Ingestre Hall

Ingestre Hall, near Stafford, is a handsome Jacobean mansion. Built in 1613, it was the ancestral home of the Earls of Shrewsbury. The gardens were landscaped by "Capability" Brown, and the North front was redesigned by Nash, circa 1810. A fire in 1882 necessitated a major restoration.

Ingestre Hall

The 21st Earl and the Countess, who was a singer, had inaugurated an Opera Festival which ran for two seasons, 1957 and 1958. Some illustrious musicians performed at these events, including a young Janet Baker as Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas, 1957.

Witches from Dido

In 1960 the Hall was sold to West Bromwich Corporation who made it into a Residential Arts Centre - a very enlightened move at the time and a lasting success to this day.

Greg was a tutor there for ten years from 1974 and had the privilege of teaching and working with some very talented students. He also invited professional musicians to visit. For a 1974 production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet he enlisted the performing talents of Peter Holman (with whom he had recently been a fellow student at King's College, London) and his ensemble Ars Nova.

Ingestre had an ethos of shared artistic creativity. Schools and colleges booked short courses lasting five days, and some individual students were invited to return for on-going weekend workshops which allowed them to develop their talents, both individually and in teamwork with other students.

Time Wasters at Ingestre Hall

Time Wasters on the roof of Ingestre Hall – Phil Jones, "Fred" Skidmore, Dave Beale, Pete Ralley, Pauline Taylor, Ken Barnsley, Chris Stevens, Tim Pye

These young people from different schools which visited the Centre formed several bands to create music and play together. Some of the groups had ironical names like "Last Seen Struggling" and "Worse Than Useless". The most enduring and best of these bands was "Time Wasters Only" which grew into a pool of musicians known as the Time Wasters. Over time the membership changed and people came and went according to their other activities, such as leaving school and going to college or university. Composition was greatly encouraged and recording was introduced. The Time Wasters L.P. record, made at the Hall, consisted entirely of original material. On the strength of the success of this project the Ingestre Hall recording studio was inaugurated.

Ingestre recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary as an arts centre.

 

Copyright Greg Holt © 2006-11