Rain And Shine: A Sunday Spent Among The Classics At Wilton House
Photography by Jake Eastham
Wilton Wake Up was generously hosted by Lord Pembroke at his beautiful, stately home in Wiltshire. All proceeds go directly to supporting exceptional care and specialist equipment at Salisbury District Hospital with a focus on cancer, cardiac care. and children.
Heavy storm clouds gathered on my journey to Wilton House, home to the Earls of Pembroke since the 1540s. Inside hang Rembrandts and van Dycks, but outside were masterpieces of a different kind, pre-’88 classic cars (with a few exceptions, as you can see in the form of the lavender 993!).
As I made my way under the imposing entrance arch the heavens were torn open, dropping what felt like a month’s worth of rain in the space of ten minutes. Taking shelter under the arch with the gathering crowds we watched, mesmerized as the rain fell on the perfectly polished cars in front of the main house. It really was a surreal moment. We stared wordlessly at the eclectic line up being power-washed in front of us, the only sounds were the rain hitting the gravel and metal, and the steady splash of the central fountain.
The storm stopped as abruptly as it had started, and as if woken from a trance the small crowd emerged as one from under the arch like the start of a race to get a closer look at the cars and their fresh coats of beaded rainwater.
A beautiful Porsche 1600 Super drew much of the crowd’s attention, but a small aftershock of the showers had started up again so I made my way through a small side door and into a large airy outbuilding that is home to Lord Pembroke’s private car collection. The impressive display provided welcome respite from the wet, and I had the place mostly to myself as an added bonus.
The centerpiece is a battleship-grey Mercedes-Benz 300 SL with its gullwing doors aloft and a tidy suitcase tucked behind the red leather seats taking up my view through rear window. Perhaps the epitome of post-war elegance, it’s a car that I like imagine myself driving through alpine lakes on warm summer evening, a daydream that’s a welcome break from the Wiltshire monsoons of the morning.
A Boxer Ferrari, Jaguar E-Type, Alfa Romeo 8C, a Skyline R34, and an array of other unique machines sparkle under the spotlights, but I was curious as to what lay behind the scenes. After chatting with one of the very helpful guides, she kindly took the rope down and allowed me into a dimly lit workshop where the carcass of a Ferrari sat on blocks waiting to be resurrected. Happily absorbed in taking pictures, I failed to notice that the sun was now shining brightly outside, the rain seemingly ended for real this time.
Porsches, Range Rovers, Triumphs, plenty of Ford Escorts and Capris and Cortinas all resplendent in their dewy coats made for a perfect ending to a rather dramatic morning.