SECTION WEEKEND AT DOWN HALL COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL
26-28 March 2004
Eighteen Club cars and thirty-eight members and friends enjoyed a luxury weekend at Down Hall Country House Hotel in 100 acres of parkland on the Hertfordshire/Essex borders.
The grand setting of the hotel and the first-class segregated parking we were allocated proved to be very popular with members, as did the interesting visit to the delightfully restored Hylands House on Saturday afternoon. Rescued from near dereliction, Hylands has benefited from a programme of sympathetic restoration from Chelmsford Borough Council in whose care it now rests ably promoted by a small team of custodians such as our house guide Claire whose enthusiasm was infectious. Many of the ceilings in the house boasted quite magnificent coving and ornate decoration - even if on balance the Down Hall chandeliers had the edge. Sadly the house had lost many of its original fittings and we were even shown how thieves managed to steal a two-ton marble fireplace. The house even suffered the ignominy of having an SAS official jeep driven part way up the staircase at one stage in its chequered history much to the fury of the resident and apparently indomitable chatelaine who on another occasion thought nothing of dismissing a faithful servant for 'stealing' a mouldy marrow from the garden rubbish heap.
On Sunday we were all superbly entertained at the splendid premises of leading Rolls-Royce specialist
and dealer, P&A Wood, thanks to the exhaustive efforts of Dick Lees who ran proceedings with the
typically faultless efficiency of one accustomed to full naval discipline. Many members sampled joy-rides
in the brand new Phantom demonstrator or braved the chill elements in an open-sided but quite magnificent
1914 Silver Ghost owned by Andrew Wood - on which score I must warmly thank Daphne Leach and Andrew
Honour who served as such first-class wind-breaks and made the middle of the back seat quite the best
place to be situated for once!
Simon Buck - Committee Member