The Country Life Olympics

Heritage/Arts campaign
Saving Seaton Delaval

There was a hugely enthusiastic public response to the campaign to save this Vanbrugh masterpiece, which was taken on by the National Trust in November 2009. Contributors to the £3 million of public money, much of it local, included school-children giving their pocket money as well as The Prince of Wales and television cooks the Hairy Bikers.
Silver Saving the Titians
The purchase this year of Diana and Callisto by the National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland successfully concluded the negotiated sale of two important Titians-
the other was Diana and Actaeon-for £95 million from the Duke of Sutherland.
Bronze Saving Moat Brae
This derelict Georgian town house in Dumfriesshire, an inspiration for Peter Pan, was threatened with demolition. Following an energetic local campaign, it has been bought by the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, which has already raised two-thirds of the money needed. The plan is to open it to the public in 2015. Marcus Binney

Best film
The King’s Speech

Being king isn’t easy, especially when you have to battle a speech impediment and crippling shyness. This depiction of George VI’s brave battle had Oscar written all over it, especially for Colin Firth, who made us feel every last painful moment of the struggle.
Silver The ‘Harry Potter’ series
The final films in the series showed how far Harry and his film-makers had come and were a showcase for Britain’s talented wizards on and off screen.
Bronze Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Screenwriters Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan did an excellent job of compressing the novel into a film full of 1970s atmosphere. Stars Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch all gave standout performances. Jane Watkins

Food producer
The Potted Game Company, Birdlip, Gloucestershire

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Delicious, original offerings based around fresh British game preserved in butter. Jemima Palmer-Tomkinson and Rory Baxter produce a modern twist on traditional favourites, such as potted quail with Somerset cider brandy. Each 65g pot in the range is incredibly versatile-slice and enjoy as a starter, nibble on toast, stir through pasta or store in the freezer while you make your mind up.
Silver Rannoch Smokery, Pitlochry, Perthshire
Smoked meats, pâtés and chutneys made from local wild venison, lamb, beef, salmon and duck. The company was founded when snow closed roads, forcing them to brine venison in the bath and smoke it in a handmade smoker.
Bronze Rubies in the Rubble, Borough Market, London SE1
Jenny Dawson (Frontispiece, February 1) scours London’s markets for surplus produce, which she uses to handmake gorgeous jams and chutneys. Flora Howard

Conservation project
Return of the otter

Philip and Jean Wayre released 117 captive otters into the wild to help boost the dwindling English population that had been depleted by river pollution. The programme was so successful-the creatures have returned to nearly all rivers-that The Otter Trust closed in 2009, its mission accomplished.
Silver Woodcock satellite tagging
The GWCT fitted miniature satellite tags on 12 woodcock this spring-you’ll be able to watch their movements online-in its latest research into the lifecycle of this enigmatic woodland and wader bird.
Bronze The Duke of Norfolk’s grey-partridge recovery
This project, which won the Purdey gold award for conservation in 2010, has seen numbers of wild greys saved from near-extinction on the Duke’s Arundel, West Sussex, estate and enhanced to a shootable surplus. Paula Lester

Television documentary
Nature’s Great Events (BBC1, 2009)   

It seems invidious to single out one David Attenborough programme, but the fishing grizzly bears, migrating wildebeest and sardine feeding-frenzy-truly great wildlife filming-transport the watcher straight to the riverbank. The worrying thing is that there seems to be no natural successor to Sir David, whose style is to remain soothingly behind the camera rather than bouncing irritatingly in front of it as younger presenters insist on doing.
Silver Lucian Freud:Painted Life (BBC 2, February 2012)
An affectionate, non-sycophantic portrait with fresh insights from the artist’s proper friends-the Duke of Beaufort described Freud as ‘a show-off who didn’t want to be noticed’ sitters and lovers.
Bronze History of Christianity (BBC 4, November 2009)
Diarmaid MacCulloch’s sensitive, provocative exploration of the development of Christianity.
Kate Green and John Goodall

Human chain by Seamus Heaney (2010)

One of our greatest living writers in his pomp and tackling the big themes (death included) with his sly, light touch.
Silver Black Cat Bone by John Burnside (2011)
Another fine collection from a poet approaching greatness. Rich and strange language.
Bronze Of Mutability by Jo Shapcott (2010)
Finely controlled and nuanced with depths of implied emotion. Tim Richardson

