Sunday, 2 August 2009

Glorious Goodwood - Gloomy Goodwood

It is summer – is it not? Well in the northern hemisphere it is meant to be, but the powers that be have decided to downgrade our barbeque heatwave to British summertime blues. Such is life here in England, it is the holiday season and the weather closes in.

'Glorious Goodwood’ not only offers the very best in top-class horse racing, but is one of the highlights of the social summer season – famously described by King Edward VII as ‘a garden party with racing tacked on’.

With a description such as “Glorious Goodwood”, you would think that glorious would be the word of the moment – well no .. thick foggy mist and relentless rain would be more appropriate .. but the English race on. The jockeys could not see each other as they raced, nor could the punters, nor the race commentator, the television crew switched between the gloomy shots.

Midday wins the Nassau Stakes during the Glorious Goodwood Festival, despite heavy rain. From Gulf News – courtesy Associated Press

August 1st used to be our summer bank holiday before it was moved to the end of August in 1965 and the weather was considered to begin ‘without a cloud, and the sun shone from dawn to evening’ – now that would be glorious!

Rain, rain go away, come again another day .. this nursery rhyme, when Elizabeth I reigned, refers to the August 1588 invasion by the Spanish Armada; when Philip II learned of the result, he declared, “I sent the Armada against men, not God’s winds and waves”, after the stormy weather had scattered the Spanish fleet.

Goodwood house is a magnificent Regency mansion in the middle of beautiful wooded parkland at the foot of the South Downs, West Sussex, occupied today by the present Duke of Richmond and his young family.

In 1697 the 1st Duke purchased the Goodwood estate of 1,000 acres, with a modest 17th century house which he wanted to use as a hunting lodge. The 2nd Duke added a classical wing to the house, built follies and a smaller hunting lodge within the grounds.

Both the 1st and 2nd Dukes became the patron of that quintessential English game of cricket, developing it in Sussex and it is almost certain that the 1st Duke was involved in the earliest known major match, which took place in 1697, being the first cricket match to be reported by the press, with a prize of 50 guineas. The 2nd Duke inherited his father’s love of sport.

The 3rd Duke (1735 – 1806), as Ambassador in Paris, had acquired fabulous newly made fine French furniture, Gobelin tapestries and Sèvres porcelain. During his tenure this third Duke increased the estate size to 17,000 acres, added a new wing and then due to a fire destroying his London home, once again increased the size of the house, and added a stable block.

The 3rd Duke added the third great sporting association with Goodwood opening the family seat in 1802 to horse racing, which has grown into Glorious Goodwood today.

During the 17th and 18th centuries a magnificent collection of English paintings was amassed, including wonderful views of London by Canaletto, and magnificent sporting scenes by George Stubbs, England’s most famous animal painter. The works of art, together with some books from the well-stocked library, are rotated and displayed, while the house, despite being a family home, is open to the public for 60 days a year, and hosts public events.

Today there is also a motor racing circuit, which started out life as a World War II airfield, before being absorbed into the Goodwood estate, with motor racing starting in 1948 and continuing until 1966. The Goodwood Festival of Speed or Goodwood Revival celebrates that golden era of motor sport from the 1950s and 1960s, for exceptional wheel-to-wheel racing around a classic circuit, untouched by the modern world reliving those glory days.

The Dukes’ other favourite sports include flying, shooting and golf – all available within this fantastic parkland estate, now consisting of just over 11,000 acres, which has kept up with the times improving its fortunes as generations pass and as new opportunities occur.

Driving through the South Downs, in and around the Goodwood parkland in the sunny summer days that we would expect, rather than the thick foggy, misty day of racing we had yesterday, we would reckon on seeing fields of ripening wheat, barley, corn surrounded by green hedgerows, pockets of spinneys, bridleways, stretching away into distant hills and valleys, through avenues of trees, round corners up hills and down dales, through picturesque villages – where oh where has our English summer gone?
Courtesy the The Independent –
David Ashdown: A band warms the crowd up before racing begins
This is one estate and family that have kept their fortunes intact and offer us the chance to experience many sports, or to visit their historical house and take a tour through time – starting with the nursery rhyme .. rain rain go away come again another day .. appropriate for this weekend’s weather, and just over one hundred years before the present Duke’s family bought the Goodwood estate .. the weather still rules our English life!

Thank you Mr Postman for delivering this letter my mother will love the descriptions of the Sussex countryside, together with the sporting options as she loves the outdoors and her sports .. we will enjoy sharing these memories especially the nursery rhyme and its origins ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


positively present said...

I love the word "Goodwood"! It sounds like a made up place. :) It was great to learn about it. Thanks!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dani .. it was I guess going back when .. =

Woods, clearings and open land .. numerous words for woods are possible going back to Old English and Scandinavian times; however occasionally the wood was named from its owner .. "Goedgifu" (Godiva) in Sussex. Goda of England 1004 - 1055 was the daughter of Ethelred the Unready.

There's always an explanation in old English ...
but Good Wood would be pretty accurate too ..

Thanks for being here ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Giovanna Garcia said...

Hi Hilary

Goodwood look amazing, the estate is so beautiful. Wow, I hope to see it someday.
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gio .. it is a really pretty area, and the estate with all it offers is quite amazing. I hope you can get there ..

Glad you enjoyed it ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Peter Baca said...

Hi Hilary,

Sounds like GLorius Goodwood would be a interesting place to visit! Obviously the horse racing would be fun as long as the weather holds up!

I was thinking about he name....sounds like the forest did have some good wood.

Thanks for your post!

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. it is an amazing place to visit .. with lots to do ..and the horses to follow - but as you say not this year in the teeming rain!

I'm sure the forest did have some good trees .. used for ships, or the iron industry .. glad you like Good Wood ..

Thanks for being here - all the best
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories