We were thrilled to have Dame Judi Dench come along to our NGS Garden Party last month. As a former resident of the village, she spoke of many fond memories of her time here. After the event, she sent this to us…
‘I first “discovered” Charlecote when I was appearing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1962, my first season there. Tom Fleming was a member of the company and was living in Hampton Lucy. I used to cycle out every morning from Stratford, collecting cream from Clyde Higgs Dairy on the way, have breakfast with Tom, then put my bike in the back of his car and drive back toStratford for rehearsals. They were wonderful days and I wish I had £1 for every time I walked up the lane to Charlecote.
Subsequently, after I married Michael Williams, we moved to the house next to the vicarage in Charlecote. Michael’s parents and my mother came to live with us in a sort of family commune. Our daughter Finty went to school in Wellesbourne, where Mrs. Zicken (I have no idea of the spelling!) once gave her a pair of high-heeled shoes which must have been about five sizes too large for her. From that day, Finty’s outlook on fashion changed, and she has had a shoe fetish ever since.
We all loved living in the village and I don’t know how many things I bought at the village shop. My father-in-law worked on the gate at Charlecote Park. When Dutch Elm Disease struck that wonderful avenue of trees, Michael and I did a couple of recitals to help raise money to plant some more. When I last went up to Hampton Lucy, I saw how much they had grown.
Every time we drove to or from Charlecote, we would have a bet in the car as to who would see Hampton Lucy or Charlecote spire first. I think it is appropriate that my husband, his parents and my mother are all buried in the churchyard at Charlecote. It is a place that is incredibly dear to my heart.’