Hodsock Priory cancels snowdrops opening ‘with a heavy heart’

Bassetlaw country estate Hodsock Priory has cancelled its annual snowdrops event for the first time in 30 years - to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

By Ben McVay
Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 12:30 pm

Owner Sir Andrew Buchanan described the decision as ‘a pity’ however he added: “The most important thing is to stop this virus in its tracks.”

Sir Andrew, who has run the snowdrops event along with his wife Belinda since the 1990s, told how the priory had hoped to open its doors to the public on January 30.

This year, because food and drink would not be available at the long-awaited spectacle, Sir Andrew, 82, had planned to allow entry free-of-charge.

Snowdrops at Hodsock's Horse Pasture Wood. Photo: Catherine Hancock-Peat

He said: “We had hoped it would be possible but this has been an awful, exceptional year, so we’ll live in the hope that things will be much better going forward.

“It’s a real shame because it’s something people in the area really look forward to.

“When the weather’s like it is at the moment it’s not so great but over the years we’ve had quite a lot of good weather in February - and if you’re lucky with the weather it’s a wonderful sight.”

Grandfather-of-nine Sir Andrew, who has lived at the estate since 1966, said 2020 had been a ‘tough’ year.

Sir Andrew and Lady Belinda. Photo: Sarah Campbell

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With the stately home’s wedding reception business ravaged by the pandemic he added: “Let us hope this year is better - it’s tough but then it is for a lot of businesses.”

Towards the end of January every year five acres of garden and 12 acres of woodland at Hodsock are decorated with a carpet of the bell-shaped flowers - giving visitors a much-needed glimpse of spring.

The common snowdrop is called Galathus nivalis, which means 'milk flower of the snow’ - with snowdrop lovers named ‘Galanthophiles’.

Catherine Hancock-Peat – a volunteer at Hodsock who has nurtured her own snowdrop named after Sir Andrew's maternal Grandmother Lady Beatrice Stanley for three years – said: “We’re all so disappointed – it was just something to look forward to.

"Sir Andrew and Lady Belinda have kept it going all these years - this is the first year they’ve ever missed.”

Video footage by Skyriel Drone Solutions.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor