Newent

grapes It’s a place where ea­gles soar, wine, get turned into award-win­ning wild tears are shed over onions and The daf­fodils grow in abun­dance. may time­less mar­ket town of Newent is known be small in size, but its name has its all over the world – and it

Cotswold Life - - AUGUST - Tracy Spiers

Amongst the daf­fodils, onions and grapes

Set off early morn­ing for the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Birds of Prey, the world’s old­est ded­i­cated bird of prey cen­tre which cel­e­brates its 50th an­niver­sary year – an amaz­ing achieve­ment. Meet cu­ra­tor Holly Cale who in­tro­duces me to Lam­br­usco, a 20-yearold yel­low-billed kite. I’ve never been up close and per­sonal with such a ma­jes­tic bird, wow. Set up as a fam­ily busi­ness by fal­coner Philip Glasier in 1967, the cen­tre was just one of two in the world at the time. En­trance for chil­dren was then 7p and 12.5p for adults! Over time and un­der his daugh­ter Jemima Parry-jones’ di­rec­tion, the em­pha­sis is now on con­ser­va­tion of all birds of prey. The cen­tre prom­ises a fan­tas­tic day out with more than 200 in­cred­i­ble birds of prey – from African pygmy fal­cons to An­dean con­dors – and 12 acres of en­clo­sures, glo­ri­ous gar­dens, field and woods to ex­plore. Holly shows us adorable baby yel­low-billed kites, har­ris hawks and great grey owls, as well as ea­gles, owls, fal­cons, hawks and vul­tures. Now a char­ity, the ICBP pro­vides spec­tac­u­lar pho­to­graphic op­por­tu­ni­ties and daily fly­ing demon­stra­tions. We leave wish­ing we could fly.

Our spir­its soar­ing, we drive to nearby award-win­ning Three Choirs Vine­yard, where spir­its of a dif­fer­ent kind are made: the best of English wine whether light fruity reds, off dry rosé, aro­matic soft flo­ral whites or tra­di­tion­ally made sparkling wines. Watch as peo­ple ar­rive for the daily guided tour and wine tast­ing. Since 1975, some of Eng­land’s finest sin­gle es­tate wines have been pro­duced here. We sam­ple an ice cold rosé and en­joy the pic­turesque set­ting of 70 acres of vine on the ter­race of the vine­yard restau­rant where chefs use best lo­cal, fresh sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents. Vis­i­tors are en­cour­aged to ex­plore the vine­yard trail which shows the har­mony be­tween grow­ing

‘13th-cen­tury St Mary’s Church fea­tures the coun­try’s largest un­sup­ported wooden ceil­ing’

grapes and rare, wild ducks, buz­zards, green wood­peck­ers and other wildlife. We spot the lodges, where peo­ple can stay. It’s easy to be trans­ported to hol­i­day mode here. “We want to pro­mote a good way of life, good wine and good food,” as­sis­tant man­ager Bart Wrzyszczyn­ski tells us, “and as we are set off from the main road, we hope to pro­vide a lit­tle es­cape for peo­ple, where they can re­lax for a few days.” Three Choirs, the coun­try’s sec­ond largest vine­yard be­came proud own­ers of Wick­ham Vine­yard in Hamp­shire in 2014. An event worth sup­port­ing is Live mu­sic at Three Choirs on Sun­day 27th Au­gust and dine to lux­ury live mu­sic cour­tesy of ‘The Cock­tail Hour’. Sim­ply book a ta­ble on­line.

Ven­ture into Newent and en­joy a re­fresh­ing 20-minute walk around Newent

Lake and Park. For­merly fish ponds con­structed by me­dieval monks, Newent Lake formed part of for­mer Newent Court, and is stocked with the likes of carp, roach, bream and perch. One of the town’s hid­den trea­sures, the lake and park pro­vides a re­lax­ing cir­cu­lar walk and I can’t re­sist try­ing out the park gym be­fore leav­ing. In­ci­den­tally Bream Sil­ver Band will be play­ing on the park’s open air stage on Au­gust 13.

Ex­plore Newent it­self and take note of 17th cen­tury Newent Mar­ket House

and Her­itage Mu­seum on the town’s orig­i­nal cross­road. On show, an ex­hi­bi­tion tells Newent’s own story from pre­his­toric and Ro­man days in­clud­ing iron/coal min­ing and mod­ern agri­cul­ture.

