News: April and May 2019

Below are selected items from our recent newsetters and other news. Members of the society receive the full newsletter and other regular updates by email ahead of them appearing on this website.

Sad News

It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Jeanie, Countess of Carnarvon, a true lady in every sense of the word. In the early days of Highclere Society she became a life member, giving us support when we most needed it. Also of course she was an active member of the Church and many other Highclere organisations.

Jeanie loved working to improve society locally. Lady Carolyn tells me of her pride in founding the Newbury Spring Festival. In earlier years she had also helped The Mary Hare School for the Deaf and Save the Children Fund.

Not everybody knew she was an American born in Bighorn Wyoming who remained devoted to her home. She was also a keen water colour artist. Jeanie left 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren and adored them all.

She will be sadly missed in Highclere.

Wine Quiz "Call My Bluff"

The annual Wine Quiz was again presented on 30th March in the "Call My Bluff" style, with excellent wines chosen by David Small. 72 members and friends, grouped on 11 tables, had great fun in trying to decide which of the excellent wines matched the extravagant descriptions delivered by the panel, Clive Sanders, Krista Dick and Christine Leah. There were 4 white and 4 red wines being tasted. Ian Briggs led the Quiz ably assisted on the scoreboard by David Small.

The contest was very keenly fought, with Table 7 coming first, comprising James, Helen and Alex Stillman, Will and Kate Flack, Roland and Geraldine Gardner and Heather Whitworth. The winners received 8 bottles of wine.

Following the quiz, a delicious ploughman's supper, organised by Janet Taylor and Traci Sharp, was served, accompanied by wine from the tastings.

The £302 profit will be donated to this year's charities which is Alzheimer's.

Everyone enjoyed the evening and hopefully left knowing a little more about wine.


A Village cornerstone at risk?

by Patrick Hedgeland

You may, like me, have received a pamphlet through your door from our church asking you to consider making donations under a Parish Giving Scheme. If you did not, it is a request to make regular payments to help support St Michael & All Angels, your local church. Anyone who is not a Highclere church goer, or is of another faith, or none may feel it was not for them.

I write, with the full support of the committee. This matters to the Society because the Church is an important part of the natural and built environment we are here to protect. Likewise, I suggest that it is relevant to all Highclere residents for the following reasons.

We have only three public buildings in Highclere: The Church, The Village Hall and The Studio (not yet open). The last two are supported by their users and have access to public funds through grants etc (from our taxes).

The church on the other hand is not as well attended as it used to be other than for weddings, funerals and key services at certain times of the year and thus its income is shrinking. As far as I know neither does it have access to public funds. Some say that nationally the church has vast invested wealth. True, overall the church has seemingly large assets, but this capital does not produce anything like enough income for all its needs.

Our Diocese, in contrast to some, has very little historic income and is therefore hugely reliant upon income from the Parish contributions. The Highclere target is a massive £37,000 this year. 80% of this money goes to the cost of clergy (salary, pension, housing and expenses) the rest covers administration costs such as the diocesan team, legal and administration costs and the work of the Church generally throughout the Country. The running cost of Highclere Church which is considerable is additional to the £37,000. All this money must be raised through fundraising, and service collections etc. This is a very tall order. Church closures are happening all over the country due to lack of money. That would be a tragedy in such an affluent area as Highclere.

This affects us all. Not only is it the finest building in the Village but it is the site of many local functions, children's playgroups, Ladies group and the Fete. Without it there will be no beautiful location for weddings, baptisms, and funerals or occasions such as Remembrance Day.

So, the bottom line is that if these things are important to you then please consider a donation via the Parish Giving Scheme. Copies are available from

30 mph sign

Speeding on the A343

Following recent concerns over traffic speeding through the village on the A343, we have now obtained a second batch of this speeding sign which is specifically designed for wheelie bins. These were provided by the Highclere Society.

If you would like one or more of these please call in at the Red House where they are available free of charge. We would in particular encourage those who live on the A343 to do so.

News from the Westridge Studio

Great news, after a very rigorous process the Trustees are pleased to announce that Beavers have been selected for the Westridge Studio Project. Beavers hope to start the project at the end of May beginning of June, which is very exciting, so as you travel past Westridge in the not too distant future things will begin to happen, please look out for it! This is of course subject to approval of our Lif Funder Basingstoke and Deane District Council. It is anticipated that the project will take approximately four months if nothing major arises.

The Trustees have selected "Mursells" to Project Manage the build as this is a requirement for the Lif Grant of £80,000 given to us from Basingstoke and Deane District Council. A further grant of £1,350 has been granted towards the installation of a disabled toilet.

The grants committee are still committed to securing further grants to fund the fit out, decorating and other works to complete the project. Many of the grants need to show that the local community is behind the project and that we are doing our bit to help ourselves, so please help if you can.

If you have any skills that may be useful in the renovation of the building and are willing to give some time, please let us know so that we could call upon you when needed. These skills may include painting, cleaning, window cleaning, gardening, digging, fencing - there are many more that we could use.

You can also donate on The Good Exchange. This was previously known as and was Greenham Common Trust's web platform, this has been superceded by The Good Exchange. There are many benefits for using this platform: promotes local fundraisers and donations, there are co-funding and match funding opportunities, enhances funding and awareness through social media. The Good Exchange is wholly owned by the Greenham Common Trust and it is a Not-for-Profit organisation. Please go on to if this doesn't work google The Good exchange and follow the links for donating. You can donate as much or as little as you like: every pound helps.

If you are aware of any groups that may wish to book the venue for an Arts project please contact Sue Edwards on she will be pleased to help.

Thank you for being interested!

If you wish to read about the progress of Westridge Studio, please look at the website:

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