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A Week on the Estate: Ploughing Fields, Distilling Gin & Welding Iron

This week at South Ormsby, we continued our hard work at the Hall and on the land, and saw some skilled craftsmen perfecting their crafts.


In the fields, we took advantage of a break in the wet weather to do some ploughing in preparation for next year’s vining pea crop. As the temperature falls, the Lincoln Red herd will soon be moving to their newly finished winter quarters at Keal Yard. In the Hall, new graduate trainee Daniel Hall prepared to step into the big shoes of Estate Manager Paul Barnes, covering Paul’s patch while he enjoys a holiday.

Gin Distillery Manager Tristan Jørgensen is forging ahead with developing the estate’s own classy brand of gin. Tristan had a wide range of ingredients to play with, including dried apples, lemons and limes, juniper berries, liquorice root, coriander seed and bay leaves. Tristan macerated his chosen elements – naturally, the recipe can’t be disclosed – made a first distillation and gave graduate trainee Annie Jaspall the first taste of the test batch. The results were positive: watch this space for tasting notes. An online poll to name Tristan’s test-still got underway, with ‘Isolde’ leading ‘Big Berd’ by 57% to 43% at the time of writing.


As part of an ongoing commitment to preserve and enhance the estate’s original features for future generations, the beautiful iron fencing adjacent to The Massingberd Arms saw the installation of a new kissing gate by local fabricator Jamie Wilderspin.  Based at West Ashby, Jamie is an experienced and gifted crafter of metal with a fascinating career behind him.

This new addition to the original estate fence was hand-made the old-fashioned way. The ring section was heated and worked in Jamie’s workshop and the points were hammered out on an anvil. It was important to Jamie that his work matched the original early-Victorian metalwork in both style and substance. The fabrication was spread out over three days, with Jamie working the metal until his arms ached, then switching to other jobs. Hot metal shouldn’t be worked with a failing grip.


Jamie’s love of engineering was inspired by his grandad. He recalls watching him build his own incubator, then seeing the chicks hatch. Intrigued, Jamie found that if he was shown how to build something once, he could do it again. He graduated to working on motorcycles with his dad and grandad, taking things apart to see how they went together.


Jamie’s grandad once built superchargers for Rolls Royce aero-engines and Jamie was to take a similarly impressive path. He served an apprenticeship with British Aerospace, where his work included fabricating tiny, three-axis gyroscopes for ASRAAM missiles. He then worked in heavy engineering with a crane company, followed by a spell in precision engineering; CNC programming and machining large and small components.


As if Jamie’s career weren’t varied enough, he also worked for the Lola Formula 1 team before moving to West Ashby to take over his father-in-law’s business. Trading as Rustic Ironworks, Jamie currently undertakes all sorts of metal fabrication. Recent projects include making bespoke, old-fashioned spanners for a plumber, a copy of a Victorian bracket for a weigh-scale, ornamental weathervanes and animal sculptures.


The presence of skilled and versatile craftsman like Jamie is a real boon for our community.