Busy year ahead for the town of Newbury

PUBLISHED: 15:24 12 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:24 12 January 2016

Highclere Castle will showcase the gardens and parkland

Highclere Castle will showcase the gardens and parkland


It’s going to be a busy year, with the final flourishes being put to the racecourse development and celebrations at Highclere. Claire Pitcher reveals more

Backing a winner

Floor to ceiling windows, concertina doors, spacious terraces and balconies and open plan living – the mews homes at Newbury Racecourse are now on the market. A lot of us might be thinking of a new home for the New Year and there’s no escaping how unique these David Wilson Homes are.

The mews homes offer opulent four bedroom living looking directly over the concourse, which definitely puts a whole new spin on having a ‘room with a view’.

Some of the available plots have a garage, garden and are completely detached, whereas others enjoy high-up views from tastefully built balconies. Garden or not, these properties are sure to appeal to those who love horse racing, and buyers looking for something completely unique.

“We’re incredibly excited to launch The Mews phase here,” says sales director Rob Allen. “Newbury Racecourse in one of the best in the country, holding some of the most famous race events every year, so residents of The Mews will have a front row seat to these exclusive events right in their own homes.”

Homes at The Mews range from £580,000 to £883,000 and the show home is open to view from Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5.30pm, and Monday 12.30pm to 5.30pm. To find out more call 0844 273 8691 or visit www.dwh.co.uk.

Celebrate Capability Brown at Highclere

In the tercentennial year of Capability Brown’s birth, The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon will open their home to a limited number of guests as they showcase the gardens and parkland at the castle; revealing the hand of the master landscape gardener.

Capability Brown was the 18th century master designer who created landscapes on a grand scale. His vision ensured that the great house was surrounded by a beautifully crafted landscape, endless in its scope. Responsible for creating over a 170 gardens and parks across the country, Capability was involved in key elements of the stunning park at Highclere.

From 15 to 22 May and 13 to 17 October, visitors will be able to enjoy unique lectures and guided tours through the varied gardens and parkland. Tickets cost £80, which includes refreshments. There’s limited numbers, so email SSomerville@highclerecastle.co.uk to register your interest.

Also see www.highclerecastle.co.uk.

Discoveries at the museum

A new exhibition at the West Berkshire Museum is revealing to visitors the affects the English Civil War had on the county.

‘King or Cause West Berkshire and the First Civil War 1642–1646’ will be running until 27 November and depicts how people lived, ate and worshipped in the 1640s. It also features the two battles of Newbury and the role played by Donnington Castle.

West Berkshire Museum manager, Victoria Barlow, explains: “Newbury played an important part in one of the most turbulent moments of British history. We’re very pleased to be able to take a fresh look at the years between war breaking out and the defeat of Charles I.”

The exhibit also reveals how the Civil War affected local history. Family activities and school sessions are being held regularly with the help of volunteers, many of them members of re-enactment regiments. A loan box containing mainly replica items is also available and you will be able to return to the museum a few times during the year to see what content they have changed and added over the period. For more details on the talks and activities visit the museum or go to www.westberks.gov.uk/museum.

Newbury Spring Festival

If you’ve been a follower of the festival you will be delighted to hear that in their 38th year they are still managing to bring world class artists to Newbury for the first time. From 7 to 21 May a host of international musicians from the classical, jazz and world music fields will descend upon Newbury and give 50 concerts and performances at venues in and around the town, including Highclere Castle.

The opening night is an exciting programme of great English music, which includes the rarely performed Vaughan Williams Festival Te Deum played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Wilson. Although the world’s most exciting young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is returning to give a recital, he will accompany Korean violinist Hyeyoon Park, making an appearance together for the first time at the Festival.

For many years the Festival has seen the return of favourites Ballet Central but joining them and new for this year is Opera Project who will give a dramatic gala performance of their latest production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. But if you prefer something altogether more relaxed then try the Coffee Cantata, a work by JS Bach, staged as you have never seen it before by the Little Baroque Company, performed in a cafe environment including coffee in St Nicholas’s Church Hall.

This year there is the opportunity to join the Newbury Spring Festival Chorus to sing through some well-known choral works and songs from shows culminating in a performance for all the family. Tickets go on sale on 1 March. For more information go to www.newburyspringfestival.org.uk.

A new season for a new artistic director

The Watermill’s spring 2016 season, the first for the theatre’s new artistic Director Paul Hart, has been announced and there’s plenty to keep us entertained right through until July. “It’s a huge privilege to announce our new season,” says Paul. “The programme represents just a taste of the broad scope of work I hope to present to audiences over time. A mixture of classics, new writing, great rediscoveries and new adaptations. The Watermill has always been about supporting and developing artists and performers, myself included as a young director, so I’m particularly excited to introduce audiences to the next generation of young talent, particularly in Romeo and Juliet which we are working on in collaboration with The National Youth Theatre.”

As well as Romeo and Juliet, from 12 to 23 April, Craig Taylor’s One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, a series of hilarious, overheard encounters originally published in The Guardian, opens for a limited run before touring rural venues across the region. Alan Bennett’s warm, witty and poignant double bill of memoirs, Untold Stories: Hymn and Cocktail Sticks opens 5 May until 11 June, followed by Rona Munro’s stage adaptation of Richard Adam’s classic novel Watership Down from 16 June until 23 July.

To find out more about the productions and other events at the theatre see www.watermill.org.uk.

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