2022 looks much more hopeful

Welcome to Andy and Max
Devastation after Storm Eunice
Andy and Leighton clearing fallen Notofagus from Back Drive
Filming on the lawn
The mimosas have been beautiful this spring
.. and Jo and Kath did amazing takeaways from their window!
Mij, Dotty, Wilbur, Mousie
Sweet peas, marigolds, rudbekias, zinnias in Kitchen Garden
Rosie in the daffs

It’s been a long time since our last blog but 2021 didn’t exactly go to plan. It started with my husband’s illnesses and finished, after an extremely busy season, with another family emergency. We are hoping 2022 will be healthier all round. But Storm Eunice has just hit us so hard that this year has started with another big challenge.

A busy season ended with the retirement of Carol and Dave, housekeeper and groundsman of 21 years. They had looked after the Abbey and grounds beautifully for all that time. Many may remember Carol in the shop and Dave on the mowing machine! We wish them a long and happy retirement locally.

We are delighted to welcome Andy and Maxine to the Abbey in their place. They have made a terrific start but Storm Eunice has made so much extra work with all its devastation to the gardens. Andy had the grounds looking immaculate before it hit us full on with winds in excess of 100mph on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th February. Extraordinarily, on the same dates in 1978 the terrible blizzard struck us and it took six weeks until the snow went.

We feel so sad to see some of our most loved camellias, all covered in buds and about 20ft high, completely destroyed by two huge, ancient oaks whose tops crashed on to them from a huge height. I can hardly bear the loss of such old friends. Remarkable Blackpool Mill Cottage escaped almost unscathed – only the fence blew away! Like most we had no power or communications for a few days.

We have many new residents in the Abbey… The house has become the most comfortable Bat Hotel in the world! Reroofing with Delabole slates had to incorporate ‘Bat Accommodation’! They live in considerably more comfort than we do and permanently set off the alarms!

What I couldn’t say in my last blog, as it was a secret, was that CBBC had commissioned two more series of ‘Malory Towers’ with us. Filming started in early April when, thankfully, the weather was good but May was awful! We were still closed under covid rules which made filming in the house easier – filming was allowed under covid rules, to keep the industry going. Production companies King Bert and WildBrain did a fantastic job keeping everyone safe; it was before mass vaccination. Our huge scaffold was still up which did not make it easy for anyone.

Many of the 2019 cast and crew from the UK and Canada were back at the Abbey again. They have become great friends and are the happiest production we have ever had. The unit base was in the Park making it easier to keep everyone safe and well. Series 1 and 2 are now on IPlayer with Series 3 coming out shortly. Many scenes were filmed in the gardens and on the cliffs as well as indoors. Our ‘Malory Towers Trail’ for children was a great success last year and kept our young visitors occupied!

The mother of one of the lovely location team made us Peacock masks to sell for charity. We were able to send £250 between Marie Curie and the North Devon Hospice. They were terribly smart and befitting to the Abbey with its peacocks!

Thankfully the scaffolding came down in May so filming at the front of the Abbey could begin. The production moved to Cornwall for a week and when they returned the Abbey had emerged from its shroud!

Thanks to Malory Towers we were able to re-cover some of the Dining Room chairs. Some were very scruffy but Neil, our local upholsterer, did a marvellous job; more are being covered as I write. And wonderful Sue, one of our longest serving room stewards and brilliant seamstress, is making new Dining Room curtains as the old, beautiful pale blue silk ones had sadly completely disintegrated after sixty years. The problem with our seaside climate is that the damp, salt air combined with strong sun isn’t good for our curtains and soft furnishings. The Dining Room, hopefully, will soon be looking a lot smarter! We love our old things and are always reluctant to part with anything – they are old friends and part of history.! We rarely throw anything away, let alone an envelope. We were brought up to ‘make do and mend’ and that is what we do!

The season eventually opened on May 14th. Due to lockdown and limited foreign travel it was a very busy season. Jo and Kath operated the Tearoom out of a window, Theresa and Jonathan through perspex in the Payhut; we thank our visitors for their kindness and understanding at such a challenging time. Miraculously none of the Abbey team caught covid thanks to everyone wearing masks and taking care of others.

The summer became busier…. Rosie, our terrier, had four adorable puppies. It was difficult, before they were vaccinated, as we couldn’t put them on the grass where other dogs had been. A regular sight was the puppies in the wheelbarrow being wheeled to clean grass! All four are still in the family which is lovely. Our family were able to visit in the summer which was very special after so long apart.

We managed some outdoor theatre on the lawn. Brought to us thanks to The Plough Arts Centre, audiences were so happy to be able to come and spend the evening outside again enjoying great productions from companies who had immense covid difficulties themselves. We have more exciting productions this year – please see our Events page. Picnicking on a lovely evening makes it special. We are now able to hold our Daffodil Day, Bluebell Days and Easter Fun again so lots to look forward to in more normal times, we hope!

We had a really stunning display of annuals in the Kitchen garden in 2021 and this year we hope for even better! I remember my grandparents kitchen garden in North Wales had wonderful box hedges and annual flowers and that lasting image in my mind influenced our planting. Nigel kept them going with endless deadheading; he worked so hard to keep the gardens looking their best, much of the time alone. We congratulate him in difficult times. Dick had reroofed the potting shed last year; painted bright pink and green it lit up the darkest of days!

A recent Lichen Survey has revealed some rare finds – we hope to display images soon. The clean Atlantic air, old trees and stone are the perfect environment for something which many do not notice but which are beautiful.

We are thrilled to be able to start the season with Daffodil Day on Sunday 20th March. Three years ago, in 2019, we had to cancel on the day as we woke up to thick snow! The last two years we had to close due to covid so this will be the first time we can open for our wonderful daffodils in four years! We do so hope to welcome lots of Daffodillers and their dogs to the Abbey again. There will be so many lovely bulbs and spring flowering shrubs too!

We still have a few summer weeks left in the holiday cottages. All the details are on the website.

With best wishes for 2022 from us all at Hartland Abbey. We do hope to see you soon! Angela Stucley

Only the fence blew away - Blackpool Mill was still intact!
Before Storm Eunice...
Beautiful red camellia has gone...
A survivor!
Darrell, Sally, Mary-Lou and Gwendoline are back!
'Bluebell Cottage' - The Summerhouse - at snowdrop time
Rosie and her puppies
Annuals in the Kitchen Garden
Trithonia is wonderful for bees
Narcissi on the front lawn

2021 is looking so hopeful

Dave clearing bramble from the front drive -June 2020
Theresa and Sir Hugh devising our covid safe entrance 2020!
Richard made notices..
...and painted the summerhouse into 'Bluebell Cottage'!
..and painted the potting shed pink!
.. and Jo and Kath did amazing takeaways from their window!
The gardens looked amazing
Noone could see the azaleas in 2020 but they will be looking wonderful in May
The holiday cottages will be all ready to open on 12th April

This time last year we were ready to open the Abbey and |Gardens for Daffodil Day but then came the awful news that we were going into lockdown. Here we are a year on and again, sadly, no Daffodil Day. This is a bumper daffodil year so it is doubly sad that no-one is able to see them.