Camel Valley Cornwall Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2010

British sparkling wines are giving top-class Champagnes a run for their money. This acclaimed sparkling rosé from Cornwall’s Camel Valley Vineyard is one: pale salmon-pink in colour, the bubbles are tiny and vivacious and the aromas fragrant and expressive, bursting with strawberries and brioche. A beautiful, dry, crisp, complex wine-a second bottle will be hard to resist.
Silver Sharpham Partnership Dart Valley Reserve, 2010
With uplifting, delicate aromas of green apple and melon, this brilliant-quality dry, still, white wine from Totnes has a refreshing, crisp finish.
Bronze Ridgeview Cavendish, 2009
A dry, white sparkling wine with depth, finesse and focus from the highly regarded Ridgeview estate in East Sussex. Siobhán Gillespie, Haynes Hanson & Clark

Garden restoration Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

A complex and extensive restor-ation by English Heritage show-casing the evolution of landscape gardening across 300 years. Within a short period, key features have been restored, returning the Grade I house in Bedfordshire to its elegant setting in a fascinating long-term project.
Silver Croome Park
A serene Capability Brown landscape and pleasure ground in Worcester-shire, magnificently and sensitively restored by the National Trust.
Bronze Horniman Museum and gardens
Intelligent regeneration of well-loved Victorian gardens around one of London’s most enthralling natural history and ethnographic museums. Kathryn Bradley-Hole

Meat producer
John and Patricia Stanley, Leicestershire

The Stanleys started their Blackbrook herd of pedigree Longhorns in 1989 and have worked tirelessly to establish it as one of the best in Britain, win-ning prizes with their cattle and praise for their meat. In 2009, Longhorn beef won Country Life’s Best British Steak competition. Now, beef from the breed, one of Britain’s oldest, is internationally renowned for its flavour and tenderness. As Mr Stanley has said: ‘Once you’ve tasted Long-horn beef, you’ve tasted real beef. Nothing else compares.’
Silver Oliver Whiteley, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
He has spent the past few years building up the largest herd of Gloucestershire Old Spots there has ever been (soon to reach 750 sows), and has a contract to supply pedigree pork to Marks & Spencer.
Bronze The Butchery in Maltby Street, London SE16
Although Nathan Mills’s establishment is only open on Saturday mornings, you can choose from
Belted Galloway, Dexter or traditional Hereford beef, Gloucestershire Old Spot pork and Llanwenog lamb.The Countess of Cranbrook and the Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing Company’s Richard Lutwyche

‘The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700′ (National Gallery, 2009-2010)

A revelation. Everyone knows the paintings, but only the Spanish and specialists knew the painted sculptures that depict, with astonishing realism, the great Christian art themes.
Silver ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan’ (National Gallery, 2011-2012)
An unprecedented gathering of the paintings probably for much more than a lifetime-described as ‘one of the exhibitions of the century’ by Roy Strong.
Bronze ‘Eden and other suburbs: the life and works of Ivor Abrahams, RA’ (The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, January-March 2012)
A breath of fresh air. John McEwen


‘The best horse I’ve ever seen. The best horse you’ve ever seen. The best horse there’s ever been.’ Few would argue with Willie Carson’s assessment of the son of Galileo. Trained by Henry Cecil and officially rated as the best horse in the world, Frankel has won all his 11 races, many in breathtaking style. His most recent win by 11 lengths against a top-class field in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot left racing writers struggling for superlatives. There may never be another horse of his equal.
Silver Sea The Stars
In 2009, he won six Group One races in six months, including the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby, the Eclipse Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Bronze Kauto Star
Hugely popular five-time winner of the King George and the first to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Mark Hedges

Range RoverEvoque (2011)

The Daley Thompson of British cars, the Evoque is good at almost everything and adored for its cheeky charm. Capable off-road yet stylish down the King’s Road, the little Range Rover is championing British design around the world, winning awards, selling by the bucketload and securing thousands of jobs at home.
Silver McLaren MP4-12C (2010)
The Italians have dominated the high-speed events for years, but this newcomer from Woking, which does 0-60mph in three seconds, has given them a fright.
Bronze Bentley Mulsanne (2010)
Under its new German coach, it’s taken Bentley to a new level of refinement and sporting prowess.
Stephen Moody

Public monument
Adam Smith monument by St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh

A 10ft bronze of the Scottish economist and philosopher by the astonishingly accomplished Sandy Stoddart, almost the only sculptor in Britain today who understands the tradition of monuments and can design a proper plinth.
Silver Corpus Clock on the corner of Trumpington Street and Bene’t Street, Cambridge
On a building that was formerly Lloyds Bank and is now the library of Corpus Christi College: big, fascinating, witty, with a big grasshopper as the escapement.
Bronze The Ship-in-the-Bottle, Trafalgar Square empty plinth
The only good and entertaining work that has appeared on that plinth. It’s gone now, but a new home is being found for it. Gavin Stamp

