May has seen some new developments.  Since Rolo died last year we have been looking for a new dog, and the search has proved surprisingly difficult.  Eventually we learnt of a litter of ten black Labrador pups on a farm near Melbourne, and collected an eight week old bitch last week.  Since the breeder’s name was Earl and she is going to live in a stately home, we’ve named her ‘Lady’.

Two weeks earlier we moved our Estate Office out of the Lion Court office complex in the west wind of the Hall into refurbished space in an adjacent building.  This building is called the Brewhouse, and it originally housed several service elements for the main house.  At one end was the bakehouse, at the other the dairy and the wash house.  My father remembered seeing the Countess Ferrers skimming the cream off the big churn of milk which two men carried down from the home farm each day.

In the centre of the building was the brewhouse, which extended through two floors.  Ican just recall seeing it with the equipment intact, and when I was a boy our blacksmith told me how he would be given a pint of small beer by the brewer before setting off to his father’s forge at Breedon on the Hill with a bag of tools to sharpen.  Since that time there have been several changes.  When the Hall became a Cheshire Home in the late 1950’s a floor was inserted to make a flat upstairs, while the front wall was taken out to make a three vehicle garage.  Later this opening was bricked up and the central room became first a storeroom and then an office and workshop for staff during the years when the Hall was a Sue Ryder hospice.

Now it is our office, from which we administer the farms and woods and property which make up the Staunton Harold Estate.  Will there be a basket for Lady beside my desk?  I don’t think so; her role is to stay with Jacqueline and help guard the house.