In March 2020 we had no idea how long lockdown would last and everyone was dismayed after so much effort to get the house and gardens ready. We were all frightened of this unknown disease and what it its effects would be, both on our health and on our jobs. Thankfully the Chancellor came up with the furlough scheme, without which redundancies would have been inevitable and heartbreaking. We had to put three full and two part time vital staff on furlough, gates and shutters were closed and the garden took on a Sleeping Beauty appearance! Brambles grew 12 ft in three months and the front drive became impassable! The weather was amazing and welcome for those on furlough.

We eventually opened the gardens and holiday cottages on July 4th. Much thought and planning went into opening to keep our visitors and staff safe. PPE, hand sanitiser in gallons, Perspex screens, disposable everything for the café and endless notices, instructions for holiday cottage visitors etc all had to be thought out and ordered. But it was all worth it as no-one, visitors, guests or staff, caught the bug. It was a miracle as visitors came from all over the UK, many of them with children wanting to see where Enid Blyton’s ‘Malory Towers’ had been filmed the previous autumn! Hartland Quay did a brilliant job too with no infections. Now we can’t wait to get going again!

The vaccine is a miracle and gives us all so much hope. Being of a certain age we have had our jabs as have Carol and Dave, our housekeeper and groundsman. It is the only time in life it is an advantage being older!

We have had a difficult winter. My husband was rushed to the R D & E at the end of November with a burst appendix. He was just beginning to recover when he was rushed back to hospital on New Years Eve with another emergency. Thankfully he is on the mend thanks to a brilliant surgeon and wonderful NHS nurses who also managed to keep him safe from covid. We are eternally thankful to them. We did manage a very happy Christmas Day, on our own for the first time ever, but with zooming our children and grandchildren. The miracles of modern technology! We can’t wait to see them again soon.

In October we heard that we had been very lucky in securing a substantial grant from The Culture Recovery Fund, set up to help historic properties and keep builders going in the pandemic The Abbey has leaked for years and buckets are part of life here! Leighton, who has been employed by the family for at least 50 years, has been solely responsible for keeping the roof on but it was becoming hopeless, like stopping an incoming tide! In the 1950s Sir Dennis had taken off most of the slates and replaced them with asbestos which was practical and fashionable at the time and had worked really well but this was cracking up and many more buckets in bedrooms were needed, putting the fabric of the house at risk.

The Abbey has been encased in an amazing, covered scaffold thanks to the expertise of Advanced Scaffolding from Barnstaple who have provided a watertight working area on the roof. Heddon Mill, the builders, and their subcontractors have worked tirelessly and brilliantly since January and soon the Abbey should be watertight again for the next 100 years we hope! We are so grateful to everyone involved and to the government for instigating the scheme. It is a sobering thought that if we had not received this help we would never have been able to afford to repair the roof, the chimneys and the parapet. We will do a display in the Abbey to show visitors the work that has been done. Also two Georgian or Victorian rattraps with an old rat, found in the roof!!

We will open for the season from Sunday 2nd May with the gardens, walks and takeaway teas. We have decided to play safe while most of the scaffolding comes down from mid April as we cannot risk the safety of our visitors. From Monday 17th May we are able to open the Abbey again for the first time since 2019! It will be a happy day welcoming visitors back again to the house! Our holiday cottages will be ready to open to single families from 12th April and fully from 17th May.  We can’t wait to see everyone again!

Theresa safely behind her covid protection in the payhut2020
Carol in her covid safe gift shop July 2020
The azaleas should be looking their best when we open on May 2nd
The Abbey, encased in scaffolding, much of which will be down when we open
We are so grateful to the Culture Recovery Fund for their help restoring the roof.
The Abbey looking beautiful in late summer
Nigel getting the garden tidy for opening on May 2nd

Daffodils and Camellias are blooming and the birds are singing..

Dave trimming the topiary in the Walled Garden
Camellias in the Bog Garden
Alhambra Corridor carpet covered for film equipment
Ben Barnes and Nick Mitchell (location) on set on Berry cliffs
Bluebells will be coming soon!
Mr. Pea ready to welcome visitors!
Some of the family setting off to walk Hadrian's Wall
Blackpool Mill in the winter sun

When we closed in September it seemed as though we had ages to get ready for 2020! BUT along came all the horrendous gales and so much time has been used up repairing rooves, fallen walls, cutting up fallen trees and branches leaving less time for vital maintenance. Every year this happens now whereas winters used to be calmer and colder. We need frost to kill some of the bugs and push the slugs far into the ground. Instead they have munched their way through the garden as if it was summer!

This is now what we have to live with in this beautiful but exposed part of North Devon. The climate is changing. We have always tried hard to be very careful turning off lights, not using heating but wearing more jerseys, cutting waste, using our food waste as compost, using farm manure to improve the ground, never even throwing away string, old envelopes, elastic bands or anything useful for that matter. Our wartime upbringing! But sadly the world is a wasteful place and now we all have to do our best to reverse the trend.

Just before we closed in 2019, September was full-on with King Bert Productions and Canadian production company, Wild Brain, filming Enid Blyton’s ‘Malory Towers’ for CBBC in and around the Abbey. It was the greatest fun as absolutely everyone- actors,  producers, directors, location, chaperones and all the crew – were charming. The weather was very un-Septemberish with a lot of rain and mud which could have been awful for the house but there was such thoughtfulness and kindness and fun that it made it a happy experience! Due on CBBC TV very soon I think it will bring back many memories of boarding school for our age and I know our granddaughters are going to be addicted to Darrell Rivers and all the goings on! Our Dining Room was transformed into the Malory Towers dining room – it was interesting to see what had accumulated under the carpet when it was taken up for the first time in at least 50 years!  Their props and cold porridge really did bring back memories but I am not letting on any more! It really will be worth tuning in! We thank King Bert and Wild Brain for bringing ‘Malory Towers’ to Hartland Abbey; so many local accommodation providers and local businesses benefitted in this hidden corner of the Hartland peninsula.

