In Search of a Herefordshire Childhood
Visiting Eye Manor, Herefordshire author Jeremy Sandford’s childhood home, and with excursions to the places
important in his life then -
Croft Castle, Berrington Hall, Croft Ambry, and many others.
by Jeremy Sandford
and the Time Walk Team
The past is a different country. As the years go by, I come to realise how much I both am the same as I was as a boy fifty years ago, but also how much I have changed.
Then I saw nothing unusual in the life I lived, growing up at Eye Manor. Now I realise that it was in many ways unusual and also in many ways very special.
I want to return to that lost world of my youth - a journey of rediscovery, a return to Eye Manor in Herefordshire, telling the story through;
* the voices of the many people who remember my parents and myself and my sisters in those far off years,
* the voices of those, from a slightly earlier period, who remember being in the home guard with my father, and the period when he was building secret military hideouts throughout the country,
* the journals and possibly poems that I wrote about my life then, read by someone the age I was then,
* my own comments now, visiting the places that bring back memories on this time walk,
* poems and texts from the edition de luxe Golden Cockerell Press fabulous books that my father was creating at Eye Manor,
* voices of those who remember my mother as president of the Hereford and Worcester Federation of Womens Institutes and for whom she made corn dollies and banners.
Music - I played the organ in church and was already collecting and learning to play unusual instruments which crowded by panelled room at Eye.
Memories, some in poetic form, from the artists and writers who came to work with my father on the Cockerell Press books.
As I grew up, my father decided to open the house to the public.
Visits to the Crofts at Croft Castle, the Cawleys at Berrington Hall, the Dunns at Gatley, the Herefords at Hampton Court, recalled by remaining members of those families.
Daily visits to my grandmother, living in a cottage in the stable yard, with her memories of the Irish castle where my father grew up.
Sounds of Eye - curlicues, church bells, the gong that sounded us to meals, other bells, creaking floorboards, grandfather clocks, horse sounds, my father singing.
Possibly we commission a suite of songs from my former wife Philippa, evoking Eye Manor as she knew it at a later period, or a musical suite by other musicians who knew Eye.
One of the best features of the Time Walk formula is its strong sense of place so that all these memories will be linked and engendered by visits to those local places which were most important in my youth;
* Eye Manor itself with its panelled rooms and orchards and lawns and ha-ha.
* Berrington Hall with its lake and park, military hospital, then home to ‘old’ Lady Cawley, later open to the public.
* Croft Castle with the woods behind it rising to Croft Ambry.
* Kings Hall Hill where the home guard had their observation post.
* Eye church with its pipe organ and crusader tombs.
I see it as a one hour or 40 minute Time Walk evocation. My own voice as a boy (perhaps played by someone else) and as a man (played by me) is likely to be heard but not excessively.
Many people will be giving their memories of Eye. Some of these will be interviewed by me (questions cut out, most probably). But it will also be very much a group experience, in which the community of the parish of Eye also are facilitated in reliving their past.
Many interviews will be engendered by lending a tape recorder to groups (young farmers, womens institutes, local historical societies) for them to record their own memories.
I envisage some sort of tie in with Radio Hereford and Worcester as I did with my previous cassette ‘Songs from the Roadside’, which among other things would ensure that it gets broadcast. Perhaps there would be a broadcast invitation to people to come forward who would like to participate.
I envisage approaching historic homes in the area (Croft, Berrington) to ensure that they sell the cassette.
There will be participation from those who come on the walk, musicians, etc.
There may be an accompanying photographic exhibition and also works by artists caught up in the slipstream. I have an extensive collection of photographs from those days.
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