Daffodil Day here we come – and a catch up on 2023!

Inquisitive peacock!
Maxine cobwebbing!
Kath deep cleaning Tea Room kitchen!
Filming Malory Towers June 2023
Filming at Blackpool Mill in awful weather July 23
Leighton and Andy making the stumpery Feb 2024
Jake picking apples Sept 23
Dear Becky and Snowdrop love meeting our visitors!
Dick painting the garden doors 'Venetian Green'
Phlox and crocosmia 'Lucifer' in the Rose Garden
The stunning coastline at St Catherine's Tor
The grill room at Hartland Quay has smart new tongue and groove on the walls!
Water Water everywhere Feb 24
Wild thrift at Blackpool Mill

We are so looking forward to welcoming our visitors for Daffodils and Mother’s Day on 10th March. Hopefully the daffodils, chionodoxa, hellebores, lots of camellias and much more will be looking wonderful along the walks and the Walled Garden will be springing into life.

We are all very busy trying to get ready – so much of the garden yet to tidy up, hundreds of hydrangeas to deadhead, springcleaning in the house to finish, the tearoom to prepare, painting still to be done and all the damage to clear up after the gales – it’s endless! We have a brilliant but very small team to do the work of twice as many people at least! We are hugely grateful to them all for their hard work. We are so lucky being next to the sea in many ways but it brings enormous problems with the Atlantic gales hitting us full on! We always dread what damage the next gale will bring. Easter is early this year so the season proper starts soon, on 24th March; we hope to see lots of Easter bunny hunters over the Easter weekend!

2023 flew by!  It started with a second hip replacement for Leighton who has worked for the family for over 50 years and is still a vital member of our team. Our past and regular guests at Blackpool Mill and the Bear will know Leighton well – he can mend anything including the roof at Blackpool after the storms! Being extremely fit for his age he was back to work very quickly to help out in the busy months. He is the only person who knows how everything works both inside and outside and is now passing on vital information to the next generation of Andy and Jake! Visitors will often see him and his little red tractor chugging along!

The 2023 season started with a successful Daffodil Day on Mothering Sunday thanks to lots of kind supporters. It is always a great opportunity to visit before the season proper starts and see so many lovely camellias and early spring flowers flowering. I feel sad that our visitors miss the mimosas flowering now and the chimonanthus  in the winter which fills the Kitchen garden with the most wonderful scent. 2024 Daffodil Day is a week earlier to coincide with Mother’s Day – let’s hope for a sunny day!

2023 was memorable for the Coronation. It was such a special weekend of celebrations with the extra bank holiday for people to enjoy. We send the King our very best wishes for a full recovery at this difficult time.

We had a visit from Kingsley School from Bideford in the summer. One of our granddaughters was in her last term and they all came for a walk and a picnic. It was a lovely day and they had the added bonus of watching ‘Malory Towers’ being filmed.

We were so lucky to have had the wonderful cast and crew of ‘Malory Towers’ back to film series 5 last June and are hoping we may see them again ….! (I am not putting up a better image as I mustn’t give away the plot!). They are such a wonderful team who we have got to know so well over the years. They were blessed with boiling hot weather in June but then the heavens opened and never stopped! We are eagerly awaiting the new series appearing on iPlayer and CBBC! Our grandaughter was an extra.  The film crew left behind some stepping ‘logs’ leading to the huge thuja in the Shrubbery – a popular natural playground loved by our young visitors! Lots of lovely fans came to see the location in the summer holidays, some dressed in Malory Towers school uniform looking just like Darrell, Gwendoline and their friends! We were lucky to have more filming as well – ‘Our Lady Jane’ for Amazon at Hartland Quay, ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn starring Gillian Anderson and Jason Isaacs on the coastal path and a psychological thriller ‘Speak No Evil’ filmed at Blackpool Mill starring James McAvoy. All to appear on screen this year.

In July Paul Higham, the ‘Country Life’ photographer came to take pictures of the Abbey for a future article. We are looking forward to seeing this in the future but as yet we don’t know when. Fern expert Martin Rickard, the author of many books on the subject, made a private visit in the summer. It was fun showing him the Fernery and all the self sown baby tree ferns.