2019 was very busy with filming on the Hartland Abbey Estate with Hartland Quay also playing a starring role in Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ filmed by Working Title and Netflix. Six weeks of painting and construction all through May and June culminated in five days of filming. Ideally wanting some pretty wild and gloomy weather for the boat scenes, the weather turned into a Mediterranean climate with a flat calm, and beautiful, blue sea! Local swimmers endured an extremely frustrating time not being allowed to swim for ‘health and safety reasons’; they were amazingly understanding particularly as most of the rest of the summer was awful and the bay was unswimmable! it will be fun to see how the film appears on the screen when it comes out soon. Hartland Quay looked amazing! The ‘street’ at Hartland Quay became Kerrith with the Courtroom; Rebecca’s boathouse was constructed on the Quay and her boat was pulled from the bay. We had the unit base at the Abbey on the tennis court lawn so the grandchildren had a great time trying to spot the stars’! Armi Hammer plays Max de Winter, Lily James is Rebecca and Kristen Scott Thomas is Mrs Danvers! Better images will appear as soon as the film is released but at this stage we mustn’t give the game away!

In November 2018 the BBC filmed ‘Gold Digger’ on the beach at Blackpool Mill and on the Berry cliffs. The production starring Julia Ormerod as Julia Day and Ben Barnes as Benjamin Greene was shown this winter, a year after filming. We enjoyed seeing Hartland looking stunning, filmed from the top of the cliff, with the Atlantic rollers in a wonderful November light. Its worth watching!

We have had great difficulty getting on the garden because it has been so wet but we have almost finished the annual winter task of deadheading all the hydrangeas. It seems to be mine and my husband’s job and the task is very overwhelming to begin with but on a dry day with Nellie and Rosie keeping us company it can be quite fun, especially when they look tidier. I just wish they grew slightly less enthusiastically but they do seem to love Hartland and thrive and produce the most wonderful blues from July onwards, particularly in the Shrubbery (or ‘The River’s Distraction’ ) as it was called by Marion Stucley in the early 1900’s).

When we reopen on 15th March for Daffodil Sunday we will have two new exciting displays – ‘A Victorian Honeymoon’ on our ancestors very long honeymoon around Europe, lasting  110 days and covering 6000 miles! Rather longer than the average honeymoon these days!  Also we are showing a fascinating display on ‘Falconry by The Hon. Gerald Lascelles’ put together by local falconer, Brian Bird, who is very kindly lending his display to us. He has put together a fascinating insight into falconry and we are extremely grateful to him for a truly wonderful exhibit. Gerald Lascelles was my husband’s great grandfather and the leading falconer of his time. He was the Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest for many years in the late 19thC.

At this time the weather is still awful but lets hope for better and a lovely spring and summer for visiting. As I write another storm, Jorge, is raging and poor old Hartland gets hit every time! We have lost a lovely magnolia in the Walled Gardens but we will replant as soon as the ground dries. The wall has fallen down at the top of the Bog Garden of the ancient greenhouse so we now have to decide what to do there as it is much too expensive to rebuild. The camellias are looking amazing and should be looking their best on Daffodil Day along with all our lovely historic daffodils and spring shrubs and bulbs. A newly cleared piece above the front drive is covered in foxgloves so come May that should look wonderful. Spring is such an exciting time!

My husband has written an interesting booklet during the winter, on his ancestors who have lived at the Abbey from 1885, up until when we inherited it to the present day. He explains the decisions we have taken and for what reasons. There is also quite a bit on the filming that has come to us from 1986.

On a personal note we have just come back from a week in Scotland staying with our youngest daughter and her family in Dumfriesshire. It is a beautiful part of the world near the Solway Firth. A great day was spent walking on Hadrians Wall when our son and his family joined us who were also staying up north.

We have lots of exciting events coming up with Daffodils, Easter, Bluebells  and lots of theatre thanks to the Plough Arts Centre bringing some fantastic productions for 2020. We do hope to see lots of visitors and always we will do our best to give you a good time!

Our three holiday cottages, Blackpool Mill and The Bear at Hartland and Affeton Barton, in the beautiful country near Chulmleigh,  have all been done up this winter and are all great places to stay to get away in the fresh air and beautiful countryside of North Devon. Angela Stucley March 1 2020

Primroses and violets
Daffodils and narcissi
AS cutting back wisteria to let more light in for filming Malory Towers!
Hartland Quay beginning to be transformed into 'Kerrith' for the filming of 'Rebecca'
Julia Day's car perilously close to the cliff....
The story of the Abbey up until the present day by Hugh Stucley
A fabulous double, pale pink camellia

New beginnings as spring arrives at Hartland

Becky and Snowdrop are back
Knockhill House B and B
Gate Painter-in-Chief!
Nellie watching us work!
Nigel rather rugged up in cold weather!
Tulips' Burnt Sugar', West Point', 'Red Shine', 'Queen of the Night'
Dogs enjoying the bluebells
Jo and Kath's cakes in the Hartland Abbey tearoom are to die for - this is Easter!
Somewhere to sit down and rest

Thank you to everyone who supported us in 2018. We hope to welcome you back this year. We have lots of exciting events to look forward to, starting with Bluebell Sunday on the 14th, followed by Easter Egg Hunts on Easter Sunday and Monday. Outdoor theatre will be back on the lawn from June onwards with some exciting shows. The winter has gone so fast and it is lovely to see our team of wonderful house stewards back again – we miss them all when we are closed!

We held Daffodil Sunday on 17th March when the sun shone and lots of lovely Daffodillers came; there was still a good display despite earlier, awful gales and the early daffs being over. The camellias have been stunning this year; our beautiful collection is thanks to previous generations planting prolifically. So much is out now – magnolias, the tree rhododendrons, camellias, tulips, bluebells, primroses, violets, wild garlic, chinodoxia and azaleas. Oh, they are all so early!

Since closing in October so much has happened. We went straight up to Dumfriesshire to visit our youngest daughter, her husband and family for a break after a long season of welcoming wonderful visitors to the Abbey. They run a lovely B and B just north of the Border, Knockhill House, and had a busy season too so it was lovely to be able to relax together. Christmas was a lovely family time but it always brings back a little bit of sadness too, remembering those we love but see no longer.

The BBC returned to the Hartland Abbey estate in November to film ‘Gold Digger’, a new series due to be screened soon. Starring Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes, it certainly looks gripping! Location manager, Nick Marshall, found the Berry Cliffs as the perfect location for some rather nerve wracking scenes! The same location was used by Handmade Films in the 1980s to make ‘Water’, starring Billy Connolly, Michael Caine, Leonard Rossiter, Fulton Mackay and Valerie Perrine. Then the Berry cliffs were transformed into St Lucia, thanks to some fibreglass palm trees and an oil rig! It was such fun.

During the winter we have done lots of improvements. We have cleared out the last remaining hellhole in the Abbey – it was the assistant housekeeper’s room during the War and had latterly been filled with junk! Mrs Stewart’s Room will house the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society display of filming at the Abbey in 2017. Unfortunately the ancient stone doorway is narrow and impossible to alter to accommodate wheelchairs but the main Film Exhibition is accessible. Theresa, Peter and Kieran have assembled a fascinating exhibit – ‘A Victorian Honeymoon’ – taking excerpts from the beautifully illustrated diary of their European tour in 1879 by my husband’s great uncle and aunt. It should be on show by late April.

