By Maureen Panchen

 Weather or Not? Marriage Proposals in an Unusual Climate 


Will the beginning of a New Year usher in a flurry of snow and ice? Looking through our archives at Minterne we discovered that until the war, ice hockey was invariably played at Christmas on the lake, which is 650 feet above sea level. The last recorded ice hockey match on the lake here was recorded in 1964 when the Digby children played with ordinary short hockey sticks.

In 1970 Euan Strathcona fell through the ice as it was not thick enough to support his weight. All his children promptly ran off – it was thought to collect a ladder to save him – but it turned out that they were fetching their cameras!

Snow drifting was recorded during the winter of 1963/1964 which was particularly bad especially on the old Sherborne road and near Nether Cerne. The Estate erected snow fences east of the old Sherborne road but they were never used and were eventually discontinued.

Ice on the lake seems to belong to a bygone age and Global warming now plays a big part in our weather patterns. For the last 10 years the Camellias have thrived in the gardens here and it’s noticeable that the big-leafed rhododendrons have been affected by the very hot sun over the last 10 or more years, which may be due to global warming.


A Marriage Proposal From the 16th Century

In the 16th century, John Digby, the younger son of Sir Robert Digby and Lettice Lady Offaly was sent by James I as Ambassador to Madrid in order to negotiate the Spanish marriage of Charles and the Infanta. One night, at his house of the nine chimneys in Madrid, there was a tremendous knocking on the door, and two cloaked and masked figures appeared. This was Charles and the Duke of Buckingham; Charles said that he wasn’t going to marry the Infanta without having seen her!

Buckingham then took over negotiations, absolutely ruined them, and so the marriage never happened. As his reward John Digby was made Earl of Bristol, and allowed to buy Sherborne Castle from the crown for £10,000. When Walter Raleigh had had a successful expedition to the Americas, Queen Elizabeth said, ‘what would you like?’ and he said ‘Sherborne,’ because he always used to ride to London from his home in Devon through the Sherborne valley. When Elizabeth gave him Sherborne, he decided the castle was too large and draughty, and built the new castle which we know today.


A Marriage Proposal for the 21st Century

We think that marriage proposals may have come a long way since the Duke of Buckingham upset the negotiations with the Spanish Infanta! To all those couples who were engaged in the New Year we send our Congratulations and invite you to visit Minterne for a viewing. If you are planning your wedding, Minterne is the ideal location – a house for all seasons and a venue unparalleled for its unique history and its setting while remaining very much a private family home.



January in the Gardens

All garden images courtesy of Mark Bobin

weddings at minterne
Gardens Open Daily
10am – 6pm    *    1st February to 8th November    *    Admission Price £6.00 (Children under 12 Free)
Season Tickets Available Here

Dogs welcome on leads    *    Parking is FREE for visitors in the car park opposite St Andrews Church    *    Minterne currently offers a selection of cream teas (weather permitting - please phone ahead to confirm)    *    Please note: Unfortunately, Minterne Gardens feature many uneven surfaces and are therefore NOT SUITABLE for wheelchairs    *    Minterne House itself is a private residence and therefore not open to the public without prior consent.