We were inundated by our family in the summer holidays. It was enormous fun. The beaches at Hartland are such wonderful natural playgrounds for all generations. The surf can be amazing, the rock pools fascinating from an early age; summer picnics on the beach are legendary. It is a lovely time to be reunited as a family with every bedroom in the Abbey full!

We had an end of season party for our staff and seasonal house stewards in October, just after we closed. It is a lovely time to catch up and have a good chat as there is never time while we are open. They do so much, led by Theresa, our indefatigable administrator, to help our visitors and try to ensure they have an enjoyable time and get the best out of their visit. It was lovely to see Carol and Dave again. They had looked after the Abbey for almost thirty years before well earned retirement in 2022. Normally we have a tea party but this time it was lasagne and apple crumble which seemed to be very popular – apples from the orchard! We had the most amazing crop of apples in 2023 and it seemed as though we spent all September picking! We replanted the Abbey orchard some years ago with old varieties – Cornish Gilliflower, Poltimore Seedling, Pitmaston Pineapple, Oaken Pin, Don’s Delight, Bramley Seedling, Lord Derby, Woolbrook Pippin, Tidicombe Seedling and George Cave amongst others. Andy and Jake being taller and younger than us did sterling work picking all the higher ones! Then we had to wash them all before taking them off to be made into the most delicious juice which we will hopefully sell in the shop. We need one of our granddaughters to design an attractive label but we are still waiting…!

The donkeys have had a lovely winter being pampered back at the farm and eating their way through the most delicious hay, made by our neighbour in June when it was so hot. The result is the best hay, sweet smelling and green which they love!

Nigel, Sam, Andy, Jake and Leighton have been working hard to get the gardens and grounds ready for the season. The tulips were planted back in November. We are hoping for a vibrant display but everything small with four legs has done its best to eat them or dig them up! Gardening is never easy….Dick has done an amazing job mending the green garden doors which were mostly rotten and painting them a lovely Venetian green. Then the loos were given new coats of paint – much needed! Hopefully everyone will be happy! He is now mending the Conservatory which has almost been blown away and is thoroughly rotten! It was put up many years ago by Sir Hugh’s mother as a refuge when the house was open – in those days the garden was closed. Now thankfully it is used by everyone caught in the rain as somewhere to shelter.

Maxine, our housekeeper, is polishing and polishing anything in her sight – hopefully our visitors will notice the results of her work! She has many talents including running the Gift Shop – she is very good at displaying things in an attractive way! Max wears about ten layers of clothes in the winter as the house is so cold for working in…She is amazingly cheerful through the darkest days of winter. She has help from Anne during the season for a couple of hours a day, who, like Max is a brilliant cleaner! The Abbey is such a difficult house to look after especially when it is muddy outside. That is why we ask our visitors to put on blue overshoes when it is wet as otherwise it is impossible to get the mud off our lovely red carpet.

The gardens were so pretty in 2023 and we are hoping for more stunning displays this year! Nigel is a brilliant gardener and does his best to keep the Walled Gardens really looking good with regular deadheading and staking.  The weather makes such a difference, particularly to our displays of annuals which don’t much like rain and are much happier basking in the sun. So let’s hope! Unfortunately we can’t do a thing about the wind when it comes and we just hope it will leave us alone in the summer. We have definitely noticed a difference lately with so much more rain and wind though Hartland never had much in the way of frost being so close to the sea. At the moment the ground is completely saturated but Andy has done a great job keeping all the gullies running freely. We always used to have Snowdrop Sundays until the changing climate made it impossible for cars to park on the grass.

The holiday cottages are looking good and are booking up. They are all very different. We do still have some weeks available. all their details are on our website under Cottages. They are a great base for exploring our amazing coastline.

We have just ‘done up’ the rather ageing ‘Grill Room’ at Hartland Quay. For years it had had old ‘bumpy’ wallpaper, a hangover from the 1960s! But now, thanks to Dick’s excellent carpentry, it has tongue and grooved walls in ‘Whimsey’ green and is looking very welcoming! The bar has been painted the same colour, much improved too! Donal and Sarah Stafford do a wonderful job welcoming visitors along with their fantastic local staff. We have also created a new website for Hartland Quay with the help of Inventive Print at Bishop’s Tawton, a brilliant local design business who help us with our Hartland Abbey leaflet and website too. We try to use everything local that we possibly can as there is a wealth of talent in North Devon.