We have smart new windows at Blackpool Mill replacing the rotten and draughty, particularly in the bathroom! Beautifully made by David Chapple in Witheridge and put in by Richard Johns of Hartland, they are a huge improvement, making the cottage really warm. Blackpool Mill is a never ending maintenance headache, being so close to the Atlantic with its salty air causing most things to rust and rot in no time!

During the winter we have laid new tarmac in the Front Drive, originally a carriage drive. It is so smart now and less bumpy. For those who cannot walk to the Walled Gardens via the Ladies Walk, this will also be an easier alternative and heaven for prams and wheelchairs!

Everyone puts their hands to work frantically trying to get ready for opening and making everywhere as tidy and smart as we can. My job is to do all the marketing, create a new leaflet, keep the website up to date, repair lampshades and deadhead hundreds of hydrangeas. My husband is a very good deadheader too; the dogs love it and pootle around The Shrubbery but mostly go to sleep while we work! He is also Chief-Painter-of-Gates, a very responsible job as the gates need painting every year because of the salt air! Thomas, our eldest grandson, in his gap year and about to go to New Zealand to work on a farm, has been clearing out a lot of dead wood under the big old rhododendrons to let the light back in.

Leighton has done an amazing job renewing the gents loos which were finished just in time for Daffodil Sunday. He is Chief-Mender-of–the-Roof, an invaluable job stopping the leaks. Leighton has been with us since he was 15 and employed by my father in law as a butler! He is past retiring age now but comes in three days a week, Richard taking on the other two days. Leighton sells logs locally from all our storm damaged trees which inevitably come down from time to time. There is nothing he can’t do and has been responsible for keeping the Abbey and the holiday cottages going for ever. We are so grateful to him. He is also a great musician and singer of sea shanties, just like The Fishermen’s Friends!

Carol has spring cleaned the Abbey from top to toe – it is gleaming! Dave has kept the grass under control and generally tried to keep the place tidy – not easy with the ever-increasing winter gales from the Atlantic bringing down branches everywhere. But he has now got two new mowing machines which really help him having struggled with ancient ones for ages! Nigel has got the Walled Gardens looking so lovely for spring – the tulips and the narcissi ‘Geranium’ together look beautiful. The Bog Garden started in January with wonderful mimosa and camellias and now, in April, the magnolias and the myrtles are filling the air with scent. Primroses, bluebells, violets and wild garlic are everywhere. We have cleared old ponticum rhododendrons at the entrance to the Bog Garden and replanted with azaleas, enkianthus and myrtle which will love the south facing but dampish site. The Glade’ replanted in the Shrubbery last year is going to be a glorious place to relax in the semi shade surrounded by sweet smelling deciduous azaleas in spring.

A distant cousin, Richard Granville, came to lunch to deliver copies of his excellent book on the Grenville and Granville portraits, at least six of which hang in the Abbey. My husband’s great grandmother, Louisa Granville, brought some of the portraits with her on her marriage to Sir George Stucley. All the portraits are of Sir Richard Grenville’s descendants and are of great historic interest.

No trip to Hartland Abbey is complete without visiting Hartland Quay, only a mile away! It is a great place to stay for visiting the Abbey or combining with our theatre evenings. Perched on the side of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean to Lundy Island, it has comfortable bedrooms and a characterful bar serving good bar food.

We hope to see lots of Bluebell Sunday visitors on 14th April and keen Easter Eggers on Easter Sunday and Monday. It is fun for families to answer the riddles on the way to the Easter Eggs and all children are winners! We are open on Good Friday too.

Many congratulations to Amy and Sam on the birth of their son! Sam helps Nigel in the gardens and is a vital cog in our wheel and Sam and Amy together provide their delicious, very popular barbecues for our open-air theatre performances during the summer months. We have lots of great shows coming up – Jane Eyre starts the season. Gangsta Granny will be very popular but all the shows, brought to us by travelling theatre companies and booked by The Plough Arts Centre, are a lovely way to spend a summer afternoon or evening.

We hope to see you soon. Kath and Jo will be producing their delicious home made lunches and cream teas – their cakes are out of this world. Their Easter cakes are seen to be believed! Angela Stucley April 2019

Wild daffodils in the Orchard
Filming 'Gold Digger' on Berry Cliffs Nov 2018
David Chapple delivering windows to Blackpool
Dave clearing to make new plantings in Bog Garden
Rosie watching us work too!
Narcissi 'Geranium' and Tulip 'Purissima', stunning in the Walled Gardens in April
New plantings at the entrance to The Bog Garden
Beautiful camellia in the Bog Garden
Lovely early rhododendron in the Shrubbery
Finally, some of the Peas going to bed!

What a difference the sun makes..

Old Penjerrick rhodi in Shrubbery
View to the Shrubbery from the Bog Garden
A good place to sit!
The new 'Glade'
HS and Leighton drenching the black sheep
Garlic and bluebells in the Shrubbery

This is one of the loveliest times of the year at Hartland Abbey, not only to visit the gardens but to work in them too. Everything is exploding with fresh leaves, colour and scent. Every moment brings another surprise. So much has changed in the past fortnight! Gone are the cold winds and rain which bedevilled us for such a long time to be replaced by warm, spring sun. The bluebells, due to the cold, have been hanging on for ages and are still lovely in the Shrubbery, which is north facing, but are fading in the other walks, soon to be replaced by plenty of foxgloves, so special to Hartland.

The Bog Garden, the Shrubbery and the Walled Gardens are all bursting into life. Unfortunately weeds grow so fast too so it is the time of the annual battle against nettles, docks and ivy! But how wonderful it is at the end of a back breaking day (worse as we get older) to wander peacefully round the gardens and to see old friends flowering again after a year’s absence! Most young rhododendrons and azaleas will have grown but some poor souls have hated the cold weather.

The Hartland Hartbreaker run was a huge success. The sun shone and lots of supporters came too and were able to enjoy the good weather and the Abbey gardens. Although the ground was still waterlogged in the fields we managed to park everyone and no-one was stuck at the end! Only a few minor casualties thankfully on the run and a lot of brave people finished the gruelling race in order to raise considerable sums for the Children’s Hospice South West. Well done to everyone and also, especially, to Simon Haywood for his amazing organisation. I believe the next year’s race is already planned for Sunday May 5th 2019! What gluttons for punishment…..

The next big event is the Midsummer Charity Weekend on 22nd – 24th June with the Charity Ball on the Friday night, a 50’s Rock n’Roll night on Saturday and a big sporting event on the Sunday. We also have ‘Wuthering Heights’ being performed on the lawn by Hotbuckle Theatre on Sunday evening. So lots going on for everyone! All details are either on our website or on Midsummercharityweekend website. We just hope for some good summer weather as it is all in aid of very special national and local charities.