Agricultural advance
Affordable Global Positioning Satellite software
Competitively priced GPS systems are giving farmers and growers the ability to implement highly accurate planting systems. These nifty devices can also help with fertilising appli-cations and harvesting, as well reducing soil consumption.
Silver Robotic milking machine
Although not new, the use of this technology-which automatically recognises whether a cow has already been milked, enabling them to come and go as they please-has risen significantly on dairy farms in the past four years.
Bronze Polytunnels
Simple yet effective, polytunnels allow crops to thrive in optimum conditions, protected from inclement weather. They extend the growing season, reduce food miles and give UK crops the chance to compete with foreign imports. National Farmers Union

Television drama
Downton Abbey (ITV)

It seemed the whole country settled down on Sunday evenings to watch this series created by Julian Fellowes, and, on Mondays, offices rang with opinions on whether Lady Mary would marry Matthew, is Bates guilty and why Dame Maggie Smith gets all the best lines. The BBC’s Upstairs, Downstairs was a very pale imitation indeed.
Silver Sherlock (BBC1)
Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss’s loving and witty updating of Conan Doyle’s detective was perfectly personified by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
Bronze Mo (Channel 4)
It must have been a daunting task to embody the late Mo Mowlam, but Julie Walters more than captured the politician’s spirit and Neil McKay’s script caught her irrepressible humour. Jane Watkins

Potting Shed, Crudwell, Wiltshire

Opened just before the 2008 Olympics, it’s quickly taken the lead. With a great atmosphere and quirky individuality, a good summer garden and warm, winter log fires, it’s as friendly to dogs as it is to their owners. Open all day, this hostelry boasts some of Britain’s best beers, uses local fruit for liqueurs and seasonal cocktails, and serves proper country cooking, with some vegetables grown on its own allotments.
Silver Queens Head, Hawkedon, Suffolk
A classic country pub in idyllic surroundings that’s recently opened its own weekend butcher’s shop.
Bronze Gloucester Old Spot, Piff’s Elm, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Opened in 2010 below beautiful Coombe Hill; it highlights rare-breed meats. Alisdair Aird, editor of ‘The Good Pub Guide’

Musical composition
Ubi caritas et amor by Paul Mealor

Commissioned by Prince William for his marriage to Catherine Middleton, it touched the hearts of listeners in Westminster Abbey and around the world with its serenity, nobility and sweetness, demonstrating how uplifting contemporary classical music can be.
Silver Violin Concerto (Sir Harrison Birtwistle)
Complex but exhilarating, it won instant praise from audiences and critics for its questing originality,
an ear-opening journey of beauty and surprise.
Bronze String Quartet No. 2 (Anthony Payne)
Renowned for his completion of Elgar’s Third Symphony, he proved his own creative voice was in fine fettle with this lyrical, adventurous piece, winner of the Chamber Music prize at last year’s British Composer Awards. Geoffrey SmithRestaurant

Restaurant The Waterside Inn, Bray, Berkshire
Located on the banks of the Thames, the Roux family’s elegant restaurant with rooms is as slick as ever. Although this esteemed establishment has been serving delectable French cuisine since 1972, it remains a leading light in the world of gastronomy, thanks to the quality of its three-star Michelin menus and impeccable levels of service.
Silver The Walnut Tree, near Abergavenny, Wales
Famous since it opened in the 1960s, the inn and restaurant now run by Shaun Hill and William Griffiths are always impressive.
Bronze Alyn Williams at The Westbury Hotel, London W1
Located in one of the capital’s swankiest five-star hotels, the sumptuous French and Italian dishes exemplify fine dining at its very best. Charles Campion

Fashion designer
Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

Designing The Duchess of Cambridge’s exquisite wedding dress and the equally charming bridesmaid’s outfit for her sister, Pippa Middleton, catapulted Sarah Burton into fashion royalty. Renowned for her hands-on approach, she is often seen with dressmaking scissors in her back pocket. Her hard work and daring dedication as an advocate of creativity makes her the British designer of the moment.
Silver Christopher Bailey for Burberry
No one can ignore those advertising campaigns, and he’s firmly put his sartorial imprint on
a quintessentially British brand.
Bronze Stella McCartney
The designer of Team GB’s London Olympics strip is the graduate of a peerless British institution: Central Saint Martins in London.
Hetty Chidwick

