We had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Lois Hunt , the organizer of the Heveningham Concours , which is taking place on the 8th & 9th of July 2023.
- Describe Heveningham Concours, its main offering and what makes it so special.
Heveningham Concours is a display of 50 of the world’s finest and most interesting cars together with up to 15 historic propeller aeroplanes. One of the things that makes it so different is the fact that the planes are parked in the parkland and the whole thing is surrounded by a Country Fair celebrating the rural side of life.
- 2023 celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is the main theme of this year’s event – can you tell us anything more about what we are to expect?
Yes, we are celebrating 24 hours of Le Mans as a theme – it is probably one of the toughest motor races in the world with particularly gruelling conditions. It is amazing to see the vast array of cars that have raced at Le Mans and which survive to this day. The Porsche 911 GT1 Evo and the Mercedes-Benz CLK LM – are just two examples that we will have on display this year and it is fantastic to think that these cars and many others are still around and being driven.
- What is the connection to vintage aeroplanes?
Away from the motoring element of the event, we also have our Aviation Concours. One never tires of seeing these planes not just static on the ground, but also in the air too! This year we will be displaying two Spitfires both in the parkland and the sky – and it is particularly interesting as these two-winged beasts were not only built together but were also flown together in the same wartime RAF Squadron. It’s histories like this that bring the Concours to life.
- The sculptures that form the trophies are incredibly unique. Why choose Laurence Edwards as the artist, and what’s the inspiration behind the designs?
Laurence Edwards is an incredible local sculptor, whose studio is barely 10 minutes away from Heveningham. He was an easy choice as he demonstrates a savage power in the sheer force of his work – a timeless rawness and dynamism that resonates well with both the automotive and aviation worlds. Laurence’s internationally acclaimed work includes a huge-scale bronze statue of the human form where he blurs the boundaries between nature and man – and beneath whose legs we will be having our picnic lunch on the Friday tour.
- The Concours takes place alongside the annual Heveningham Hall Country Fair, tell us a bit about the Fair and how it came to be at the Hall.
The Country Fair first started in 1996 as a small fundraising coffee morning in aid of two local village church funds. It has grown hugely now supporting six local villages and entertaining over 8,000 visitors each day. It is still very traditional and is now held over two days. The attractions have grown as much as the fair with horse displays, birds of prey demonstrations, dog shows, walled gardens, teas, monster trucks, and arts and crafts to name a few. This year we are also introducing a ‘Produce Market’ and fire feast cooking stage which will allow visitors to sample the very best of East Anglian food, all whilst supporting local businesses.
- There were many viral videos last year (2022) of supercars taking to the hill climb, how do you see it growing this year?
Horsepower Hill is run by a complete lunatic who curates an amazing selection of cars – anything from hatchbacks to hypercars participating in a 1/8 mile drag race up an estate road – I have no doubt that it will be exhilarating and entertaining for everyone involved.
- Where did the idea come from to present the cars on the terraces?
The terraces were designed by Kim Wilkie and built reflecting Capability Brown’s pastoral ideal and using the form of the land. It seemed a natural fit to display the cars on the terraces – much to Kim’s surprise and delight!
- How would you like to see Heveningham Concours develop over the years?
I don’t want it to develop too much – I would very much like to keep it a family affair concentrating on design and excellence. However, in saying this it takes place during a busy events period in the UK and this year, we are bookending what we have dubbed as ‘UK Car Week’ starting with Heveningham, a Supercar Driver event in the middle and ending with Goodwood – we also have to miss harvest.
- The Heveningham Concours attracts some of the finest automobiles, are you able to tell us which has been your personal favourite?
Frankly, too many to choose from – one car I would simply love to have got hold of was a Ferrari 330 P3 but sadly no luck yet. However, I am a huge Aston Martin and Ferrari fan so I do tend to be a bit biased.
- Charity plays an important part in the Heveningham Concours, can you talk about some of the causes that the Concours has supported?
Charity remains a central focal point of the Concours. All the proceeds from the Concours and the Country Fair go into a charitable trust which funds many cases of need locally and always has done. We are delighted to help causes such as East Anglian Air Ambulance, a dementia carers unit, Pear Tree Community Nursing Fund, Halesworth Football Club, and supporting local schools and cases of need. The Concours itself sponsors a full ‘i-Mobility’ scholarship for a student at the Royal College of Art.
- Are you able to talk about where the idea for Heveningham Concours came from?
We needed to keep the Country Fair fresh and evolving and with our love of cars and the garden terraces at Heveningham, it seemed a great idea. However, there are so many fantastic Concours out there we had to be a little different and to this end, we focus more on design – I feel very much that cars and planes are indeed works of art, design masterpieces that are worth displaying.
- What are your plans for future activations?
Absolutely no idea – I will be just delighted to get through 2023!