Thankfully Dave, our groundsman who keeps everything looking as smart as we can, is back from a short stint in hospital and is back on the mower and wielding the strimmer again! Leighton has been very ingenious and has managed to pull up a tree rhododendron,  brought down in the wind and snow,  with his old pulley. Nigel and Sam have been so busy in the Walled Gardens and greenhouses with hardly a moment to breath. Carol and Anne continue to keep the house spick and span – without all their huge support we would not be able to welcome visitors to Hartland Abbey and we thank them all. Kath and Jo and their helpers are doing a fantastic job providing so much delicious sustenance in the Tea Rooms.

Rh. Fragrantissimum
Enkianthus and Rh. schlippenbachii
Malus 'Dartmouth' in full flower
Rh. Alison Johnson' in the Bog Garden
A fabulous double, pale pink camellia
Dave thankfully armed with a rake again!

Guernsey at Hartland and Clovelly!

The Greater Spotted Woodpecker
Door into Sundial Garden
Bog Garden in April
Lily James in 'Guernsey' filmed at Hartland Abbey
Elizabeth meets Dawsey and Christian on the bridge
Pike with his new tail

We are nearly in May and today the only ray of sunshine is my friend, the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, visiting our bird table! He visits every day and lifts our spirits in the gloom of this April – long gone are those few lovely hot days. However the bluebells are looking beautiful, the camellias are glowing and the rhododendrons and azalaeas are beginning so spring really is arriving at last. The violets and primroses are the most beautiful ever and really lift the spirits too. The Walled Gardens are filled with the scent of the ‘Geranium’ narcissi and Brown Sugar tulips.


We are doing lots of new planting this spring in the Shrubbery and the Bog Garden. Where we cleared a big area in the Bog Garden in the winter we are planting azaleas and rhododendrons and we are hoping to create a waterfall though this may have to wait until autumn now as it was just too wet earlier on. We have just returned from our annual trip to see the wonderful, inspiring Cornish gardens and did our customary shop at Trewithen on the way home. Now there is a car load to plant….a slightly easier plant hunting trip than those endured by the intrepid 19thC planthunters!


We have just seen the film of ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’, so beautifully shot on the Hartland Abbey estate and at nearby Clovelly last May. We were amused to read and see so much about the beautiful Guernsey countryside where it was set;  in fact nearly all the countryside and seaside scenes in the film were shot in beautiful North Devon, much of it at Hartland and Clovelly! It is a lovely film from the book of the same name, by Mary Anne Schaffer and Annie Barrows, her niece. It was a real honour to have been chosen as a location and thank you to the cameramen for depicting Hartland so beautifully. To see Clovelly as St Peter Port, Guernsey was a real triumph of modern technology!


The ‘Peabodies’ as we call them have all grown enormously and ‘Pike’, the eldest, has been showing off his new tail incessantly – he is so proud of it. The girls are looking rather bored of him but Spring is very much in the Peacock air and we hope for more chicks this year as long as we can defeat the foxes and badgers who sadly love eating peacocks in any form. The Peabodies love our visitors and any left-over scones or bread are always welcome!


It won’t be long until our outdoor theatre season starts on 24th June with Wuthering Heights by Hotbuckle Theatre. This year we are lucky to be having Amy Lythgoe-Jones of @Hartland Point doing a proper barbecue for us. We will be able to buy food before the start and during the interval of performances. We will be having our usual Wine and Pimms Bar in our ageing tent!  Lets hope for a proper summer when we can all relax with our glasses of wine or Pimms on a beautiful summer evening watching some of these marvellous performances. All the details are on our Outdoor Theatre page. Thank you again to Richard Wolfenden-Brown and The Plough Arts Centre for booking these wonderful travelling theatre companies to come to the lawns of Hartland Abbey and keep us all entertained.

Tulips in the Rose Garden
Bluebell path
A German Officer at Hartland Abbey!
The best tail of all

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When the Beast doth blow….. but happily Easter is now arriving at Hartland Abbey!

A very sad daffodil!
Daffodil Day!
Rosie looking forward to Spring
Sir H busy in The Glade, Autumn 2017
Affeton Barton
Lily James filming at Hartland for 'Guernsey'
Jo and Kath's cakes in the Hartland Abbey tearoom are to die for - this is Easter!
Marjorie with her six day- old peachicks in summer 2017
Marjorie with some of the adolescents, spring 2018

Instead of decorating the Abbey with huge vases of camellias and narcissi and putting all the Quiz questions around the gardens ready for Daffodil Day on 18th March,  I was at my desk cancelling it in all the ways available to us – wonderful Radio Devon, on our website, social media and word of mouth. Hopefully the wonders of modern technology worked as we couldn’t bear to think of hardy folk turning up only to find the gates closed. The weather forecast was just too bad with snow and cold winds from the east AGAIN; the car park was anyway almost waterlogged (and frozen)! The daffodils were hanging their heads in rather a depressed way so with all this we took the decision to cancel. Only once since 1996 have we cancelled anything before – a waterlogged Snowdrop Sunday many years ago. We are not quitters but we really felt it was the right decision; as it was we were totally vindicated as Sunday was horrendous with a lot of snow for Hartland, drifts on the A39 and roads closed everywhere.

We have postponed until next Sunday 25th March when hopefully everything will be looking more beautiful and something called SPRING will have arrived with the cold winds from Russia a distant memory! The mimosa in The Bog Garden is really beautiful, the camellias are gallantly flowering in full profusion and the orchard is a golden carpet of daffodils. Delicious warming food will be on offer in the Tea Room; poor Kath and Jo wasted so much last weekend.

So much has been achieved this winter by our small team despite endless flu and colds. Richard, our two-day-a-week decorator and miracle builder, was off for two weeks with a stinker but nevertheless has done wonders! New fire doors have had to go in which we did not want but Fire regs are Fire regs these days. We hated the idea but the house is much warmer as they have stopped the worst of the draughts! He has painted the exhibition passage, the Tea Rooms and the Ladies loos so all will be looking fresh for the new season.  And the really good news is the NEW CARPETS! We have not had a new carpet almost since the War! But now wonderful Braddicks of Bideford have laid the most beautiful, paeony red carpet all the way up the front stairs, along the landing and down the back stairs. Our visitors had been commenting on thread-bare carpets, something that we had hardly noticed! But now it all looks so smart – we are so thrilled!

