2014 marks the bi-centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent and the centenary of Sulgrave Manor’s purchase to serve as a symbol of continuing friendship between the United Kingdom and the United States.
For a hundred years the Manor has been supported by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and on the weekend of 7th/8th June, 120 Dames and their husbands visited the Manor to celebrate this event. Despite torrential rain on Saturday morning, the weather relented during the afternoon to give bright sunshine for the reception, the afternoon picnic with villagers, the Tudor performance and the parade of the Grafton hounds.
Perfect English summer weather continued on Sunday for morning service at the Church of St James the Less led by the Bishop of Peterborough followed by lunch at the Manor attended by Earl and Countess Spencer and the American Ambassador.
Photographs of these events can be seen on the following pages.
FRIDAY 6TH JUNE – PREPARATIONS
On Friday morning in perfect summer weather, the Manor looks at its very best.
The marquee awaits its floral decorations……
….brought in by willing volunteers from the village.
The great hall is carefully polished under the watchful eye of George Washington….
…..and the great bedchamber looks as immaculate as ever.
The completed floral decoration in the marquee.
Whilst the preparations go forward, the Manor’s main function of entertaining paying guests continues unabated.
SATURDAY 7TH JUNE
The Dames and their consorts arrive at the Manor……
…..and are greeted by Norman Hudson, acting Chairman of the Sulgrave Manor Trust.
Programmes are handed out.
A personal welcome by Gabriella Magnay.
Half of the Dames in front of the Manor…….
…..and the other half.
Very demure curtseys from the Tudor Manor servants.
Martin Sirot-Smith, former resident director at the Manor, instrumental in establishing the educational programme.
The Dames and Sulgrave villagers picnic together in the marquee.
Manor staff arrive to take the parts in the Tudor history re-enactment usually played by visiting schoolchildren
The Manor blacksmith introduces…….
….the young King Henry VIII.
Henry’s first wife Catherine of Aragon is crowned as queen but she fails to produce a male heir and…..
…..Henry takes a fancy to Anne Boleyn….
…..not to universal approval!
A royal messenger (aka the Blacksmith) goes to Rome to seek the approval of Pope Clement VII to a divorce….
…..but this is not forthcoming and so Henry breaks with Rome, establishes the Church of England with himself at its head, approves his own divorce and makes Anne his queen.
Anne falls from favour, is found guilty of treason and beheaded. Henry makes Jane Seymour his new queen….
……but unfortunately she dies.
Anne of Cleves comes to England, chosen from a painting by Hans Holbein….
….and becomes Henry’s fourth wife and queen. However, Henry clearly considered that the portrait “flattered to deceive” and she is soon divorced.
He marries Kathryn Howard but within two years she is found guilty of treason and beheaded.
And so finally to Catherine Parr, who has the good fortune to survive the king, who died in 1547. Note: There is a neat little rhyme which serves to remind of the fate of the six wives: “Divorced, beheaded, died – divorced, beheaded, survived”
Charles Smyth-Osbourne, Senior Master of the Grafton Hunt, with one of the packs of hounds.
A close encounter…..
…..fortunately with merely cosmetic results!
The Georgia girls.
Several Sulgrave gardens were open to visitors in the afternoon.
SUNDAY 8TH JUNE
Another very fine summer’s day as the congregation emerges from morning service at the Church of St James the Less…..
…..to be greeted by the Bishop of Peterborough, the Right Rev Donald Allister and churchwarden Shrimp Christy.
The visitors make their way back through the village….
…..for the formal reception and lunch at the Manor.
Earl and Countess Spencer are greeted by Norman Hudson.
The Earl and Countess mingle with the guests.
The formal speeches begin with a welcome by Norman Hudson as acting Chairman of the Sulgrave Manor Trust.
Matthew Barzun, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Court of St. James.
The Ambassador proposes a toast.
Earl Spencer speaks of his American connections…..
….and the long association of his family with the Manor.
Every event is carefully recorded!
Marcy Moody, President of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.
A vote of thanks by Bess Fuchs, Senior Representative of the NSCDA to the Sulgrave Manor Trust…..
….and a cheque for 100,000 dollars for the Manor Trust Fund…..
The ever attentive staff wait to serve after lunch coffee.
….for the formal planting of a rose……
…..in memory of……
….Mrs Tenny Marshall, the Dames senior representative to the then Sulgrave Manor Board from 1997 to 2003.
An Honour Guard from 501 Com Support Wing, USAF, march forward for the flag ceremony….
….the union flag is carefully lowered…
…..followed by the Stars and Stripes.
The formal proceedings are concluded by Norman Hudson and Bess Fuchs.
A very happy Cymon Snow and staff can finally relax at the conclusion of a very successful event.
Read the history of Sulgrave Manor and the Washingtons in Chapter 1 of “The Chronicles of a Country Parish” – a village appraisal of Sulgrave published in 1995, elsewhere in this website.
The website editor apologises for any errors or omissions in this account of the “Dames’ Day Weekend”. Corrections and additions will be acknowledged and inserted as appropriate.