If you were to come down to the gardeners’ bothy at break time or lunch time, not only would you find the gardeners and our team of volunteers having a cuppa and dunking the odd biscuit or ten, you would also see another member of the Chartwell staff with us. Tony Alderman is the Premises Assistant here and has become an adopted member of the garden gang. As well as helping us out with broken gates and wonky signs and the like, Tony has another string to his bow. Wood turning.
Although quite new to the wood turning game, Tony and Chartwell were recently asked to provide a set of bowls to give to the winners at this year’s first ever Octavia Hill Awards. The wood Tony used for them was either from the Chartwell estate itself or from the woods in nearby Crockham Hill. The process of creating these bowls is a long one. First there is the rough cut, then 3 months of air drying, then the final cut, followed by a boiling process and kiln drying and standing to remove the sap and prevent cracking. A video of Tony and the work involved in these commemorative bowls can be seen here.
And here is a sneaky behind the scenes image from that video shoot!
Octavia Hill (1838-1912) was a woman ahead of her time. An artist and a radical, she was a pioneer of affordable housing and is seen as the founder of modern social work. Her achievements as an environmental and open space campaigner led to her co-founding the National Trust, which today protects over 300 historic properties and keeps 250,000 hectares of land open to all. Octavia spent much of her later years in the area surrounding Chartwell and her grave can be found under a Yew tree at the Holy Trinity Church in Crockham Hill, despite having the option of being buried at Westminster Abbey. There is also a stained glass window in the Church, celebrating her achievements, as seen below:
The Awards were organised by the National Trust, in partnership with BBC Countryfile Magazine, to mark the centenary of the death of Ocatvia Hill. A panel of expert judges – including Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, Fergus Collins, editor of BBC Countryfile magazine, academic and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts, and writer and countryside campaigner Candida Lycett Green – shortlisted three nominations in each of the six categories. The shortlist for the people’s campaigner award – a public figure who has championed the environment and the outdoors – included broadcaster and president of the Ramblers Association, Julia Bradbury, naturalist and writer, Richard Mabey, and chef, food writer and campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Fiona Reynolds said: “These awards show that the spirit of Octavia Hill is well and truly alive. I was so impressed by the passion and commitment of the people nominated and it was a really hard decision to come up with the final shortlist.” Fergus Collins, added: “The Octavia Hill Awards are a unique opportunity to celebrate and reward those people devoting precious time and energy to safeguarding green spaces. I found selecting the shortlist a difficult and moving experience – it was inspiring to see so many people selflessly working to provide havens for the local community where wildlife can flourish, too, and it was a tough job having to choose between such worthy people.”
The voting process was done by the public and the awards themselves took place last week St Martins-In-The-Field church in London’s Trafalgar Square. Details of the awards ceremony and all of the winners can be found here. The bowls from Chartwell were very well received and apparently there was a bit of comparing going on as they are all unique! Gina, Julia Bradbury’s sister jokingly asked if Tony took a bite out of the edge of Julias, as this is where the knot was, but seriously liked the idea behind it and the finished award.
It has been an exciting time at Chartwell recently, what with the success at the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show last week (details here) and now this. We are all very proud that Tony and his bowls were able to represent Chartwell in this important award process. Who knows, if you come to down to visit us any time soon, he might even be able to show you some of his latest creations!