Building restoration

An exemplary restoration project that has returned an important building to use as a private country house in Oxfordshire. With its interiors once more richly furnished, the full architectural interest of this remarkable house is revealed. It was built as a Georgian villa for a Cath-olic patron, bringing the fashions of Bath to the countryside, and it’s hard to believe now that it was ever in institutional use.
Silver Aldourie
A romantic Scottish baronial castle near Inverness, restored to the highest standard with sumptuous furnishings, art and landscaping.
Bronze St Pancras Station
A splendid work of Victorian architecture returned to glory and to life as a hotel and international station. John Goodall

Parish church restoration
St Andrew’s, South Warnborough, Hampshire

An exemplary community-led restoration and the winner of Country Life’s Village Church for Village Life Award 2009. The work included a new chapel, a kitchen and a loo. Internal reworking freed up space to increase the seating capacity and the insertion of a moveable screen allowed for more flexible use of the aisle. New skylights and the removal of trees in the graveyard improved lighting.
Silver St James the Great, Aslackby, Lincolnshire
Another Country Life award winner; with new seating attractively upholstered with reeds and new spaces-including a kitchen and loo-created behind a western screen, the church has
been transformed.
Bronze St Peter and St Paul, Wolverhampton, Birmingham
A derelict Roman Catholic church of 1729, originally disguised as a house, has been restored to use and provided with a new crucifix by Rory Young. John Goodall

New building
Velodrome, Olympic Park, London E20 (Hopkins Architects)

Sleek as a boat, uplifting as an Ascot hat-vive le vélo!
Silver The Hepworth Museum, Wakefield, West Yorkshire (David Chipperfield Architects)
A temple to the goddess of abstract sculpture, rising from moving water with spaces unfolding within the shell.
Bronze Open Youth Venue, Norwich, Norfolk (Hudson Architects)
Jazzy conversion of a massive inner-city banking hall to become an inspired music and life-skills centre for teenagers. Alan Powers

Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life by Susie Harries
This is an outstandingly good biography: a sympathetic and rounded portrait of a contra-dictory character-the great German architectural historian who gave us the defining series
of guides to England’s buildings. Winner of the 2011 Wolfson
History Prize.
Silver Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer (Rachel Campbell-Johnston)
In her first book, The Times art critic captures exquisitely the many nuances of the visionary 19th-century artist’s life.
Bronze The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham (Selina Hastings)
Engrossing, forensic insight into the complex character of the prolific author by one of our best biographers. Mary Miers

Countryside campaign
The South Downs National Park

England’s ninth national park became fully operational on April 1, 2011. First officially proposed to the Prime Minister by the CPRE in 1929, it has the highest level of protection under the planning system.
Silver Funding for bee research
The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) celebrated a momentous
victory in 2009, after it marched on Downing Street and persuaded Defra to assemble a £10 million fund for research into bee health. Membership of the BBKA doubled to 20,000 that year.
Bronze The National Trust on planning reform
Fury at the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework last year sparked an eight-month campaign. This helped effect important revisions, protecting green-belt and greenfield land and encouraging councils to favour brownfield sites instead. Mark Hedges

Radio programme

A History of the World
in 100 Objects (Radio 4)

If you missed this fascinating series of 100 programmes by Neil MacGregor, fear not-they’re still available on the BBC’s website. From the earliest objects that define us as humans to innovations such as the credit card, each 15-minute bite is effortlessly illuminating.
Silver Our Mutual Friend (Radio 4)
Dickens’s final and, arguably, finest novel was brought to vivid life over
20 15-minute programmes. Mike Walker’s adaptation didn’t forsake clarity for atmosphere and made sense of the novel’s 900-plus pages.
Bronze Cabin Pressure (Radio 4)
Benedict Cumberbatch is clearly trying to be in as many categories
as humanly possible, but he and Roger Allam gave true pleasure as inept pilots in this supremely funny show. Catch up with the BBC CDs. Jane Watkins

New rose
Chandos Beauty, from Harkness

The outstanding British rose of this century. It has exceptionally beautiful flowers of creamy shell-pink with a hint of pale apricot, and magnificent, powerful fragrance. The flowers last well when cut, making it a good florist’s rose, and the plant has a superb constitution.
Silver Munstead Wood (David Austin)
It came out in 2008 and is certainly Austin’s best crimson rose to date, being richly coloured and with lovely scent -a fine tribute to the garden of that great gardener Gertrude Jekyll.
Bronze Tickled Pink (Fryer)
Fragrant and healthy, its USP is the way the petals seem to lie flat in ever-decreasing concentric circles; I know no other rose that does it quite the same way. Charles Quest-Ritson

