When John Sanderson, a pupil of the famous English landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown, initially laid out the Claydon Estate gardens for the 2nd Earl Verney, in the 18th Century, the first steam-powered horseless carriages were at a very embryonic stage and the first petrol-fuelled internal combustion engine was still some 100 years away. There was, therefore, no need to make any provision for them in his plans. Move forward to the 21st Century and all forms of cars, motorcycles and even tractors became the focal point of the gardens as the foliage withdrew from center stage to provide an excellent backdrop for the inaugural celebration of motoring, “Cars in the Claydons,” a joint venture between Nicholas and Alexandra Verney and James Beckett of James Beckett Motorsport.
The Kitchen Garden held a delectable display of Audi’s finest competition cars, from the 2013 R18 e-tron Quattro Le Mans car to the Audi 80 formerly raced by Sir Stirling Moss and Martin Brundle in the BTCC, an R8 GT3 and Frank Biela’s A4 Super Touring car. While Audi “stole the show,” there was a plethora of other competition cars to keep those racing memories flooding through the mind. The Pool Garden became the motorcycle paddock for the Claydon Cup machines and display arena for all things two-wheeled. A step through the wrought iron gate took visitors to the concours lawn, where examples of Fraser Nash, Invicta, Riley and Vauxhall were on parade—gleaming in the morning sunshine.
The South Lawn was covered with another copious collection of cars with the Ford RS Owners Club displaying the powerful Tony Southgate/John Wheeler-designed RS200 Group B rally car. Other rally cars included two WRC Subaru Imprezas of the late Richard Burns and Colin McRae, and McRae’s WRC Martini-liveried Ford Focus. For good measure, there was even a Delorean DMC-12—star of Hollywood’s Back to the Future film—and maybe, once again, back in limited production next year?
The static display of cars was augmented by the arrival of the first “Cars to the Claydons Scenic Tour,” as competitors took their place in the Prestige Parking area. The Courtyard offered a magnificent exhibition of paintings, drawings and sculpture entitled “A Celebration of Motoring and Motorsport Art,” presenting works by more than 20 top artists from the Guild of Motoring Artists. Show organizer James Beckett remarked, “We are thrilled that ‘Cars in the Claydons’ proved to be so popular, and Nicholas and Alexandra Verney (below) and myself are determined to make 2017 an even bigger success.”
Yes, this first “Cars in the Claydons,” despite the afternoon showers, was a great event and well received by the public. If you didn’t make it this year, make a date in your diary for the first weekend in September 2017, for next. It’s amazing what you may find in an English country garden!