10 Reasons why Ross is fit for a Prince…
10 Reasons why Ross is fit for the Royals
1) Food fit for a Prince
Herefordshire, with its lush green countryside, red fertile soil and benign climate, produces a range of delicious, fresh, local produce. Shopping for food for her Prince, Kate would find a selection of some of the best the country has to offer less than two miles away at Pengethley Farm shop, winner in the retail category of the Flavours of Herefordshire Awards 2010. Owner Joanna Lewis says: ‘We have several customers from Harewood Park and we would be over the moon to have the Royal couple among them. We are very lucky that in this country we are surrounded by local producers of all different sizes and there is such a fantastic selection of seasonal local produce, including local asparagus, soft fruits and tomatoes.’ If Prince William shares his father’s taste for organic food, he will find one of the best-stocked organic shops in the area at Field Fayre, The Organic Store in Ross on Wye. ‘They could have handmade artisan breads, organic flours; they could do a full weeks shop here. We are an organic supermarket, everything in the shop is completely organic, with the exception of a couple of products which are purely natural and we have a lot of fair-trade products,’ says owner, David MacGregor who, with his wife Yolanda, moved to the area seven months ago, giving up corporate life in Edinburgh to take over the shop. Says David: ‘We buy local produce when it is available. Last apple season we had about 14 varieties of apples and nine varieties of pears all grown within a couple of miles and all organic. All out meat is organic and sourced from local farms and our local fruit and vegetable come from within a five to ten mile radius.’
2) Excellent eateries
Just up the road at Wilton, the couple would be spoilt for choice with two of the country’s finest, award winning restaurants, which have both received accolades for their use of local produce in the Flavours of Herefordshire Award Scheme. Kelly Bailey, who with her husband Richard owns and runs Orles barn, winners of the 2010 Restaurant of the year category says: ‘It would be fantastic for the area if the Royal couple did make their home in Herefordshire. For it to be a Royal Country would be wonderful. We tend to draw in younger people, such as young couples who come from London for the weekend and we would be delighted if the Royal couple were to be customers. I think we would be right up their street.’ At Wilton Court, a restaurant that was Highly Commended in the same category in 2010 and winners 2009, owner Helen Wynn says: ‘it would be lovely to have a member of the Royal family with a residence in Herefordshire, as in our neighbouring county of Gloucestershire. It would be fantastic help bringing in tourism and it would help put Herefordshire on the map.’ Helen describes herself as ‘a bit of a Royalist’ which is one of the reasons that she is organising special Royal celebrations at the restaurant on April 29. For more eateries with local produce on the menu, the Royal couple would only have to stray a little further, to The Mill Race at Walford to find a restaurant commended in the 2010 awards. Also nearby they would find Glewstone Court Country House Hotel, finalists in the award.
3) Great outdoors
From Harewood Park it is an easy walk to the River Wye, one of Britain’s most scenic and unspoilt rivers, popular with canoeists and walkers. Chris Burgess, with his partner Dawn Caddick, has run Genesis on the Harewood Park Estate for the past two years. Genesis operates from a converted 17th century barn and is popular with businesses for board meetings, team building events and training, and is known for its freshly cooked homemade food using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Chris and Dawn have recently expanded into event management and wedding planning. Chris says: ‘Harewood Park is a fantastic place to live and work and bring up a family, it is just a few minutes’ walk to the river, where you can launch a canoe, there are magnificent walks in the area and the park itself is great for the kids to ride their bicycles safely and there are plenty of bridleways for horse riding too. It would be fantastic if the Royal couple decided to make their home in Herefordshire, providing we all respect their privacy.
4) Peace and tranquillity
Bernie Elsome-Jones and her business partner Claire Weaver have run Lilylou and You, specialising in bespoke handmade wedding stationary, from the Harewood Park estate for nearly two years. Bernie has her home in the nearby converted stable block. ‘I just love the peace and tranquillity of being here’, she says. ‘I don’t really leave the estate, I am pretty much cocooned here working very long hours and I live here. The walks are stunning and the estate is really nurtured and not overly developed. I t is as it was hundreds of years ago and it is just beautiful. We would very much welcome the Royal couple if they chose to make Harewood Park their home.’
5) Rural idyll
Sharon Lakeland her partner Harry Bramer lives in at Dadnor Court, and elegant Georgian mansion with picture postcard views of Ross on Wye, which would be the Royal couples nearest town. The views were just one of the selling points for Sharon and Harry when they moved here in 2007. Says Sharon, ‘I bought Dadnor Court after living in five other countries, firstly because of the beauty of the area, the friendliness and helpfulness of the people to me as a newcomer, but also the fertile soil which has enabled me to embrace todays ethos of growing my own vegetables and produce. I now have my own orchard which makes lovely apple juice for my partners wedding venues, as well as a successful vineyard which produces delicious sparkling pink wine which will soon be sold at one of the venues- Clearwell Castle.
