On Sunday 1st September, a group of intrepid explorers set off across the fields on the Jordan’s estate guided by farm owner and manager, Chris Speke.
Over 40 guests turned out in the balmy autumn sunshine to support the event for the Jemima Layzell Trust. There were lots of questions about the farmland, the first being a logistical one, how to cross so many of us over the A358? We had visions of holding up the traffic, but luckily this was avoided as a secret underground track led us right underneath the busy road.
We came out into well-maintained parkland full of young chestnut trees and then crossed into the linseed fields. In full bloom, these would be a sea of tiny blue flowers, but were now little hard golden seeds a little bit bigger than cumin. It was interesting to see our landscape from a different perspective, with the Beacon, Ilminster in the distance.
We then left the fields to visit Rowlands Mill a Grade 11* listed mill house. This is a stunning building built in the late 1600’s with unusual and distinctive brick arches recessed into the hamstone block facings. To the rear a very pretty timber gable lead onto a cantilevered hip roof under which the cast iron machinery remains. Behind the property, is a substantial retaining wall to keep the water at bay, which now lies flat creating a tranquil pond complete with rowing boat for the lucky holiday-makers staying there.
A short walk around the drive and we arrive at Rowlands. There Peter Speke, warmly greeted us, three well-behaved dogs included. We all followed him through the original screens passage to the great hall. The main building was built by the Cuffe family, sometime in the late 15th Century and boasts beautiful plasterwork featuring Queen Elizabeth 1’s coat of arms over the fireplace. Also, picked out in gold a plaster-work inscription runs along the top of three walls; the most unusual cornicing. Pride of place though, a portrait of John Hanning Speke who discovered the source of the Nile on August 3rd, 1858.
We were then invited into the Courtyard to sit in the shade, for sandwiches and cream tea provided by Silver Street Dairy. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, perfect for a Sunday afternoon and greatly enjoyed by all. The Jemima Layzell Trust are so grateful to Chris and Caroline for raising £200 and organising such a wonderful event, it was a rare and special treat.