Carol spends the winter spring cleaning, dressed in about two coats and a woolly hat to keep warm in the house! She had a nasty fright one morning when she met ‘The Beast from the East’ coming into the Front Hall, under the door! Dave and Leighton have spent most of the winter sawing up fallen trees from many of the awful gales that have been so prevalent this winter. We have also had to have tree surgeons cutting off unsafe branches from many of the old trees near the paths and walks. All money out unfortunately….! But we will have plenty of logs! I am afraid there is still a mess to clear up but Rome wasn’t built in a day! We thank everyone – Nigel, Sam, Dave and Leighton for their fantastic work in the garden all through this awful winter. Theresa for her sterling administrative work and Carol and Anne in the house. Ellie doing social media. Thank you all and everyone else who supports us in every way.

We had great fun in the autumn clearing two overgrown parts of the garden. A massive tryffid had taken over a part of the Shrubbery and bramble and ivy of Himalayan proportions had taken over the wall at the Top of the Bog Garden. Clearing things at Hartland is always risky and of course the Atlantic winds found a new way in and brought more trees down! But ‘The Glade’ is already looking lovely and hopefully all the newly planted rhododendrons and azaleas will flower. It should make a lovely, warm place to sit. The grass surprisingly has germinated in the winter and is still alive after the freeze-ups.

We have been very busy getting our new holiday let ready for 2018. Affeton Barton had been the Home Farmhouse for centuries and latterly, for the past forty years, home to our shepherd. When he died two years ago we decided to bring it into the 21st century and it is now a really comfortable place to stay. It has all the advantages of the beautiful Affeton estate with wonderful walking, fishing, bicycling, swimming and a hard tennis court. It is in spectacular, rolling country between Exmoor and Dartmoor, a world away from the rush of modern living but with all mod cons!

Peter and Kieren, two of our fantastic house stewards, have, during the winter put together a really special visual history of the Abbey and the estate for all to see. It is so kind of them and will be such a bonus to visitors. Theresa, our Administrator,  has been reading through old family diaries and has found one on Sir George and Lady Stucley’s honeymoon in the late 1800s. It is going to be displayed later in the season and is a fabulous account of travels in Europe at this time with some hilarious sketches.

We are all looking forward to ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ being released in the cinemas on April 20th. Partly filmed on the Hartland Abbey estate in May 2017, it stars Lily James, Micheal Huisman, Jessica Brown-Finlay, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton. We think it is going to be a wonderful film set in some stunning North Devon scenery. Having watched some of the very realistic filming, Guernsey must have been a terrifying place to have been in the War.

Also filmed at Hartland, in and around Blackpool Mill Cottage last year, is a short film which has just come out called ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’. Produced by Alastair Gourlay, it stars Clive Russell of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame. Poor things had the most awful weather to film in and the place became a mud bath. They worked so hard and we wish them every success.

Last summer Marjorie, our peahen, hatched six chicks. The previous summer she had hatched only one, Pike, her adoring son! Happily, so far, these chicks have survived the winter and are now her adolescent children! A fox was seen in the snow this week so we are hoping for the best. Sadly in 2017 Dave and Carol lost their adorable Westie, Holly, such a character and so popular with all our visitors,  always seen riding the lawnmower with Dave. She is missed hugely by us all and our visitors. She was a big part of the Abbey team!

Now the season is starting and we are open from this Sunday 25th. Next weekend is Easter with so much fun for families and children with the Easter Egg Hunts! The Easter Eggs have arrived…… We look forward to welcoming back old friends and we hope to see lots of new visitors in 2018. Hugh and Angela Stucley March 2018

Carol admiring the beautiful new carpet!
Leighton digging up tryffids autumn 2017
Affeton Barton kitchen
Pete fixing up his new display of Hartland Abbey history much to the amusement of Carol, Kieran and Theresa
Jessica Brown-Finlay in the Park at Hartland Abbey
Dave and Holly

Bluebells, tulips and Easter eggs have arrived at Hartland Abbey!

Bluebell path
Tulip 'Burnt Sugar'
Beautiful tulip 'Antraciet'
Inquisitive Guinea Fowl by the front steps
Pike with his mother, Marjorie

It is only early April but things are really stirring in the valley at Hartland Abbey! The daffodils and narcissi have been better than we have ever seen but are almost over now except the deliciously scented ‘Geranium’, one of the latest of all. The tulips in the Walled Gardens and all the pots around are bursting into flower in the most glorious riot of colours. Just as, sadly, the narcissi are fading new life is erupting to put on a show of glittering, jewel-like beauty! They are so early I worry how long they will be with us in this glorious, summery weather. The camellias too are putting on a fantastic display with some huge heads on the later ones above the Fernery. We have cleared some ponticum so that they are easier to see. The azaleas and rhododendrons are all coming out in the Bog Garden; the Shrubbery hopefully will be a little later.

The bluebells have burst forth too and the valley is turning bright blue again. Violets, primroses and wild anemones accompany them and the gorse and blackthorn on the steep slopes above Blackpool Mill Cottage are a wonderful sight. It is such a great time of year to visit Hartland Abbey! Our visitors are telling us how beautiful the bluebells are looking now – just the right time for a wonderful Easter display.

Easter eggs are in the larder keeping cool, all ready for our Easter Egg Hunts on Easter Sunday and Monday! It is so difficult to know how many to order as we have no idea yet what the weather will be! But hopefully we have enough for all the children who so love the fun of Easter!

Kath and Jo will be cooking up some special Easter treats in the Tea Room. They are always look so tempting and are so delicious they are hard to resist!  Marjorie, our white peahen, and her son, Malcolm, love being around our visitors and are always grateful for crumbs under the outside tables. Malcolm is growing a tail of which he is immensely proud! But every time I try to photograph him when he is strutting his stuff he becomes very embarrassed and puts it down. So if anyone can get a good photo we would love to see it! Hopefully Marjorie will sit again this spring and perhaps produce more than one chick, and a girl would be very welcome!

Blackpool Mill Cottage and The Bear have both been spring cleaned, painted and in The Bear smart new lamps in the Sitting Room and the main bedroom look really good. There is a busy season ahead so it is so important that everything is spick and span now. We look forward to welcoming guests throughout the summer.

All the family will be with us for Easter so there is a lot of bedmaking and cooking going on! Our dear Scudamore granddaughters had the time of their life at Aintree yesterday when Lucinda Russell, partner of their paternal grandfather, Peter Scudamore, trained ‘One for Arthur’, winner of this year’s Grand National and they were lucky enough to be included at the prizegiving, a moment they will never forget!

Lets hope for some more beautiful weather and a good summer! Angela Stucley

Malcolm's first tail!
Alice in the bluebells
Beautiful wild anemones
Wild orchids
The Bear in Stoke
Blackpool Mill sitting room

Latest news from Hartland Abbey

Carol, Hartland Abbey housekeeper, with the Gold Award in 2016!
Alastair Gourlay, Producer, Clive Russell and Hugh Stucley
Blackpool Mill in 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place'
Producer with Adam Buxton
Putting up the weird tent on the Warren!
Outdoor Theatre on the lawn
Part of the huge set of Lady Hamilton china given to the Abbey
Double pink camellia in the Bog garden
The primroses will be out too!

