Lady Ashcombe

PUBLISHED: 11:55 16 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:59 20 February 2013

Some past residents of Sudeley had to survive Machiavellian plots lurking behind every door. Lady Ashcombe only has to cope with a mischevious journalist.

The month of May is upon us, when flowers and trees start to blossom in the warmer weather. It is said to be a time of love and romance when people celebrate the coming of summer with many different customs that are expressions of joy and hope after a long winter. This year particularly, with the hard reality of the economic crisis, the enormity of global problems and the uncertainty of the future, we all need something to celebrate and to take our minds temporarily off worldly cares.


Across Britain, this is likely to be a year in which fewer recession-struck families take holidays abroad and will thus be testing the charms of a British holiday. Recent statistics show that numbers of visitors to National Trust properties have already risen 50 per cent on last year. This is music to the ears of owners of privately owned historic houses like Sudeley, who do not have the powerful marketing resources of National Trust properties behind them, but will nevertheless hope to benefit from the current economic mood of staying at home - avoiding the nightmare experiences of frantic airports, cancelled flights, disappointing promises of 'luxury' overpriced holidays on overcrowded and polluted beaches, and instead will venture out to discover the glories and beauty of yet unspoiled rural England and our own unique history and heritage.


Sudeley is lucky in being able to tick most of the boxes of 'a perfect British day out destination'. It sits majestically in one of the top beauty spots of England where the ancient Cotswold hills begin to slope gently down to the Evesham valley and beyond to the sea.


The Castle's history is unsurpassed with the great and celebrated personalities who have lived here, and its prize-winning gardens have been listed among the top 10 gardens in the country.


Well, what more can one ask for? I have lived in this magical, often demanding, place for over 40 years and if I can string it out until 2012, I will have lived at Sudeley for 50 years and survived a longer occupation and kinder fate than many of its past residents - Richard III, Ralph Boteler, Thomas Seymour, Lady Jane Grey, and Lord Chandos who all met a murky end in one way or another. I marvel at the stamina of the nobility of past generations at a time when Machiavellian schemes and bloody plans to unseat them were lurking behind every door.


So far the security of my tenure has been more peaceful, that is until a recent bit of journalistic chicanery reported in the local press that our family was soon to move into a cowshed, due to the financial squeeze. I suspect a clever but mischievous journalist with a sense of humour saw the notice of my daughter's application for planning permission to convert a beautiful but derelict 17th century barn into a residence to give it new life and purpose.


This snippet was soon taken up by the national and international media, probably as an attempt to lighten up the constant diet of gloomy recession news. My sister, who lives in Long Island, NY, saw it on the internet and had a good laugh picturing me with a bandana around my head and shouldering bundles of corn for the cows. My son in Hawaii thought it was hilarious and the story, I would guess, has brought a smile to the face of many others. Meanwhile, I have been fending off the comments and commiserations of friends and neighbours on the family's bad fortune.


The American humorist Mark Twain says in a curt cable to the Associated Press following an account of his recent demise while travelling in Europe (circa 1900) 'The report of my death was an exaggeration'!


Taking liberties from Twain: I say, 'The report of my move to a cowshed was an exaggeration', or at any rate premature, until I have done my best to break the record of living at Sudeley longer than any of its previous owners


My family and I remain very much in residence and are looking forward to welcoming hordes of visitors this summer to celebrate all that is good in the British holiday at home.


For more information on our new exhibitions for 2009, the gardens, country cottages and wedding facilities please visit the website at www.sudeleycastle.co.uk or call 01242 602308 for a brochure.


The month of May is upon us, when flowers and trees start to blossom in the warmer weather. It is said to be a time of love and romance when people celebrate the coming of summer with many different customs that are expressions of joy and hope after a long winter. This year particularly, with the hard reality of the economic crisis, the enormity of global problems and the uncertainty of the future, we all need something to celebrate and to take our minds temporarily off worldly cares.


Across Britain, this is likely to be a year in which fewer recession-struck families take holidays abroad and will thus be testing the charms of a British holiday. Recent statistics show that numbers of visitors to National Trust properties have already risen 50 per cent on last year. This is music to the ears of owners of privately owned historic houses like Sudeley, who do not have the powerful marketing resources of National Trust properties behind them, but will nevertheless hope to benefit from the current economic mood of staying at home - avoiding the nightmare experiences of frantic airports, cancelled flights, disappointing promises of 'luxury' overpriced holidays on overcrowded and polluted beaches, and instead will venture out to discover the glories and beauty of yet unspoiled rural England and our own unique history and heritage.


Sudeley is lucky in being able to tick most of the boxes of 'a perfect British day out destination'. It sits majestically in one of the top beauty spots of England where the ancient Cotswold hills begin to slope gently down to the Evesham valley and beyond to the sea.


The Castle's history is unsurpassed with the great and celebrated personalities who have lived here, and its prize-winning gardens have been listed among the top 10 gardens in the country.


Well, what more can one ask for? I have lived in this magical, often demanding, place for over 40 years and if I can string it out until 2012, I will have lived at Sudeley for 50 years and survived a longer occupation and kinder fate than many of its past residents - Richard III, Ralph Boteler, Thomas Seymour, Lady Jane Grey, and Lord Chandos who all met a murky end in one way or another. I marvel at the stamina of the nobility of past generations at a time when Machiavellian schemes and bloody plans to unseat them were lurking behind every door.


So far the security of my tenure has been more peaceful, that is until a recent bit of journalistic chicanery reported in the local press that our family was soon to move into a cowshed, due to the financial squeeze. I suspect a clever but mischievous journalist with a sense of humour saw the notice of my daughter's application for planning permission to convert a beautiful but derelict 17th century barn into a residence to give it new life and purpose.


This snippet was soon taken up by the national and international media, probably as an attempt to lighten up the constant diet of gloomy recession news. My sister, who lives in Long Island, NY, saw it on the internet and had a good laugh picturing me with a bandana around my head and shouldering bundles of corn for the cows. My son in Hawaii thought it was hilarious and the story, I would guess, has brought a smile to the face of many others. Meanwhile, I have been fending off the comments and commiserations of friends and neighbours on the family's bad fortune.


The American humorist Mark Twain says in a curt cable to the Associated Press following an account of his recent demise while travelling in Europe (circa 1900) 'The report of my death was an exaggeration'!


Taking liberties from Twain: I say, 'The report of my move to a cowshed was an exaggeration', or at any rate premature, until I have done my best to break the record of living at Sudeley longer than any of its previous owners


My family and I remain very much in residence and are looking forward to welcoming hordes of visitors this summer to celebrate all that is good in the British holiday at home.


For more information on our new exhibitions for 2009, the gardens, country cottages and wedding facilities please visit the website at www.sudeleycastle.co.uk or call 01242 602308 for a brochure.


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