Weekly Photo Challenge : Renewal

I went back to the UK in 1990/91 to spend time with my Mother during her 90th year. To stay a full year I had to find a job. I went to London to an employment agency and found a fantastic position as live-in housekeeper at Hickstead Place equestrian centre in Sussex (here’s horses entering my life again)

Back in 1960 Douglas Bunn created this centre for show jumping and other equestrian events because of a dream/ambition to create, in England, an equestrian centre to rival the venues in Europe and give English riders a show jumping arena at home to practice and compete in.

He bought the 100 acre property with a magnificent manor house dating back to the fifteenth century. Hickstead Place had been in the same family since 1542 and when it came on the market for sale in 1960 Douglas saw it as the ideal place for his equestrian centre. Now 30 years later it had become world-renowned for international show jumping and eventing classes. They held 3 major international events a year and countless other local activities for the horse world.

Lorna Bunn, the third wife of Douglas, needed a new housekeeper. I just happened to walk into the employment agency as the request came in. A case of being in the right place at the right time….

I went for an interview and 3 days later I moved into the self-contained cottage attached to the back of the rambling 8 bedroom mansion.

So what has this to do with RENEWAL?

Be patient I am coming to that….

The formation of the equestrian centre ran parallel to my leaving the UK in 1961 and spending the next 30 years living in the sub-tropic climate of New Zealand and Australia. As the marketing slogan goes “beautiful one day, perfect the next”. Constant mild climate, at times it could be wet and windy, but no snow or frost. I had not experienced the dramatic change of seasons that I remembered from my childhood.

Now I spent a full year in the UK and relived that amazing cycle of nature. Starting from August with the trees clothed in the mantle of dyeing but colourful shades of Autumn, through the stark black and white landscape of a snow filled winter. Finally to witness the amazing RENEWAL of the countryside as spring arrived. Hickstead was magnificent in all seasons but spring took my breath away. The sweeping lawns of the park-like area surrounding the old mansion slowly erupted into a sea of golden daffodils, followed by the purple and white streaks of the crocus. The stark, bare branches of the old oak and elm trees gradually changing to that delightful new fresh green tinge heralding the new season.

What an amazing year I had working here. It was constantly busy, the family entertained a lot. I worked long hours, but loved it. During show season the house burst at the seams with international visitors and celebrities from TV and the media. They also had 2 large barns converted to accommodation for the riders. I met so many interesting people.

The cherry on top of this experience is that Jack came over to join me for the last 3 months and live in the cottage with me and he joined the grounds men helping around the property, and being paid for it….

Hickstead Place, my cottage you can just see on the right corner

My self-contained cottage at the back of the mansion

A host of golden daffodils



Douglas Bunn died June 16 2009 aged 81 and if you click here you can read about his extraordinary life…

These photos have been taken on film on an Olympus camera and then scanned into the computer.

This post is in response to the “Weekly Photo Challenge” which this week is RENEWAL

Categories: Hickstead Place, memories, photography, renewal, weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge : Renewal

  1. The crocus, the daffodils, your cottage, the story, what’s not to love. What an interesting and full life you have led. Thank you for sharing some of it!

    • I could just about write a book about all the “goings on” and adventures I had that year. It was an amazing year

  2. Lovely story!

  3. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have that opportunity! Beautiful photos…

    • I was so lucky, I just walked by this agency it was pouring with rain so decided to go in out of the rain. I was so wet I actually had to go buy some clothes to go on the train to Sussex for the interview. I had never heard of Douglas Bunn and when I arrived back home to my Mam’s place to collect my clothes etc she was overwhelmed and told me who he was….

  4. I agree with all of the earlier comments! I enjoyed seeing a glimpse of your life and the lovely photos to go with.


    • G’day Nancy, I’m loving the opportunity these challenges give to dig back into the archives of all my thousands of film photos and resurect some memories. Pleased you enjoyed them

  5. you have a good subtitle!
    “I need photos
    to keep my memories

    • Yes as I get older I need them to jog my memory and I can relive the journeys. Nearly had a heart attack yesterday as we thought we had lost ALL our old photos when the external hard drive stopped working. Thank goodness we managed to fix it. Today I am going to get another couple of hard drives to back up the back up!!!

  6. Thank you for sharing the lovely memory.

  7. What an interesting job that must have been.

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