A bad cold and horrid weather is a good moment to update the Hartland Abbey blog, well overdue after a busy 2016 which culminated in a proud moment for us when, in October, we won The North Devon Journal Gold Award for the best Country House and/or Garden in North Devon.

It was a hugely proud moment for us at the Award Ceremony at the Barnstaple Hotel. To us this award is a recognition of the hard work by our small team who do so much to look after the house and gardens, provide delicious refreshments, look after our visitors and do their best to give everyone the best possible experience. We are so grateful to all our staff and room stewards. Theresa, our administrator, puts every ounce of her energy into looking after the coach parties and individual visitors to make sure everyone, even the least mobile, have an enjoyable time.

The interest generated from BBC’s ‘The Night Manager’ resulted in a huge number of people visiting the Abbey and walking down to Blackpool Mill cottage where it was filmed. We were thrilled that it won three Golden Globe awards; we were certainly gripped by it!

Much to our surprise the autumn was also very busy with the media. Marks and Spencer chose the Hartland Abbey Estate to shoot their online autumn catalogue. The rusty hues of autumn in the stunning scenery provided a great backdrop for their very stylish clothes. Even Rosie, our terrier, managed to get herself into some pictures! The production team stayed at Hartland Quay; Blackpool Mill and Spekes valley were the locations.

Following this Blackpool Mill cottage was used again as a film location, this time for an online, short 45 minute film. The cottage had been painted in the summer and was looking particularly smart, that is until the film company, on purpose, ‘mucked it up’! Oh dear, we could have cried! Our beautiful cottage was surrounded by heaps of junk, the outside walls were covered in grime, and it looked disgusting, in and out, with some very good special effects from the art department! Having read the plot, ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’, produced by Alastair Gourlay of Park Drive Productions and starring Clive Russell of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame, promises to be a gripping production. They were a lovely production team and we wish them every success when the film comes out online. The cottage is almost back to normal..!

BBC’s ‘Escape to the Country’ was filmed with us in the autumn. A couple were looking to buy a house locally and they were brought to see a local attraction. Hopefully the photography will be good.

Prior to this an eccentric Channel 4 pilot production, starring Adam Buxton, chose The Warren, above Hartland Quay, to shoot something on camping in a new fangled tent that lies on top of your car! I watched for a bit only to see Adam and the crew becoming more and more confused as to how to put this thing up! It certainly wouldn’t have survived a stormy night!

Our outdoor theatre productions, in conjunction with The Plough Arts Centre, were a huge success with Hartland Abbey gaining the largest audiences in North Devon. And we stayed dry! We have gained a reputation as a good ‘stage’, against the backdrop of the house, (also a shelter from the worst weather!) with diverse productions suiting all ages and tastes. With our bar and barbecue, free entry to the beautiful grounds a couple of hours before the start, it makes a lovely, relaxing treat. This summer we have some really exciting productions coming to entertain us all, which you will find on our ‘Events’ page. Sadly Mr and Mrs Crackling, barbecuers for the last five years, have hung up their trotters and we are looking for new people to provide a really good barbecue. If you are interested please contact us.

We were very fortunate to be contacted by a local couple, Alan and Pauline Whittle, who wanted to donate their huge collection of ‘Lady Hamilton’ porcelain to us to display. This china has been much appreciated by our visitors and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

We had a lovely birth in the summer when Marjorie, our only, white, peahen, hatched a solitary egg. A tiny white chick emerged. Hoping for a girl, of course it was a boy! They are inseparable and we pray they survive our fox problem; foxes have eaten nearly all our other peafowl. Originally eleven, now only four survive.

The Library has had new chair covers, making it look very smart – the old ones were worn out!  Richard Johns and Leighton Jeffery, our maintenance team have worked so hard this year. The wall and the old, mediaeval roof in the Courtyard have been restored; the Piggery wall has had all the ivy removed and the walls capped with beach stones.  Fire doors have had to be put in in three places. This has saddened us as we feel that with an old house like Hartland Abbey anything modern looks totally out of place. But it will help to put our minds at rest as the fire at Clandon House completely gutted the house and everything was lost, something every historic house owner dreads. But we will now be able to open the downstair passage to visitors before the house itself opens, enabling visitors to see most of the exhibition areas from 11am. On wet days this could be a huge bonus.

In summer 2016 we opened two new exhibitions in the old Housekeeper’s Room, last used during the war and since fallen into decay. This has made a wonderful, light exhibition space, open from 11am as part of the garden ticket. Two displays, ‘The History of the Hartland Abbey Estate’ and ‘ Filming on the Hartland Abbey Estate since 1934’ are proving popular and well received on wet days! We were very fortunate to have been partially grant funded by the AONB in this project and we thank them for their generous support. I would particularly like to thank Gigha Klinkenborg and Dave Edgecombe of the AONB for their support and encouragement for our project.

Christmas was a lovely family time when we were all together without the worry of day to day work. The grandchildren are all growing so fast that we are being dwarfed already! My mother celebrated her 95th birthday very lately; she is an amazing person who still has vivid memories of her part she played as an officer in the WRNS in the War, in Harwich, Gibraltar, Algiers and Naples, for which she was decorated, as was my father for his part at El Alamein, now sadly dead for almost 25 years.

Bluebell and Snowdrop, the donkeys are wintering well at the farm with their old horse friend! They have a lovely shed, deep in straw, which they almost never go into, preferring to get thoroughly soaked instead! They also live with the black sheep, bantams and chickens in a beautiful part of Devon overlooking Dartmoor and Exmoor from their fields! Not a bad life….. Soon they will return to Hartland to entertain our visitors. We are hoping to find a husband for them very soon but we only want a small, beautiful chap so if you know one please let us know!

