exactly what the visitor expects, but over the last half-century the gardens have changed in subtle ways. There used to be more vegetable gardens with their proud owners as proficient as Chelsea exhibitors: in 1967 some of them were still farmworkers. An art-school principal showed her students’ work in an outhouse, and an Old Etonian potter produced hefty bowls and dishes singing hymns as the potter’s wheel turned. He also made a mean Cullen Skink. Formal garden design is now more noticeable than in the days of fruit and veg: there are gardens with beautiful statues and Monet bridges to cross to watch the swans.
The gardens may have evolved, but the enthusiasm which comes from a small population of 150 residents, remains.
For those of us greeting visitors in the carpark or handing out cream teas; there are sometimes surprises. Like the family from Darlington who came for the day: two hundred miles each way. Or the rally of VW Beetles who happened to pass by, dozens of them. Tens of village-made cakes and jams are made, honey and beeswax jarred, vital components of what nowadays might be termed an ‘experience’. But it must now be completely environmentally-friendly and utterly p.c. with gleaming Karzee Limited portaloos in place.
There is no chance these days of a repeat of the traumas suffered by one visitor in the early years, when a sudden gust lifted and blew away the tarpaulin surrounding the make-shift Elsan loos behind the Victory Hall!
It is still a good day out, certainly for those who return year after