A Very English Day Out

Last Sunday turned out to be a glorious day after twenty four hours of much needed rain. Thank goodness it did for a friend had organised that most English of traditions - a posh picnic on the lawns of a large country house, followed by a concert in the music room.

And so we found ourselves eating smoked salmon sandwiches, coronation chicken, salads, ending with strawberries and cream, all washed down with an endless supply of champagne. But our friend didn't just do us proud with the picnic, she had invited an eclectic mix of guests. There was an art historian, an art restorer, an explorer, a porcelain restorer, myself a garden designer amongst others. And we were international as well, for amongst the guests was an American, a Persian, myself part Polish - but the pure bred Brits did outnumber us....

Boarstall, where the concert took place, is a fourteenth century moated gatehouse. Of course, a building with such a long history has seen many changes and events, a major one being during the (English) Civil War when it was besieged for ten weeks. Damaged by cannon fire, ( the bricked up 'patches' can still be seen), upon its surrender the main part of the house, church and village were all destroyed by the victorious Parliamentarians. The mansion and the church were rebuilt but only the latter remains, the house being demolished once again in 1778. Since that time the tower has remained virtually unchanged. Now owned by the National Trust, it is lived in by tenants who organise the concerts.

We had come to hear a young soprano, Luci Briginshaw, sing arias from the great operas, accompanied by Peter McMullin on the piano. Luci's story is rather like an opera plot in itself - a nice one fortunately rather than one where everyone gets murdered or dies of consumption! Busking in Covent Garden market, Luci was heard singing and invited to perform at Boarstall.

The music room at Boarstall is on the top floor of the tower and is reached by ancient, spiral stone staircases. Light and airy, it holds about 100 people so makes an intimate space where you can really relate to the performers and fellow audience. Luci's singing was delightful, a pure clear voice, she obviously will - or deserves to - go far. Not just a wonderful coloratura soprano, for her encore, she accompanied herself on the piano singing a great blues number.

After the concert, Luci joined us all with a tour of the tower (how cross I was that, by then, I'd taken the camera back to the car) followed by afternoon tea, where she proved that she had a great personality off stage as well as on.

You will find a link to Luci's website here, for Luci should be heard far and wide. And if, by a remote chance, Luci you should read this post, thank you for a memorable day out. Can't wait to hear you again. Bravo!


  1. Looks like a wee bit of heaven to me!

  2. What a great day it must have been! Larry

  3. What a marvellous place for a picnic and a concert. A lovely story about Luci too, I hope she goes far.

  4. Thank you all for your comments. It was a lovely day out.


  5. Sounds like an absolutely wonderful day...and in such interesting environs!

  6. I looked at your previous post mentioning coronation chicken and the recipe hasn't been posted. Would you consider sharing it? Making that recipe will be about the only way I can come close to having a great day such as you enjoyed! Thanks in advance.

  7. Watch this space kjm - recipe will be here in comments very soon!

  8. What a nice day out you had!

  9. I have only just come across your blog. Thank you for your kind comments about Luci's most successful recital here at Boarstall. We had several very enthusiastic emails about her performance.

    You will find part of her recital here on youtube - e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am-dQQur0Fw&feature=related

    Luci will be singing in Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester-on-Thames on Sunday 18th September with the Orchestra of St. John's (www.osj.org.uk) in Beethoven's Mass in C.

    To celebrate the Septcentenary of the building of Boarstall tower, We hope to have a three day music festival here at Boarstall Tower over the weekend of 22nd - 24th June 2012 and we have invited Luci to return then.

    We are doing all we can to support Luci and take her career forward. Her website is http://www.lucibriginshaw.co.uk/

    The Boarstall Tower website is www.boarstall.com

    If you would like to be informed about concerts at Boarstall or about Luci, please email rob.dixon@erros.co.uk with the subject "Concerts". I don't use my gmail account very often.

    Rob Dixon

  10. Many thanks, Rob, for a fabulous day out. I made sure that I was placed on the mailing list and am looking forward to my next trip to Boarstall greatly.



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