Christmas Event 2013.

Our Christmas event came earlier than usual this year, so it was great to see it so well supported by our visitors. We were once again honoured with the presence (presents?) of Father Christmas (known to some as Santa Claus) who passed around some early gifts to our younger visitors. 

Here was the day’s itinerary: 


Adding to the Christmas spirit (with voices as warm and comforting as a glass of mulled wine) were the Castle Bromwich Singers. Here is a modest video of one of the songs, complete with an impromptu electronic introduction. Apologies if you noticed the sound going in and out of sync - I hope it doesn’t detract too much (I’ve asked Santa for a Class 10 SDHC Card for next year!). 

The performance was held in our Visitors Centre, where delicious seasonal food and drink was served by our very busy kitchen volunteers.

Of course Christmas at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens would not be complete without the annual Christmas Mummer’s Play, performed as always by the splendid and resplendent Brummagem Mummers who wasted no time in taking their usual liberties (in all respects). 

The sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the troupe bear an uncanny resemblance to the Glorishears of Brummagem. Ten house points to anyone who spotted this. Anyway, here are some photographs of the play: 

Once again the West Midlands Woodturners became Santa's elves for the day. Here’s a quick look at some of the lovely items that they produced.

A new dimension to our Christmas Celebrations was added by The Flux Dance Theatre, who put on a show to help raise funds for Cancer Research. A fantastic job they did too. Believe me, it’s no easy matter to dance on short damp grass and stay upright, yet alone to be as graceful as these young ladies: 

Our craft stalls were very busy, with lots of goodies along with more creative activities for the youngsters: 

But as usual the real star in all of this was the Gardens themselves, quietly sparkling with seasonal sights, colours, sounds, and smells:

So once again our Christmas Event was a memorable afternoon of seasonal fun. We’re beginning to make a habit of this aren't we? 

Thanks to all of our visitors for their support, and to the volunteers and staff who make the whole thing possible. 

So all that’s left for us is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and peaceful New Year. 

By the way - if you must make a new year’s resolution - how about becoming a volunteer? Click here for details.

 Creative Commons Licence
Text video and photographs by Graham High - 2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.


End of Season Garden photos

 In October, the gardens staff were involved with hedge cutting the perimeter hedges in the North Garden and the formal parterre in this area, which is a restoration of the original Beighton prospect dating back to 1726.  I took this view of the North Garden from a Henchman platform and ladder to give a perspective of the layout.  Originally the area was designed to have been viewed from the Castle Bromwich Hall, via the windows above the North Courtyard.

North Garden Parterre

The Maltese Cross parterre illustrated below is planted out in box hedging and was restored by the Trust to illustrate this intricate and formal style of box hedging.  The aim is to grow herbs and annuals in the raised beds in the centre of the borders.

Maltese Cross Parterre

The Garden has a good range of autumn colour.  This tree Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) is in our New Orchard area (outside the Walled Garden).  It was introduced to the UK in 1634 from E.N America, and is now a well established tree in our orchard, with good autumn colour.

Juglans nigra

Chris Hitchcock
November 2013


A Visit from Solihull Police

We recently had the honour of being the location for the latest video presentation by the Chief Superintendent of Solihull Police, Sally Bourner. Here she talks to our Head Gardener, Chris Hitchcock.

Solhull Police is a good friend to both the gardens and to our local community, and they are holding an open day at Chelmsley Wood Police station on 14th September between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

To quote Sally: 

"There will be all sorts of fun, frolics and interesting things to see and do including stalls and activities from local communities and partnerships and displays from ourselves, Fire and Ambulance services. You can buy cakes, burgers, ice cream, tea and coffee. And if you’re really brave, having stuffed yourself full of food, you can have a go at sparring with our own local World Champion boxer, the one and only Wayne Elcock. I am delighted that The Mayor of Solihull and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner will be joining us on the day. So please come along, say hello and see what we all do."

As the Police (like so many other essential services) are not usually thought about until they are actually needed, the Open Day is a valuable opportunity to meet the people who help protect us all both day and night.

You can also keep in touch via Twitter @SolihullPolice

Meanwhile, here is the video. Enjoy!


Lady Bridgeman's Corporate Clean-Up!

We were visited recently by a group of Corporate Volunteers from LLoyds TSB operting via Sustain. The group worked on tidying up the Lady Bridgeman Garden, and very good it looks too! 

If you are interested in spending a corporate team-build day at ths Gardens, please contact us. Not only will you be most welcome, we can also promise you will have a great day. You will also be helping us greatly in out task in maintaining the Gardens for future generations to enjoy.

Many thanks to the group from Lloyds TSB for all their hard work!


1940's Event - 12 May 2013.

Guards patrolling the new secret military base. Ssh!

Castle Bromwich briefly returned to wartime readiness on Sunday 12th May 2013 with the return of the 1940's event at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. This time another enemy was faced; namely our Spring weather which still had strong elements of late Winter about it. Nevertheless both visitors and re-enactors packed up their troubles in an old kit-bag and smiled their way through, usually in 1940s costume!

Highlights of the event included a display of vintage military and private vehicles:

The home guard also showed up, ever vigilant against fifth columnists and spies:

C'mon Adolf if you think you're hard enough...

Private Pike guarding the bike.

To help us mark the 75th anniversary of the 'Dam-Busters' raid, a temporary war-room was set up. Our classroom was suddenly transformed into RAF Neethley, and visitors sat through a number of air-raid scenarios therein:

The RAF tracking options proved to be most effective:

Here's one we pranged earlier!

Needless to say the public were well prepared for any incursion from the enemy:

Everyone knew where they were:

The US Army Medics were on hand:

 The shops were still open:

 ... and our dedicated Land Girls carried on regardless.

Of course all problems were eventually solved by jolly decent brew-up:

In the meantine Peggy Skivvy was on hand doing the essential job of the laundry, and telling just about everyone about how she went about it:

Sadly the weather prevented me from filming her talk this year, so here's one I filmed earlier:

I did however manage to film some of the quality entertainment provided by Kevin Mack just before the heavens opened on us:

In what seems to be a habit at our 1940s events, everyone had a great time in spite of the weather. Smiling faces abounded everywhere, and the event was the talking point of the area for days afterwards. Thank you all for your support.

I would also like to thank all of the visitors, exhibitors, and re-enactors for providing the Gardens with an event that I strongly suspect will be one of the highlights of 2013.

Special thanks must go to Professor Carl Chinn for promoting this event so brilliantly on BBC Radio WM. It was an extremely generous gesture.

Again, where would this event have been without the stirling work of our volunteers? Huge thanks to everyone involved: You were all great. If you are intrested in helping to keep these historic gardens open for the benefit of future generations see our volunteers page on this blog, then please contact Sue Brain on 0121 749 4100.

STOP PRESS! More pictures available from this site!

Creative Commons Licence
The video and photographs were taken by Graham High and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.