Chance to see some of the finest vehicles in the world happens in Suffolk every year - here’s what you missed
- Credit: Archant
Gina Long reports on a thing of beauty which happens every year in Suffolk at Heveningham Hall but which many of us may not yet be aware of...
Where else can you expect to see racing thoroughbred pigs alongside some of the world's finest motor cars or stunt horses alongside incredibly rare vintage aeroplanes?
Nowhere other than at Heveningham Concours, which takes place each June alongside the long-standing Country Fair at Suffolk's finest Georgian mansion, Heveningham Hall, near Halesworth.
While the 5,000-acre Capability Brown-designed parkland estate plays host to aerobatic displays, flypasts, main ring events, shopping and a whole lot more, for the last four years a new, world-class event has been steadily evolving.
Its stage is the series of dramatic grass terraces designed by renowned landscape architect Kim Wilkie at the rear of the Grade I listed Palladian masterpiece, which play host to around 60 of the world's rarest and most valuable motor cars.
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Max Hunt, chairman of the judging panel, said: "With summer finally arriving just in time, this year's event was our most successful to date."
Indeed, it seems to have been yet another triumphant year for the event which was named best breakthrough event of the year at the prestigious Octane Heritage Motoring Awards held in London back in November.
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A Concours, the shortened version of the term Concours d'Elegance which translates from French as a competition of elegance, is an exhibition or parade of classic motor vehicles in which prizes are awarded for those in the best or most original condition.
This year's event took place last weekend and featured a stunning array of cars from the very dawn of motoring such as an 1898 Panhard et Lavassor M2F, up to the modern day with cars such as a 2019 Ferrari Monza SP1 and a 2019 Bugatti Chiron Sport. Williams F1 Heritage also sent four Formula One cars, including a Williams-Mercedes FW41 car driven in the 2018 season by Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.
The weekend got off to a flying start on Friday when owners and special guests departed the estate for The Heveningham Tour, a 50-mile jaunt through the glorious Suffolk countryside which this year also took in the Heritage Coast and Rendlesham Forrest before winding its way to the former RAF and later USAF Cold War airbase, Bentwaters near Woodbridge for a 'Putin's Picnic' themed lunch with cold war re-enactors and even an appearance by a very convincing lookalike, all the way from Poland.
After a drive along the main runway and 'donuts' for some of the super and hypercars joining the Tour, the cars made their way back to Heveningham Hall for a drinks reception and black-tie dinner where the guests drank Gusbourne English sparkling wine, Mullin Estate Wine Sangiovese and Macon Villages by Delas and dined on English asparagus with Berkswell cheese, chargrilled baby chicken with prosciutto, beans, truffle and barbecued leeks followed by English strawberry trifle with sauternes custard. Along with live music, a Supermarine Spitfire provided entertainment with a flypast.
On Saturday and Sunday, the event opened to the public and as if the cars weren't enough, the separate aviation concours featured some of the world's finest propeller aeroplanes, all displayed on a prominence overlooking the main estate drive.
Inaugurated in 2018 and born out of a desire to see and hear some of the supercars in their natural habitat, Horsepower Hill is a timed 1/8 mile 'drag race' along the estate's main drive for owners and invited guests. This year, as with last, spectators could get up close to the cars and watch all the action from grandstands or on the large screen on the side of the Horsepower Hill bus.
Kicking off the event in style, Nick Mason took to the hill in his stunning Ferrari 512 S. Other concours entrants included a 1938 Maserati 6CM, a 1990/91 Jaguar XJR-15 and a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.8 RSR but the fastest car up the Hill proved to be a Ferrari 488 Pista which made the sprint in 10.54 seconds.
Back in the motorsport concours, the judges (Max Hunt, chair; Lord Montagu; Romulus Rost, Marino Franchitti and James Elliott) awarded the top honours to cars in four classes. Taking the trophy in the pre-war class was the wonderful 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo Monoposto owned by Jennie Taylor and the late Hugh Taylor, whilst a special mention went to the 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix. In the post-war class, the top spot went to a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 owned by a private collection, with a special mention going to the for the 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS. In the supercar class, the winner was a 1993 Jaguar XJ220S owned by a private collection with the special mention going to the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa by Scaglietti. Finally, the Bentley Trophy was awarded to the 1931 Bentley 8 Litre Roadster by Corsica owned by the Corner family.
The aviation judges, Vic Norman (chair), John Romain & Paul Bonhomme meanwhile awarded the Hanna Aviation Trophy to the 1939 Westland Lysander TT MKIII owned by Aircraft Restoration Company based at Duxford, with a special mention going to the 1941 Curtiss P-40C Warhawk.
All of the prizes were awarded by Max Hunt at a Summer party with live music where guests dined on a selection of paellas, aged meats cut by hand and Italian antipasti followed by crepes suzettes. The trophies themselves are solid bronze and were specially created for the event by renowned Suffolk sculptor, Laurence Edwards.
For all the engineering excellence, adrenaline and glamour, perhaps the most spectacular feat of Heveningham Concours (and indeed the country fair) is that all proceeds and profits go into a charitable trust and the estate doesn't take its expenses. The Trust funds a local dementia unit, various cases of need locally and has contributed substantially towards building a new centre for a Community Care Nursing Fund where the local hospital was closed. It also supports local schools with equipment & provides a full 'i-mobility' design scholarship at the Royal College of Art.
Roll on 2020.