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Friday, 1st Feb 2019
The forgotten county
By Tim Porter
Stones in his pockets
Wednesday 24th April 2019
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Abbotswood lies between the villages of Upper and Lower Swell on the outskirts of Stow-on-the-Wold. Purchased in the mid-13th century by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, ownership passed from the mid-17th century through the Atkyns family and John Hudson to Alfred Sartoris who built a ‘new’ house in 1867.
In 1901 the new owner Mark Fenwick, a keen gardener with family wealth from coal business in Northumberland, engaged Edwin Lutyens whose initial advice was to ‘Blow it up and start again!’ However, Lutyens remodelled and extended the house and designed its striking architectural gardens.
In 1945 Abbotswood was sold to Harry Ferguson, famous tractor manufacturer and inventor, who lived there until his death in 1960. It is now in private ownership.
by L.S. Lowry.
Lowry painted this icy scene during a visit to the town in 1947. He was apparently fascinated by the architecture of the houses and buildings, which he found a contrast with the Manchester industrial cityscapes more usually associated with his work.
On the left is St. Edward's Hall, and the building on the right is now Huffkins Tea Room. The tree has since diappeared.
He wrote to his friend and fellow artist David Carr on October 20, 1946:
"I declare I am forgetting to tell you how I got on in the Cotswolds. Had a very good weekend, there is plenty of material. The villages are certainly very quaint, the stone - the buildings are mostly of stone - is very warm."
The painting was sold at auction in 2011 to an unknown bidder for £481,000.
Harry Ferguson (1884-1960) became one of the 20th century’s most celebrated inventors and pioneers. In 1945 he purchased the Abbotswood estate on the outskirts of Stow-on-the-Wold and lived there until his death in 1960.
Ferguson’s brainchild was the three point linkage system with hydraulics which, together with the collaboration of Henry Ford in America, resulted in the fore-runner to modern-day tractors. In 1946 Harry Ferguson promoted his “Little Grey Fergie” with a publicity stunt driving it down the steps at Claridges Hotel in London!
His engineering brilliance and innovation also extended into the aviation and motor-racing worlds. At the age of only 25 he was the first Briton to design, build and fly his own aeroplane and latterly was principal in designing the Ferguson P99 Formula One racing car—the world’s only Formula One winning four-wheel drive car which was driven to success by Stirling Moss in the Oulton Park Gold Cup in 1961.
The winning Ferguson P99 Formula One racing car, the first with four-wheel drive.
Harry Ferguson driving his 'Little Grey Fergie' down the steps at Claridges Hotel in London.
Harry Ferguson with Henry Ford