Read about Newent Mar­ket Square’s most fa­mous res­i­dent, pi­o­neer­ing 1960s record pro­ducer Joe Meek, born in the townhouse. A pi­o­neer of stu­dio sound tech­nol­ogy, Meek’s record­ings sold over 20 mil­lion copies. It’s worth study­ing the town’s in­for­ma­tion boards to find out more about Meek and other well-known names in­clud­ing Dick Whit­ting­ton and Rut­land Boughton. We’re im­pressed by the town’s half­tim­bered build­ings, in­clud­ing one oc­cu­pied by Gooch Sports. Mum buys some mul­ti­coloured laces and we meet Bernard and Julie Gooch, who have been trad­ing 31 years. “We love the com­mu­nity feel Newent has and we al­ways en­joy hear­ing how all our lo­cal teams are do­ing whether it is rugby, hockey, foot­ball and cricket and they’re all do­ing well,” says Bernard. A Park Run ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing at Newent Com­pre­hen­sive School en­cour­ages 80-100 lo­cals to stay ac­tive. Cy­clists can also en­joy Newent Cycling Loop, a 28-mile cir­cu­lar cy­cle ride ex­plor­ing lanes of north west Glouces­ter­shire.

En­cour­aged to see tra­di­tional shops still thriv­ing. Meet a friendly bunch in award­win­ning Andy Creese Butch­ers in Broad Street be­fore pop­ping into All Sea­sons

Deli where Glenn and Norma Hur­rell sell Charles Martell’s fa­mous Stink­ing Bishop, Here­ford Hop and Slack Ma Gir­dle cheeses; Newent honey, Bent­leys’ plum sauces and other de­li­cious treats from lo­cal pro­duc­ers. Walk past St Mary’s Church, dat­ing back

to 13th cen­tury which fea­tures the coun­try’s largest un­sup­ported wooden ceil­ing.

Must men­tion daf­fodils. The ‘golden tides’ of wild daf­fodils sur­round Newent at spring-time are men­tioned in Richard Mabey’s huge Flora Bri­tan­nica. You can find them by fol­low­ing some easy-go­ing routes de­tailed in two Newent Walks books, avail­able from lo­cal shops. Wild daf­fodils grew in such pro­fu­sion school chil­dren picked flow­ers to be sent to Lon­don hos­pi­tals and The Great West­ern rail­way used to put on spe­cial trains to Newent for peo­ple to come and pick the daf­fodils. To­day, pick­ing is not en­cour­aged – it’s strictly view­ing only!

En­joy ex­plor­ing The Sham­bles,a col­lec­tion of Vic­to­rian build­ings where we find a lovely quirky new gallery, The

Se­cret Gallery, set up a few weeks ago by artist Han­nah Ferguson, who will use it as her stu­dio and show­case work by other artists. Cur­rently on show are paint­ings by Han­nah and Newent artist Kip Kaval­lares, who fea­tures in Au­gust’s House and Gar­den mag­a­zine. Kip, a self-taught artist, re­cently won in the Amer­i­can Art Awards and his vi­brant, up-lift­ing paint­ings are a joy to look at.

Daf­fodils are not the only bulb Newent is well-known for so I ven­ture into one of the town’s green­gro­cers to find a gi­gan­tic onion to put my teeth into. I don’t cry when peel­ing onions so I could be a prime can­di­date for

Newent Onion Fayre on Satur­day, Septem­ber 9, the world’s only event of its kind ded­i­cated to the onion fam­ily. The fayre’s his­tory can be traced back a stag­ger­ing 800 years to the 13th cen­tury and was re­vived in 1996. At­tract­ing around 15,000 vis­i­tors, it in­cludes the world-fa­mous onion-eat­ing con­test.

Be­fore leav­ing Newent, Jan and I en­joy bathing in the sun at The Good News Cen­tre, one of the south-west’s most com­pre­hen­sive Chris­tian book­shops and café and re­cap on what we have seen and ex­pe­ri­enced in this his­toric mar­ket town.

Joel Cox holds a white-tailed sea ea­gle Jan Baker en­joys a glass of wine at Three Choirs Vine­yard, Newent

A golden ea­gle for 50 golden years

Award-win­ning Andy Creese Butch­ers, Newent Newent Mar­ket House

Newent Park In­spired by birds, Tracy takes off at

Friendly em­ploy­ees of award­win­ning Andy Creese Butch­ers

went artist Kip Kaval­lares at The Se­cret Gallery, The Sham­bles, Newent

Tim­ber build­ings, Newent

The Sham­bles, Newent

Tracy goes onion mad in Newent

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