After a long slog with numerous delays, we are delighted to finally be moving staff into our new office building from the beginning of June. The building will house staff from 2 of the Bourne Group of companies, namely Gardenscape and John Bourne & Co. Bourne Amenity and Bourne Sport will remain in the original office building, which itself will soon undergo an internal renovation.
As most people are aware the cladding of the building was delayed substantially as we were unable to start until the Council had approved the material that we were using, and this took over 4 months. However, we have now finished the cladding and, as you can see from this photo, the scaffolding is now coming down. Once it is down the landscaping around the new building can begin. This will involve extensive ground level planting as well as the replacement of the hoarding with new gates and security fencing.
Our aim in regards to the landscaping is to soften the building within its surrounds. Once the scaffolding comes down you will notice that one part of the building has not been clad, specifically the top part of the wall facing the bridge. This is because we hope to install a living wall on that end. If we are able to do this then it will provide a beautiful aesthetic for people arriving into Newenden across the bridge from Sussex. The wall will offer year round interest, be beneficial to the environment and hopefully attract all sorts of insects and birds.
In addition we will be doing some work on the roof. Again with a view to softening the building, we plan to plant in a variety of irrigated planters. Due to the exposure to the elements at that height we will be limited in what can be planted up there, but we are working with experts who are advising us on what we can achieve.
Both the living wall and the roof planting require a further planning application. We will be submitting this soon after the scaffolding is down, when we can start working on the visuals that we will submit with our application. For this reason neither of these elements will happen immediately. Whilst we will again be at the mercy of the Planners timetable, we hope that this will be majority finished by the Autumn/Winter of this year.
We appreciate that this has been a long process, and we have been as frustrated by this as we know many local people have. However we are excited to be moving into the offices now, and look forward to the ongoing works to improve on the visual impact of the new building and its immediate environment.
Our new office block has come into being, thanks to some spectacular teamwork by a Yorkshire haulage firm and a Kentish crane operator. As you can see from the picture above, the units fit right into the environment... well, they will do when the works surrounding them are finished. There will also be some interior changes and upgrading to be done, so it may be a little while before we can make full use of the extra space becoming available. Watch this space!
Every now and then, Gardenscape has the pleasure of hosting Fran Russell and her "en plein air" (outdoors painting) workshop on the banks of the Rother. The weather couldn't have been better on Tuesday - and it does remind you what a lovely setting we operate from.
In the background you can see the 1706 bridge, connecting not only Kent and Sussex, but also the two parts of our yard. It wasn't exactly designed for HGVs, but carries on standing up - while presenting a very popular subject for our local artists!
The news from Australia isn't brilliant this morning - but hey, Ashes come and Ashes go. Here in Newenden we have a longer association with cricket than anybody else, and it will survive the occasional Antipodean disappointment. The picture above (taken by NCC's own Alex Balfour) shows Newenden's ancient cricket ground (with the Bourne facilities behind the cricket pavilion, and beautifully maintained by our own Peter B). But did you know quite how ancient?
Many places lay claim to being the place where cricket was first played. But Newenden has a very special claim, recognised by no less an authority than the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack.
In March 1301, the King of England, Edward I, spent some time in Newenden. It appears from records of his correspondence that he stayed in the village on several dates in the early 14th century, possibly visiting old friends while on the way to inspect the progress of New Winchelsea. Newenden was then an important market and road stagepost, which perhaps explains why tradition tells of there being sixteen inns in the village. On this particular occasion, the King was accompanied by his eldest surviving son, known as Edward, Prince of Wales, who was later to ascend to the throne as Edward II.
The Royal household expended some money, noted in the King’s Wardrobe accounts, which is the term used for general domestic expenditure, for Prince Edward to play a game of creag at Newenden, on 10 March. If we accept, with Wisden, that creag is an early form of the word “cricket”, then this is indeed the very first time the game is mentioned in recorded history. No further written mention of the game has been found until at least 250 years later, which is taken by critics as a reason to discount Newenden’s claim. Nonetheless, although cricket may not have become a widely spread pastime for adults until the 17th century, historians generally agree that the game did originate in the Weald, and that it was played by children for centuries before it was formalised and entered history in anything like its modern form.
Some say that creag is just a variant of the Gaelic word craic, meaning fun in general. But they would have to explain why Saxon peasants and their Norman overlords were still using Celtic words over 700 years after the old Britons had been chased out of Kent. Finally, while 10 March may seem impossibly early for cricket, it should be noted first that this date is according to the Julian calendar, which by this time was seriously out of synch with the solar year. So in our calendar, this date corresponds to 18 March. Also, the climate of the 13th century had been particularly clement, even if it was now deteriorating into the “Little Ice Age”. For instance, the great storm of 1287, which finally claimed Old Winchelsea, thus necessitating Edward’s visits to our corner of England, may have been a sign of rapid climate change. However, in 1301, March could still have been significantly milder than the springs we experience now.
So, never mind those that find fault with our history. It is quite possible that Prince Edward, then almost 17 years old, really did play cricket on a sunny field below the then brand new church of St. Peter’s. A royal start for cricket, with village boys and others from his retinue (including his recent, later infamous new friend
Piers Gaveston) that spring day some 700 years ago? Certainly, we in Newenden like to think so!