|Six months have passed since American
lottery winner Ann Simmons and her British boyfriend Simon Titsley purchased Stoney Grove.
It has been a busy time of adjustments, both for Miss Simmons and for the village
community that she has joined.
Miss Simmons, the
daughter of an English Literature professor and herself a college instructor for a brief
period prior winning the lottery, has tried to bring a scholars perspective to her
new life at the Great House. She has instituted a research agenda for the restoration of
the mansion that currently involves architectural consultant Chester Vyse, who speaks very
highly of her, and trainee historian Emma Knytleigh. She also has plans to employ an
archaeologist next spring to undertake investigations of the estates grounds,
although this writer knows of no Roman sites in the area. Miss Simmons is also an active
participant in the campaign for the restoration of the Upper Puckering Parish Church, and
has generously contributed furniture and appliances to local charities.
Still, some in the village feel she could do more.
"We could have used her help in the Best Kept Village competition," argues
Colonel Bratherton. "Support from Miss Hall at Stoney Grove clinched the title for us
several times in the 1950s and 1960s. With a woman on the premises again, we had hoped to
reclaim that honour."
Miss Simmonss outspoken attitude towards
womens participation in local sport has also drawn fire. "We dont need
any of those American libbers burning their brassieres over here," grumbled Nigel
Morcombe. "Not that I advocate wearing them, but if theyre going to, they
should know their place. And its not on the pitch, its making the teas. We
dont want any women bowling bouncers."
Others have noted that, after six months, Miss Simmons
still finds her American habits hard to shake. Like most of her countrymen, she is an avid
consumer. Even when her income seemed threatened, the new proprietress of Stoney Grove
took pleasure in weekend jaunts to Italy, the installation of a costly satellite dish, and
most recently, the purchase of an antique portrait valued at thousands of pounds. Plans
for a golf course on the grounds are also rumoured.
What will the next six months bring? Miss Simmons was
unavailable for comment, but Frank Churchill, whom she employs as a hermit, offered these
insights. "When I picture Ann in six months time," he predicted, "I
see sunshine, bright colours, and new discoveries."--Nigel Twicks
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