We look forward to welcoming our visitors in 2017 and hope we will have a proper summer this year. We hope to have a lovely new holiday let up and running later in the spring in the farmhouse at Affeton with the swimming pool and tennis court; all details will be posted on our website. We have got lots of exciting events coming up starting with Daffodil Sunday on 12th March. The daffodils are already appearing and the camellias are in full flower. We are trying to deadhead all the hydrangeas before Daffodil Sunday – a huge task with about 200 to do! Angela Stucley February 2017

Hopefully Tony will be back to welcome everybody!
Marks and Sparks film shoot with Rosie
M & S shooting at Spekes Waterfall, Hartland Abbey Estate
Blackpool Mill in the M & S advert
Escape to the Country cast and crew
A corner of the Film Exhibition
Guests at the opening of the Film Exhibition
Marjorie and her son!
Come to our Daffodil Sunday!
Beautiful hydrangeas in the shrubbery
Richard Johns mending the Courtyard wall in the autumn

After the gales, spring is coming

Ladies Walk after Storm Imogen
Ladies Walk after Storm Imogen

For the past few years now January and February have thrown terrible weather at Hartland. This winter has been one of incessant rain, making it very difficult to garden and making the walks and parking lawn into bogs! We used to be able to have Snowdrop Sunday around 6th February but again this year it would have been impossibly wet an made far worse by

Hydrangeas in happier times
Hydrangeas in happier times

the arrival of Storm Imogen on the Sunday. The waves at Hartland Quay were massive but thankfully the hotel emerged unscathed. Imogen hit us really hard on February 7th and 8th bringing down old oak trees, blocking the front drive and the Ladies Walk completely. We had lost a huge, old sycamore earlier in the winter in the Shrubbery which provided wonderful shade to the hydrangeas. It was particularly beautiful with a mass of harts tongue ferns growing from its huge, old branches. It is so sad; its loss has ruined a part of the garden and as ever, hugely expensive to get cut up and removed. But life has to go on…..


Mrs Maynards Room
Mrs Maynards Room


During the winter our new recruit to the team, Richard Johns, has created a brilliant new exhibition space in what was ‘Mrs Maynard’s Room’. During the war it was the housekeeper’s room which must have been hard for her as it was miles from the nearest bath and loo! We are planning a display in here on the history of the Hartland Abbey Estate together with a television film on the family. Next door will be our 2016 exhibition of ‘Filming on the Hartland Abbey Estate since 1950’

Dan Stevens at Hartland Abbey
Dan Stevens at Hartland Abbey

covering all the filming including ‘Water’ with Michael Caine, Billy Connolly and Leonard Rossiter, ‘An Element of Doubt’ with Nigel Havers and Gina McKee, ‘The Shout’ with Alan Bates and Julie Christie up until the recentfilms of ‘The Shell Seekers’, BBC’s Sense and Sensibility’ and BBC’s latest, and brilliant, ‘The Night Manager’ with Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman, filmed here in April 2015.

Sunday 28th February sees the second episode of ‘The Night Manager’ on BBC1 at 9pm in which Hartland village and Blackpool Mill cottage will feature. The first episode was so good that all

Tom Hiddleston filming The Night Manager
Tom Hiddleston filming The Night Manager

of us at Hartland Abbey are eagerly awaiting Sunday evening. After the exotic locations of Egypt and Zermatt, Blackpool Mill will bring us all firmly back to earth! It seems ages ago that the whole film unit moved in to the Abbey car park for the week

of filming.

Our first event of the year is Mothering Sunday on 6th March which will be a great opportunity to

Rosie at The Summerhouse
Rosie at The Summerhouse

visit the Abbey and gardens at a reduced rate before the main season starts. There are lots of lovely flowers appearing in the gardens to herald the start of spring, thank goodness! Magnolias, tree rhododendrons, camellias, daffodils and narcissi, scillas, hellebores, wild primroses and even the first bluebell has been spotted a month early. The family Treasure Hunt is always fun and keeps everyone well exercised including the dogs. We then open for the season on Good Friday, with Easter Egg Hunts on Easter Sunday and Monday.

Stunning Apricot Tulips
Stunning Apricot Tulips

We then have lots more exciting events. Bluebell Sundays on 17th and 24th April are always fun with the carpets of blue leading to the sea and the rhododendrons in full swing. On May 1st we have the gruelling Hartland Hartbreaker Run in aid of the wonderful Children’s Hospice South West. May is also Tulip Time in the Abbey Walled Gardens with, hopefully, a stunning display of tulips in all colours. Then we go into the Outdoor Theatre Season in July in conjunction with the Plough Arts Centre, Torrington. This year we have some fabulous treats ahead: Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl, performed by Illyria; Gullivers Travels performed by The Pantaloons with a Family Arts Afternoon beforehand; Shakespeare in the form of Hamlet performed by

Hartland Abbey Outdoor Theatre
Hartland Abbey Outdoor Theatre

The Festival Players; Ratburger by David Walliams, performed by Heartbreak Productions; A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by Illyria and lastly, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, performed by Heartbreak. So, hopefully, something for everybody! We welcome back Mr Crackling (Trevor and Emma Shere) with their delicious barbecues and we will have our bar.


Hartland Quay
Hartland Quay

It was a huge shock and great sadness last summer when Chris and Jill Johns told us they were leaving Hartland Quay Hotel as Managers. They were the third generation of the Johns family to have run the Quay since 1963 when Chris’s grandfather took on the lease of the hotel. Hartland Quay Hotel is part of the Hartland Abbey Estate. Chris and Jill have done a wonderful job welcoming thousands of guests over the years and have worked extremely hard doing everything from shoreing up the cliff and mending the roof after storms to running a welcoming place to stay, eat and drink. They have been supported by their marvellous and loyal staff. We thank them for all they have done. They will be sorely missed but we are extremely lucky to have Donal and Sarah Stafford taking on as Managers. Donal and Sarah are local to Hartland and have great experience of the hotel trade. Sarah has set up her own successful business running The Old Bakery Coffee Shop in Hartland which will continue to provide welcome refreshment in the Square. We wish both them and Chris and Jill our very best wishes for their futures.

We are all busy preparing the house and gardens for what we hope will be a busy season with our fair share of good

Dave raking the drive
Dave raking the drive

weather. Leighton and Dave have been cutting the laurels back on the road to make sure there is plenty of room for the coaches to come in. There is still a lot of sprucing up to do before Mothering Sunday as it has been quite impossible to mow the lawns

Marjorie on the windowsill
Marjorie on the windowsill

up until now but Dave, Nigel and Sam have been working flat out in the gardens while Carol has been wielding the hoover and dusters with gusto! Theresa meanwhile prepares to welcome many coachloads of visitors throughout the summer who will no doubt be well fed and nourished by the wonderful team of Kath and Jo in the tearooms. No-one can resist their delicious cakes and cream teas…. Marjorie, the peahen, looks forward to any crumbs under the table! The donkeys, Becky and Snowdrop, are waiting for the blacksmith to do their feet before returning to Hartland from their overwintering at the farm.

We look forward to opening the gates on Sunday 6th and welcoming our visitors for 2016! We thank our wonderful hardworking team here for their support to us. We look forward to welcoming back all our part time house stewards and those who work so hard in the kiosk to welcome our visitors; we miss their company during the winter and are always so pleased to see them back along with new helpers to our close knit team.

Finally we hope our 2016 Hartland Abbey leaflet will be popular. In recognition of the huge support given to us by our Dutch visitors year on year we have designed it in the good orange of the national colour of Holland. We hope it will be easily discernible in the leaflet racks!

Hugh and Angela Stucley February 2016