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how Emma Manners is transforming the landscape at Belvoir Castle Two hours before I am due to arrive at Belvoir Castle to meet Emma, 11th Duchess of Rutland, she calls to ask what time the train gets in, keen to collect me herself.
Stepping out of her Range Rover at Grantham station, she's all smiles and "how d'you dos", before our tour of the Belvoir Estate in Leicestershire. Emma married David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, then Marquis of Granby, in 1992. The couple, now separated, live in different wings of the castle; their five children, aged 14 to 22, split their lives between boarding school, London and the family grounds. What is it like to be the First Lady of Belvoir? Busy, Emma says. She's not just pandora rings australia online a duchess but chief executive, too, in charge of Belvoir's commercial wing. Since arriving in 1999, when her husband succeeded to the dukedom, work has been non stop. Although these appeared typical of his previous work, incorporating his trademark lakes, flattened areas and belts of trees, they also showed a progression in his thinking. Capability Brown at 300: what's on While at nearby Burghley House he tore up parterres and at Chatsworth demolished the village of Edensor to move it out of sight of the house, by the time he reached Belvoir, Brown was drawn towards a medieval style of landscaping. To show this, he retained the estate village of Woolsthorpe, and reinstated the warren the hunting space for hare, pheasant and partridge with a hawk and the chase, the open land for hunting deer and foxes with dogs; and focused on trees and vistas. Discovering the Brown maps opened Pandora's box. "I knew that Brown was an extraordinary landscape architect, but I didn't understand the relevance of finding this plan," she adds. Pregnant, and not long moved in, the timing wasn't ideal. "I just didn't get it. I thought, I can't cope with that at the moment, so I told the archivist to put it back in the box." The Duchess was not, she admits, agardener when the family moved to Belvoir. "I know a lot more now than I did, but I knew nothing then," she says, smiling. Then again, when she arrived, "everyone just used to say that Belvoir hasn't got a garden". She did know that the 16,000 acre estate was due a remodel. Driving pandora sale bracelets around it, she points to areas as large as arboretums that had been long strewn with dead trees. She had four full time gardeners. "I didn't know what to tell them to do. The gardens are one of the things that terrified me the most," she says. It was only when garden historian Steffie Shields telephoned Belvoir wanting to write a book on the landscape that the estate decided to revisit the plans. This work has continued a trend set by her predecessors. The work on Belvoir Castle has been a collaborative, intergenerational effort. Although it was Charles Manners, the fourth Duke of Rutland, who had commissioned Brown, he died in 1787, leaving it to Elizabeth, wife of the fifth Duke, to kick start some of his work. Elizabeth, who arrived at Belvoir in 1799 from her family home Castle Howard, in Yorkshire, redeveloped much of the estate after the 1816 fire. Influenced by the post French Revolution Romantic movement fashionable at the time, she mixed together the rugged planting of the Picturesque with Brown's smoothlines. At first, the estate assumed that Elizabeth had simply carried out Brown's plan and added her own embellishments, but the archive revealed that many of his basic designs had already been implemented. It was only when the fourth Duke came close to bankruptcy that Brown's work washalted. Elizabeth also installed a new entrance to the estate. Having discovered that his ideal spot on the other side of the estate would be impossible owing to land ownership agreements, she installed her own, off what is now the A607. The wrought iron gates that stand there today, described by Emma as "really rather sad", were put in later by Violet, wife of the eighth Duke. "When the coffers are a little fuller, I will come and reset the gates. I feel I've been sent to finish the job off," Emma says. She is not without help: driving past two tiny cedar trees an original Brown hallmark she remarks that they were gifts from Highclere Castle. "Fiona [Countess of Carnarvon] very sweetly brought them up." With Charles Williams of Caerhays Castle, she has been able to create a series of woodland gardens. "Every year I clear the woods and Charles comes up and plants azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolias. Cross pollination between the estates is still going on." Brown planted what Emma calls a "world of Belvoir", one that she is set on re creating. Gesturing towards a spot where she has planted evergreen pandora charms cheap online oaks to fill a gap, she says: "There always needs to be a backdrop [to landscapes]. It's like a back curtain." A keen rider, she says the best way to see the estate is by horse. "You're going at a certain pace as you're walking and trotting around, and you're slightly elevated. I love riding on my own and just pandora beads outlet taking it in." Riding has also helped her survey the next round of projects. Over the past 15 years, she has installed 17 miles of stone roads, planted 83,000 trees and put in 15 acres of ponds and lakes. Over soup and sandwiches, she is reflective about her role as Belvoir's custodian. "Nothing belongs to you. Ifeel very privileged that I have been put in this position. You just can't play with heritage. There's no 18 hole golf course going in, because I want to be respectful to the history. You can do things with heritage that leave scars for the future." Throughout the day she refers to the Duchess Elizabeth as her mentor.
"She was quite a doer," she says. Emma is too, it seems. "I always say I'm the duchess with a digger.