops and farming livestock.


The current house was built in 1870 by Edward VII (when he was but the Prince of Wales) with his consort  Alexandra. The original house was a plain Georgian house with white stucco walls. It was bought for George's 21st birthday by Queen Victoria just after Prince Albert had died.  Edward split his time between Marlborough House in London, and Sandringham in the country. The current house was  designed by AJ Humbert, an architect from Norwich. Construction started in 1863 and was completed in 1870.

Above: The West Facade

Below: A view back across the west lawn with a stone planter set on steps.

Below: A gorgeous planter of purple flowers (? Salvia) just outside the drawing room windows.
Above and Below: The rectangular stretch of lawn between two lime walks, leading up to a statue of Buddha.

Below: The statue of Buddha.

Below: One of the lime walks.

Above and Below: Pigeons perched in the lime trees.

Above: A very Edwardian flower bed
Below: The view down the ally through the flower beds to a statue of Old Father Time.

Above and Below: Old Father Time.

Above and Below: The northern entrance to the house.

Below: An example of much of the custom iron mongery around the house. This is an Edwardian lamp surmounted by a crown and lion.

Above and Below: Examples of many heraldic ornamentations that adorn the exterior of the house.

Above: A view of the clock tower on the eastern side of the house.

The interiors remain pretty much as they were in Edward's time. They are furnished with many object d’art, most of them gifts to the royal family.I did not take any photos of the interior, as her majesty respectfully requested that guests refrain from taking photos of the inside of her house.

There are two interior shots in the public domain:
Above: The main hall.

Below: The green drawing room.

Back outside...
Above and Below: Views of the eastern facade of the house, showing the main entrance and courtyard.

The gardens have been open to the public since 1908, and the house since The Queen’s silver jubilee year (1977).

Above: A giant Gunnera. We have one similar waiting to planted by our lake this autumn.

This lake dates from the 1880s, as the original lake to the west of the house was filled in to create space for elaborate flower parterres such as those seen in this vintage illustration below:

The war meant that labour to maintain the high maintenance flower parterres was not available and so ones like that above were ripped up and replaced by large expanses of lawn.

Below is the the parish church of St Mary Magdalene. It is a Carrstone building and dates from the 16th century. This is the lych gate  at the churchyard entrance.


Above and Below: The Queen and Royal Family gathering for the service on Christmas day.
Above: The path to the west door. Below: The belltower, flying the George Cross.

Below: The west door.

Below: A Greek font outside the west end of the church.
Above: The stained glass at the east end above the altar.

Below: The silver altar and reredos.
The silver altar and reredos were presented to Queen Alexandra as a gift from an American, a Mr Wanamaker.   

After visiting the church we took a tour of the estate museum, set up in the old stable block.
Above: Old stable stalls.

Below: Memorabilia.
Above: A room in the museum full of taxidermy, including a peacock (below).

There was also a lot of commemorative china...

and these very small miniature porcelain flowers...

There was once also an estate woodworking school...

The museum also had many royal vehicles...

and an old 1939 Merryweather fire engine which was used by the estate brigade.

We also found several headstones marking the graves of late beloved corgis...

We also found the walled gardens, which were not open to the public that day. Here is the lovely entrance to them...

The Queen delivered her first televised Christmas message fro Sandringham in 1957. Here is a link to it below.

I hope this year, where ever you are, you have a good Christmas, and hope that you can find time to listen to Her Majesty's Christmas message.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...