And finally, Andy and Jake have had a big clear up in the Shrubbery and the lovely old dogs’ graves are once again easy to see. Particularly poignant is the grave of ‘Bruce, a good spaniel’ who died in 1910. He belonged to my husband’s great uncle and Aunt who lived at the Abbey at the time and were responsible for much of the design of the gardens and walks for which we are so grateful today.

Please do look at our Events calendar and you can now download our 2024 leaflet at the bottom of our Home page for information. We wish you a happy 2024 and hope we may see you one day at Hartland Abbey! Dogs are really welcome too….Thank you if you have visited us before and hope to see you again, Angela Stucley February 2024





Mimosa in the Bog Garden
Leighton moving stumps with his v modern tractor - Feb 24!
Jo and Theresa sanding the Tea Room tables
Some lovely stepping logs thanks to Malory Towers..!
New stumps found in the parkland
Our Staff and Stewards party in October
Pitmaston Pineapple really tastes of pineapple!
Nigel dwarfed by the echiums in the summer!
Tulips in the Rose Garden April 2023
Vibrant Rudbeckias and Nicotiana in the Veg garden autumn 2023
The grave of 'Bruce, a good spaniel' who died in 1910
Hartland Abbey with the autumn sun on the Boston Ivy

Spring 2023 is in the air!

The Abbey in December 2022
Mimosa in the Bog Garden in January
Theresa with some of our wonderful team of stewards
Filming at Hartland Quay for Malory Towers Christmas Special in 33 degrees in July 22!
The Front Hall decorated for Christmas at Malory Towers!
Apples Oaken Pin and Lord Derby
Andy and Jake clearing undergrowth at the Summerhouse
The Hartbreaker returned!

Spring 2023 is in the air!

Oh dear! I have always wanted to do a monthly blog but there is just too much to do in the house and garden, cooking, family, animals  and everyday survival to have the time to sit down,  bar once a year! A damp day is just the time to do it. Mimosa in full bloom in the Bog garden, filling the air with its mediterranean scent, snowdrops and crocuses on the lawn and many camellias flowering their hearts out have filled me with inspiration! Hopefully the daffodils and spring flowers will be looking their best for Daffodil Sunday on 19th March. Nigel, Sam, Andy and Jake have been working hard to get the gardens and grounds looking good. Hartland is a terrible place to keep a garden tidy in winter with the worst the Atlantic can throw at it! My mother in law used to tell me that Hartland was frost free – I think to encourage me to love gardening here- but in December the  temperature fell to -10 for over a week! Although not masses of snow it was intensely cold with enough snow to come through our brand new roof when it thawed – onto a new bed – not what we had hoped for! I am worried about our tree ferns who hate intense cold…It was impossible to walk around outside, it was like a skating rink even on the lawn. Thankfully the donkeys were back at the farm where they have a big shed with lots of straw.

2022 started with builders once again; the roof over the front door was leaking and the historic lack of bathrooms was something my husband and I had always wanted to redress under our stewardship before the next generation takes over! Our bathrooms were miles from bedrooms and it is jolly cold walking 50 yards in the dark and cold of winter to the nearest loo! So we now have two new ensuite bathrooms, a first for the Abbey, but not unfortunately near our bedroom! Ongoing maintenance, inside and out, is non stop with Dick and Leighton doing their best to keep on top of the painting, clearing fallen trees and everything throughout the year. The geranium greenhouse is in the throes of having a new roof, the rotten garden doors need mending… Blackpool Mill cottage, being so close to the sea, forever needs tlc… Its always all go!

Theresa, our administrator, had been waiting ages during covid for a new hip. Eventually she was called just as we were about to open for the season which was not very convenient but we were thrilled for her as she was such an athletic person reduced to being on a stick. Our wonderful small team was amazing and stepped in to help and we survived! In the autumn we welcomed Jake part time to help with maintenance. Jake will be familiar to our house visitors; he has been stewarding in the house, often greeting visitors in the front hall on arrival. He has now left college and is a jolly good pair of young hands! Maxine and Andy continue to do a great job in the house and outdoors. Max runs the shop on weekdays.

