Sunday 20 April 2014

Famous abbey school invites classic cars and visitors to raise money for a new roof

Owners of classic cars are being invited to a new Concours d’Elegance to be held at the famous Downside Abbey and School at Stratton on the Fosse in Somerset on Sunday 4th May at midday.

Entry for the owners of cars and their passengers is free, however the Abbot of the school and Abbey is hoping that hundreds of people will turn out to view the cars and help raise money for Downside Abbey Restoration Appeal, which is raising funds for the roof of the abbey.

Already more than fifty cars have signed up to the event and many more are expected. Downside are inviting the owners of vintage and classic cars, in any condition, to the Concours.

Tim Mercer, the organiser, said: 
“This is not just about expensive cars that have been fully restored, it is about any vehicle from a Morris Minor to a Rolls Royce, which the owner has lovingly restored or is working on.”
The event is open to all vintage and classic vehicles up to 1984 but exceptions may be made at the discretion of the organisers. The Abbot's Choice class is for any other interesting and unusual vehicles.

There will be three classes with approximately 15-30 cars in each class plus the Abbot’s Choice class: (1) Pre war, (2) 1945-1967, (3) 1968-1984 and (4) The Abbot's Choice.

There will be a prize for each class and an overall winner being awarded the "Abbots Cup" by the Abbot, Dom Aidan Bellinger.
1936 Squire
Amongst those signed up is an extremely rare Squire sports car. The car was designed by former pupil Adrian Squire when he was at the school in the 1920’s and will be one of the many highlights of the event, including a talk about his car design by the well-known motoring historian and Squire specialist Jonathan Wood.
Said Tim Mercer:
“We have been staggered at the response from classic car owners. There are cars coming from all over the country and two Allards coming from Malta.”

He added: “It should be a great day out for the public and we are charging just £5.00 for individual entry and £15.00 for a family of two adults and two children. We want to make this an affordable day out for everyone that will help us raise money for the roof and one that we can repeat on an annual basis.”

The Abbott, Dom Aidan Bellinger said: 
“Downside Abbey and School has been in celebratory mood as we look back two hundred years in Stratton on the Fosse. A whole series of events has been arranged including concerts, dinners and of course the first Concours d’Elegance which will be staged on our playing fields and which we hope will raise a considerable sum for our restoration appeal.”
Downside Abbey and School is located at Downside, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Radstock BA3 4RJ. 
Some background information on the project and a list of expected cars can be found below.
Restoration of the Abbey Church
One of the great masterpieces of the Gothic Revival, the Abbey Church was built by the monks of Downside between 1879 and 1925 with the tower completed in 1938. The project was funded at the time by individual benefactors and by the Monastic Community itself. Over a century later despite regular patching and maintenance it is now in desperate need of a new roof, repairs to some of the stained glass windows, cleaning and restoration of some of the stone work as well as modern energy efficient systems for heat and light. Sadly Downside doesn't have any significant endowment and have been turned down by English Heritage so we need to raise funds for all the work required ourselves. At current prices will cost in the region of £4 million.

£400,000 has been raised towards the project and thanks go out to everyone who has donated money which together with the sale of a property has enabled them to start Phase One, the repair of the roof. This first phase will take approximately a year to complete but will mean that by next winter the building will be wind and watertight again and the on-going damage to the internal stonework will cease. In the meantime  fundraising continues to raise the £4,000,000 needed to complete the project.

Cars definitely attending:

Pre War:
1904 De Dion Bouton
1921 Stutz Bearcat
1927 Trojan
1928 Bugatti Grand Prix Type 37A
1928 Alvis TG12/50
1929 Rolls Royce Phantom 2
1929 Alfa 1750
1930 Alfa Romeo 6c 1750 Zagato
1932 Riley Gamecock
1934 Aston Martin Ulster Le Mans Team Car
1934 Rolls Royce 20/25
1934 Jaguar SSII
1935 Squire
1935 Rover 12 Sports
1937 Jensen Open Tourer

1968 - 1984
1969 Bristol 410
1969 Ferrari Daytona
1972 Alfa Bertone GTV
1972 Fiat 500
1975 MGB GT
1982 Max Meyers Beach Buggy

1945 – 1967
1947 HRG 1100
1948 Allard M Type Drophead Coupe
1953 MG TD Sports
1954 Austin A30
1955 Jaguar XK140
1958 AC Ace Bristol
1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta spider veloce
1960 AC Aceca
1960 Abarth Allemano 2200 spider
1961 AC Greyhound
1961 Aston Martin DB4
1962 Aston Martin DB4
1965 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider
1965 Jaguar C Type
1965 E Type Roadster
1966 Lotus Elan SE DHC
1966 Aston Martin DB6
1966 Lotus Elan SE DHC
1967 Bristol 409

The Abbot's Choice
1987 Mercedes 420 SL
1989 AC MK1V Cobra
1998 Ferrari 550 Maranello
1999 AC Cobra Superblower
1999 Ferrari 360 Spider F1
Gilo Cardozo Skycar

The Judges:
Charles Trevelyan - Chairman Bugatti Owners Club
Bertie Gilbart-Smith - President AC Owners Club
David Barzilay - Motoring correspondent

For more information please go to:

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