By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 1 days ago
MOTOR RACING DAYS: Although my blogs are about living at Hoar Cross Hall, I would just like to give a bit of background about my dad’s racing career in the years leading up to moving to the Hall as this will set the scene for later instalments of my story.
As mentioned in my first blog my dad used to be a racing driver but he actually started off racing motor cycles in the 1930s. Because of this he became a despatch rider during the Second World War and spent a lot of time in North Africa. After the war he started racing at nearby Donington Park and he raced there up to the beginning of the 1950s. After that he moved onto cars and drove a Cooper 500cc (which is the equivalent to Formula 3) along with the likes of Graham Hill and Sterling Moss. At the end of the 1950s he moved into Formula 2. Of course in those days it was completely different and much more ‘fun’, unlike more recent times where it has become a big money business. My dad didn’t have a rich family to support him or financial backers and probably did it all on a shoestring knowing him! He told me that he would always ‘take it easy’ and wasn’t too bothered about winning; drivers always got their ‘start’ money and he was satisfied with that. Accidents meant expensive repairs!
During the 1960s he raced Lotus Elites and I have never forgotten the time, aged just 5 years old, when he took me for a spin around Mallory Park. I remember it all very clearly, even now. He strapped me into the car, watched by the mechanics in the pits. My poor mother was worried to death and kept asking if I’d be alright! My dad was his usual self, flouting the rules, and continued to do a few laps around the circuit with me clinging petrified to the side of the seat - I have been terrified of speed ever since – can you imagine that happening today!
My dad would spend all his time tinkering about on the car once it was back home and then take it for a test driv...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 03rd December 2018
GHOSTBUSTERS! People were always coming to the Hall to either hire the place or to have a look around. In 1973 a couple of professional ghost hunters asked to stay over one night to try and source the noises we heard in the attic. They brought cases full of recording equipment and set it all up in one of the attic rooms. Rather them than me I thought! Then I had a brilliant idea and went off to tell my brother Gavin all about it. As mentioned in my first blog the attic and basement had a row of bells which the family used to summon the servants. Before the two men arrived we spent all day trying out all the bells to see which ones were which. We found that one of the bell pulls in the Chase Dressing Room made one of the bells in the attic ring. We also found that the bell pull in the Morrey Bedroom rang a bell in the basement and a bell in the attic rang a bell in the Long Gallery! Gosh, these people must have been hearing bells ring all day long!
Anyhow, the plan was that we would ring one of the bells right outside their room and when next day they told us about the noises we would tell them that the room for that bell was no longer there – it had been knocked down when the old kitchens had been demolished! Then they would realise that it must have been a ghost ringing the bell and listen to their recordings quivering in fear! Gavin and I were so excited we could hardly sleep that night. Before we went to bed we rang the bell quite a few times until we were satisfied that they had heard it then went to sleep. Next day we went up to see them expecting to hear all about the ringing bells but all they said was that they’d seen a fox running across the fields but nothing else! What a disappointment – our trick had failed even though they had all that fancy equipment to record any eerie sounds - perhaps they just fell asleep and forgot to switch it on. We still thought it was a good trick to play though and had fun doing...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 25th November 2018
CALENDAR GIRLS AND FRONT COVERS: During our time at the Hall people would occasionally hire the house for a day’s filming or whatever. During the summer of 1973 a photographer from London hired the place for a day and he brought two models with him, one English and one German, and they were taking photos for a glamour calendar. We were told to keep right out of the way as they were taking photos in the gardens as well as the house. Naturally we wanted to see everything that was going on and my younger brother Gavin especially was very keen to watch – so much so that he found a pair of binoculars to follow all the proceedings! We managed to find all sorts of hiding places eventually settling in our attic room to keep tabs on everything. From the attic we could access the roof which was flat in places and meant that we could view all the grounds at the front of the house and the back. We often came up here to run around and explore and in the summer it was a great place to sun-bathe in private - not sure if our parents were aware that we did this!
The girls wore wigs and hair pieces and were being photographed in military jackets with swords and other accessories from the house. They posed either topless or scantily clad in the gardens and in front of a pair of wrought iron gates (by Robert Bakewell, renowned Derbyshire ironsmith) right at the bottom of the garden. These gates linked the Ha-Ha wall. This was a wall which bordered the grounds and had a small ditch on the other side – the reason was that the ditch stopped the deer from jumping the wall; for on the other side was a deer park, although the deer had long since run off and it was just a field when we were there. The Ha-Ha wall is a French invention, the idea being that the recessed design element gives an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond, so a small wall above ground and the rest below ground next to the ditch which also stopped animals jumping into the ga...