The producers of Malory Towers returned in May for a recce and confirmed that they were going to make Series 4 and a Christmas special at the Abbey which was very exciting. Filming started in June until mid July; we were blessed with incredible weather which became very challenging when the cast had to be dressed in thickest winter clothes for the Christmas scenes! One day, filming in the Hartland Quay car park, Matron, Miss Grayling, Darrel, Gwendoline and Bill, in overcoats and hats, had to endure 33 degrees! Series 4 comes out soon but the brilliant Malory Towers Christmas Special is on iplayer. They are an amazing cast and crew and we all feel like one big family! The only downside was after the wrap party we both caught covid, for the first time, and couldn’t go on holiday to France – the first time we were going away in over two years!  We hope soon to display in the Abbey lots of behind the scenes images of Series 2, 3, and the Christmas Special – and Series 4 after it is released – we mustn’t give away any secrets! Series 1 is already on display. Thanks to the filming we were able to have new curtains made for the Dining Room! The lovely old pale blue silk ones were in shreds so it was not before time. Beautifully made by Sue Macdonald, one of our longest serving stewards and a brilliant seamstress, we are thrilled!

The Hartland Hartbreaker Run returned in May, after two missed years,  on a beastly wet day but lots of runners took part in this gruelling marathon in order to raise money for the Children’s Hospice Southwest, such a worthy cause. It is returning again this year – see events page if you would like to take part.  Another to return was the painting of Louisa Granville, my husband’s great grandmother. She had been away to be cleaned and now looks wonderful again in her beautiful silk dress and some lovely flowers have appeared which we could never see before. She hangs in the Billiard Room.

We had a wonderful crop of apples in the autumn in the orchard. Oaken Pin and Woolbrook Pippin are old fashioned, delicious eaters. Oaken Pin is distinctively egg shaped. We mixed them with Don’s Delight, William Crump and Bramleys and took them off in sacks to be made into juice. We were thrilled with this mix and now the challenge is to make the juice last until this autumn as it is terribly popular with our family! Hopefully we will make more juice this year so we can sell some in the shop. It is absolutely pure with no additives and tastes like nectar! Other garden highlights were the wonderful display of tulips and the lovely annuals in the Kitchen Garden. We hope this year for another dazzling display but the hot weather last year was perfect for the annuals!

We were so lucky as a family to have all been together last Christmas for the first time in three years. Our family mean so much and its not often we can all be together at the same time. I was lucky to have the help of a very domesticated granddaughter before Christmas and together we made 200 mince pies – all were eaten! We were about 20 for most meals and at least ten dogs!

We look forward to this year with lots of exciting events, listed on our Events page. Everyone is working very hard to get the Abbey and gardens looking good for the season. Leighton badly needs two new hips which we hope he will get soon. He has spent the winter bravely cutting up fallen trees, most notably the big oak in the park which fell down one hot day in July. It has always been a loved friend who we saw every day from our bedroom window. Another sad loss is one of the remaining pair of guinea fowl who must be about 20 years old now. He hates being alone and now thinks he is a peacock but two new friends are arriving very soon!

We would like to thank everyone in our small team for all their hard work keeping the Abbey and the gardens going. Without their kindness and dedication we would be lost! We are getting older and can’t do as much now anno domini is catching up! Kath and Jo did a wonderful job last year feeding all our visitors so brilliantly with their delicious home made food especially their amazingly scrumptious cakes! Also huge thanks to everyone who has visited the Abbey whether as individuals or groups. It is you who keep the Abbey going for future generations of family and visitors to enjoy. We appreciate your support so much; we have loved meeting so many interesting  people over the years and hope to see many of you again. And all the dogs too! Thank you all. Angela Stucley February 2023

Becky and Snowdrop wintering at the farm
Rosie in the orchard daffodils March 2022
Daffodils on the lawn 2023
'Escape to the Country' filming in May 22
Annuals in the Kitchen Garden
Louisa Granville returns!
Sue and Andy putting up the lovely new curtains
Our lovely tulips in 2022
Max getting No 2 bedroom ready for opening again
Dick mending garden doors

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