Stately Homes And Brainstrust Neuro Oncology Charity

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 11th May 2008


I've been fortunate these last two weekends - not only has the weather been glorious (almost nothing can beat a sunny day in Spring when every tree and hedgerow is shimmering in newest green) but I've visited two very interesting and totally different Stately Homes.

Last weekend I went down  to stay with friends Simon and Des who live in lovely Kingsand/Cawsand near Plymouth. Not far from them and  earlier this year Port Eliot opened to the public for the first time.  It is the seat of the Earl of St. Germans and in lieu of death duties they are opening up their house for 100 consecutive days in order that the public can visit, enjoy and peruse their large collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds paintings.  They also have a large room decorated with murals by the recently deceased artist Lenkiewicz - not to the taste of everyone but certainly interesting.

 The house was a Priory and at the dissolution of the monasteries the building came into the domain of the Earls of St. German.  As we walked down the drive I commented that the adjoining church was disproportionately large for such a 'relatively' small house. Then I discovered that the Church (the third on the site) had indeed been much larger and very important in its day.  King Athelstane conquered the Celts in Cornwall in 936 and appointed Conan the first Bishop of the Saxon Diocese of Cornwall.  And to this day there is still a Bishop of St. Germans which is hardly more than a  tiny village.

The grounds are extensive and visitors may wander freely plus dogs who on Wednesdays are allowed off the lead.  You can picnic there too.

We met a very interesting guide called John and, as is my wont, I started questioning him about the house and church and, as he was going off duty, he accompanied us to the church and gave us a brief run down of its history.  He also told us that in the middle ages the house was called Port Priory and was a flourishing port.  The Eliots had the river sort of 'covered over'  so that the lawns sweep from the house to the distant horizon.

The Guide is £6 and I wish I'd had it well in advance.  It's one of the best Guides I've ever purchased and has some beautiful pen and wash sketches - though look as I might I couldn't find them credited to anyone.  Perhaps they were executed by Lord St. German.

The House is open until June 10th and I very much hope to get down again before the shutters are closed until next year.


This weekend I was invited to a Charity Ball in aid of Neuro Oncology.  The Brainstrust Ball was held at Highclere Castle nr. Newbury and I wondered that having lived in Buckinghamshire for over 20 years I never visited the place.  It is the seat of the Earls of Carnarvon.  The current building is, I think, Victorian - can't be more specific as there were no guide books to be had.

We were greeted by the Earl and his Wife and given free reign to wander around the downstairs rooms - magnificent they were too.  There were some fabulous paintings and I spied three Canalettos in one room alone. The place was dripping with wonderful Tapestries

BUT for me the highlight of the evening was being taken on a tour of the Museum celebrating the finding of the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun.  Because of course it was the then encumbent Lord Carnarvon who discovered the tomb in 1910 (I think that's the correct date).

I've always been fascinated by Egyptology.  And in 1966 whilst returning from Australia by ship , we had the choice of staying on the vessel through the Suez Canal or going on Nasser's Coach Tour.  I chose the latter and visited the Cairo Museum  where the accountrements and findings from the Tomb were displayed in a frightfully haphazard way.  I still remember that wonderful Funerary Mask.  Then some years later in the early 70's the Tutankhamun Collection was on show in the British Museum - and it was superb.

In 1995 I went on a trip down the Nile with my husband Eric - we visited many Temples and had the opportunity to enter King Tut's tomb. Perhaps I was less superstitious than my husband because I went into the tomb - he didn't.  Three months later he left me and I couldn't help wondering if the Curse of King Tut had been visited on me!!!!!!

But I am neglecting the Charity - Brainstrust was set up by a delightful couple - Helen and Peter Bulbeck  who had a fight on their hands to get treatment for their young daughter Meg who had a Brain tumour.  They are now working very hard to raise funds and awareness of this Cinderella of the Cancer World.  They are working closely with Professor Geoffrey Pilkington who is Professor of Neuro Oncology at the University of Portsmouth.  I can't begin to explain the  details of it all so why not click onto


Oh, nearly forgot to mention the lovely Claire Barnett - Events Manager at Highclere.  Somehow or other Professor Pilkington, his wife and I found ourselves the last to leave and without 'Carriages'.  We did order a taxi which didn't appear and, as I don't think the Countess was going to offer a bed for the night and the walk down the drive was a good two miles, we were rather at a loss. Then the lovely Claire came to our aid and offered a lift back to our Hostelry.  Thank you Claire

Must close as I've a million things to do and always the paperwork.

Go on my next Cruise on the 18th May. I'm taking Jonathan with me as he is part Norwegian and I know will enjoy seeing the Fjords.  This time I only have to give two talks on the two days at sea - for the remainder of the time we are in various ports.  So I should have some lovely photos to post on the web - providing it isn't raining all the time. In 1996 I gave talks on a cruise up the Norwegian Fjords for Page and Moy and the weather was appalling.

Bye for now and if you're down in the West Country before 10th June DO visit Port Eliot.

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