- 1997 High Sheriff of Essex
Erith , 20 January 1998
was painted in May 1997 when I was High Sheriff of Essex. The High
Sheriff must be a landowner in his or her County and is appointed by
the Queen and holds office for one year. The origins of the office
go back to the days of the Saxon kings, before England was unified -
as you probably know, Essex was a Saxon kingdom for some 250 years.
I was the
816th recorded High Sheriff, although many in Saxon and Norman times
were not recorded. In the Saxon, Norman and Plantagenet times, the
High Sheriff held great power, being responsible for collecting
taxes and maintaining law and order.
Sheriff today is the representative of the Monarch on all matters to
do with Law and Order in the County. The post is largely ceremonial,
but contains various legal responsibilities and sitting with High
Court Judges, when they visit the County as well as working with the
Police and other authorities.
Sheriff takes precedence over everyone else in the County, except
the Lord Lieutenant, during his or her year of office. Visits from
the High Sheriff are welcomed by charitable organisations and public
services and provide an opportunity for them to be thanked for their
work by a representative of the Queen.
In my year
we travelled 5,000 miles in Essex and attended about 250 functions.
It was a uniquely enjoyable and fascinating experience.
Farm and Family History
We have lived here since 1966, but only started buying back what
had previously belonged to Shrubs Farmhouse in 1980. The farm now
extends to 260 acres.
Firstly the barns which were restored from a state of near
collapse by local craftsmen, followed by the farmland, which at that
time resembled a prairie. Any hedges not grubbed out were regularly
flailed to ground level. This was the general practice at the time.
On acquiring the land, a 20-year plan of action was drawn up to
restore the landscape. The first priority was to restore the field
and boundary hedges, about five miles of which have been planted or
allowed to regenerate.
In these hedges are local English hardwoods such as Holly, Oak, Ash,
Hornbeam, Small Leafed Lime, Wild Cherry, Hazel, Cherry Plum, Field
Maple, Walnut, Spindle, Dogwood as well as Blackthorn and Hawthorn.
Since 1994, the gardens, orchard and fruit cage to the South, have
been created and a park of some 50 acres now surrounds the house.
We are experimenting to see what will grow well within the Park with
a range of ornamental trees. These include some 50 varieties of Oak
(Quercus) from all over the world.
Details can be found on separate pages, but most oaks do well here
and there are two mature specimens of Q. Ilex (Holm Oak) in front of
Other specimen trees include Taxidium Distichum (Swamp Cypress),
acers, prunus and various conifers for Winter cover including Cedars
of Lebanon and Giant Redwoods. The is also an avenue of Plane trees.