6) Temperate climate
Alan Parslow and his wife Sue are the owners of Wilton Castle, just outside Ross-on-Wye, a part Tudor, part-Georgian and part-Victorian manor house, set amongst romantic, restored 12th century ramparts. Alan explains that the castle can claim one of the immediate area’s few existing links to the Royalty- for three hundred years it was home to the de Greys, the family of Lady Jane Grey who was nominal queen of England for nine days in 1553. The Parslows bought the castle in 2002 and moved here from the Cotswolds. One of the area’s many attractions, for them, is the climate. ‘It is a superb climate in Ross-on-Wye. The records show it has less rain and more sunshine than most places in England. There is a microclimate here- just recently, we only had three inches of snow when most people around had feet!’ the Parslows have lovingly restored Wilton Castle and its enchanting gardens, which are open under the National Garden Scheme and English Heritage Open Days on dates in June, July and August.
7) Majestic landscape
Harewood Park is situated in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Ross-on-Wye is the only town within the designated area. Says ANONB officer Andrew Blake: ‘The designation recognises the exceptional landscape in the area, its impressive geology, historic legacies and wildlife. The dramatic limestone gorge of the Lower Wye Valley, some of the most outstanding native woodlands to be found in Britain, the wonderful Wye Valley Walk and one of the finest rivers in Britain would be almost on the couples doorstep.’
8) The fast and furious game
Prince William would be able to indulge his interest in polo, a game which has its British roots in the Wye Valley, where the first polo club in England was founded in 1872 at Clytha Park, near Abergavenny. Today. Prince William’s nearest club would be Longdole Polo Club, at Birdlip in Gloucestershire, where Herefordshire polo player Charlie Bulmer is one of the hundred or so members. The property developer, who has a stable of ten polo ponies, says: ‘Herefordshire provides good riding country and there is reasonably good access to the Polo Club from here.
9) Super shopping
About eight miles from Harewood Park, Ross on Wye would be the nearest place for the couple to shop. David MacGregor, owner of Field Fayre, The Organic Store, says: ‘It’s a lovely, rural town and pretty unspoilt still.’ ‘Given the size of the town there’s an unusually high amount of private shops,’ says Mervyn James. ‘I am one of the oldest and there are new ones coming in all the time.’ His shop is in an 18th Century building in the heart of the town, just 50 yards from the striking 17th century Market House. There’s been a menswear business there for the past 100 years and Mervyn took it over in 1963. The shop offers select range of ready to wear formal and casual menswear, as well as made to measure hire services. Family run jewellers, H.E Phillips which opened in 1893 is another long-established business in this historic market town and stocks a stunning array of beautiful jewellery to suit all occasions and budgets. Other independent retailers include Lizzie Bunting, an inspirational store with a distinctive retro feel that’s packed full of wonderful home accessories, kitchenalia, handbags, scarves, jewellery and gifts. Parkfields Gallery is another of the towns gems, stocking a wide selection of contemporary fine art and craft, including paintings, prints, ceramics, sculpture, glass and textiles. Howard Eldridge, owner of Crows feet, with its excellent range of leather goods, jewellery and greetings cards is another advocate of the town: ‘Ross has avoided being taken over by multiple chain stores which would have turned into a poor imitation of larger high streets. The range of independent shops is exceptional with everything catered for, including great deli and excellent butchers. The regular open markets in front of the Market House on Thursdays and Saturdays are complemented by the brilliant indoor Country Market held every Saturday in High street where fresh vegetables and fantastic cakes and pies can be bought direct from the makers and growers.’
10) A place to live happily ever after…
Norman Bricknell, chartered surveyor says: ‘Estate agents with mid and up market houses are seeing a difference in the type of people moving from the south east to countries like Herefordshire. About 20 years ago it used to be early retired people moving to the counties but since the introduction of broadband it is now mainly people re-jigging their lives. Herefordshire is a fantastic county and its easy access is key.’ The area has excellent communication links like Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff all within an hour’s drive and London about two hours away. Adds Norman: ‘Years ago I was talking to someone who chose Ross because he said you can get in the car and drive to Scotland or Cornwall without going through a traffic light! With the exception of the traffic lights in Monmouth (and the inevitable road works) that’s pretty much still true today!’ Norman also points to the quality of the local village primary schools and John Kyrle High school, recently awarded Aacademy status. He also mentions nearby public schools and the Hereford sixth form college as other reasons why young couples and families choose the area. ‘If the young Royal couple do move to the area, it is likely to indicate to those from away what we who are fortunate enough to live in Herefordshire already know- it is one of the finest countries in the Kingdom!’
We would like to thank Joanne Goodwin who wrote this article for the Herefordshire & Wye Valley Life magazine and allowing Wilton Court to publish it.
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