It’s been a difficult couple of months. In retrospect I think I’ve been a bit naive. When I took over running St Clere I thought the changes I wanted to make would be universally supported because I believed they would benefit all our neighbours. I wanted to open St Clere up more, to share it’s extraordinary atmosphere. I wanted to communicate more about St Clere to ensure people understood our aims. I wanted to tidy up the untidy corners and look after the place. I wanted to make enough money to ensure we could steward our corner of Kent into the future for the benefit of all the family and team at St Clere, and of our wider neighbours. I’ve written before about our specific stewarding goals, but to summarise I believe it is a case of evolve or die in the country estate world.
But it’s tough. Whatever we try to do, there are people who passionately wish that we wouldn’t do it and they are not afraid of communicating their feelings about what what a dreadful job we are doing; often publicly, sometimes untruthfully, and sometimes (my personal favourite) anonymously. And even if there’s only two or three objectors to a plan, they are much more dedicated and vociferous than the many people who may support us. This winter I have learnt that as much as I might want to, I can’t get everyone on board with anything we do. There are some people who simply won’t approve of anything we do unless it would be at home in Downton Abbey. And unfortunately things have to move on from those times, mainly because nobody is prepared to harvest the crops by hand for 2 shillings a week! Our plans this year will mean thousands of people will be able to enjoy St Clere, the gardens and the wider estate, and they will bring money and employment to the area.
It’s basically time for me to grow up, to stop imagining that I can please every single neighbour, and to have pride in what we are doing here.
Watch this space!