The Atholl, Edinburgh

It only opened in May, but has already impressed. Four beau-tifully decorated suites overlook Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish Houses of Parliament. Albert Roux of Le Gavroche fame over-sees the culinary offerings, with bespoke menus and in-room dining accompanied by a choice of fine wines. Rooms start from £1,000 per suite, per night for bed and breakfast.
Silver Hotel Tresanton, St Mawes, Cornwall
The jewel in Olga Polizzi’s crown, with local art, fresh fish and sea views.
Bronze The Goring, Belgravia, London SW1
The only family owned and run five-star hotel in London, boasting more than a century of service. Rocketed into the limelight when the Middleton family stayed there for the Royal Wedding.
Rupert Uloth

Book (fiction)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Move over, More-there’s a new Thomas in town. Hilary Mantel’s re-casting of Cromwell (previously best known for looking a bit like an overstuffed sofa in his Holbein portrait) as a witty, worldly man for all seasons gripped the nation and has changed the way we think about the Tudors forever. Resisting the temptation to go all odds bodkins on her readers, Miss Mantel chose to stick to plain English and the present tense, creating an electrifying sense of proximity, which won the Booker. The past may be a foreign country, but Wolf Hall makes us wonder whether they did things so very differently there after all.
Silver The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt
This mammoth volume, which has proved to be A. S. Byatt’s biggest hit since 1990’s blockbusting Possession, is a forensically detailed re-imagining of the years bet-ween 1895 and the end of the First World War-Fabians, free love, fairies and all. As carefully woven as a William Morris tapestry, and every bit as lovely.
Bronze The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Love, loss, memory, history and the law of unintended consequences-all this and more in 160 pages. Not a word is out of place. Another deserving Booker winner. Emma Hughes

Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth

This hymn to a vanishing rural England of mysterious myths, louche legends and wild woodland freedom first appeared at the Royal Court in 2009 and obstinately refused to lie down. It followed the strange, irrepressible life of its hero, Rooster Byron: a Wiltshire Falstaff brilliantly played by Mark Rylance with a pigeon-chested strut and a cocksure charisma, but also a growing sense of his isolation in an England of characterless housing estates and creeping bureaucracy.
Silver One Man, Two Guvnors (Richard Bean)
A frantically funny play combined a classic source with a touch of Carry On.
Bronze Neighbourhood Watch (Alan Ayckbourn)
The playwright’s 75th offering and proof that he has lost none of his comic mastery or sharp social antennae. Michael Billington

First-day-cover stamp
The Crown Jewels (August 2011)

Celebrates the 350th anniversary of when many of them were made. These pieces were part of a set of regalia made for Charles II, most of that used by Charles I having been destroyed on the orders of Cromwell. The stamps focus on the details from some of the most important items: the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, St Edward’s Crown, Rod and Sceptre with Doves, Queen Mary’s Crown, The Sovereign’s Orb, the Jewelled Sword of Offering, the Coronation Spoon and the Imperial State Crown.
Silver ‘Action for Species’ series (2007-2010)
Delightful images drawing attention to threatened wildlife.
Bronze Britain Alone (May 2010)
Nostalgic photographs from the Second World War. Rupert Uloth

ook (non-fiction)
The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

European art history through the prism of a family memoir: the author inherits a collection of netsuke and, in his journeys to unravel their story, discovers surprising and moving
truths. Word-of-mouth recommendation turned this into a bestseller.
Silver The English Castle (John Goodall)
An award-winning work of scholarship that reassesses this popular subject with breadth and accessibility so that it will appeal to the layman as well as the academic.
Bronze Sissinghurst (Adam Nicolson)
Lyrical account of the landscape and Tudor buildings associated with this great medieval manor by the grandson of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville West, who re-created part of it as their home.
Mary Miers

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

The gallery’s reopening in November 2011 after a £17.5 million restoration and redisplay was one
of those electric moments when culture and politics fuse, proving that art galleries are about more than just art. What better place to understand Scotland’s debate about its future than this great collection of portraits of the people who made its past? The restoration has also put Robert Rowand Anderson’s masterpiece-one of Edinburgh’s most underrated buildings-firmly on the map.
Silver The Holburne Museum, Bath
Reopened last year, the museum is a lesson in how to extend a historic building in a sensitive location and redisplay a small but choice collection of fine and decorative arts with flair and imagination.
Bronze The Whitechapel Gallery, London E1
This home for cutting-edge art, restored and extended in 2009, demonstrates an impressive sense of its heritage, as embodied in both its building and its historic links with the culture of the East End. Michael Hall