New High Sheriff in town

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Isabelle, Countess of Erroll, has been installed as the new High Sheriff of Bedfordshire.

The Countess was officially appointed to the Office at a ceremony held at St Mary’s Church, Everton, on March 29 attended by around 150 dignitaries, family and friends, including Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Colonel Colin Mason and Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Rev Richard Atkinson.

Bedfordshire has been home to the Astell family since Isabelle’s ancestor, Roger Astell, arrived here from Northamptonshire around 1620.

The family lived firstly at Everton House which was demolished in 1856, so they bought Woodbury Hall the following year from Sir William Booth of the gin dynasty.

Isabelle and husband Merlin, the 24th Earl of Erroll, now live at Woodbury where they brought up their two sons and two daughters.

Isabelle follows a tradition of high sheriffs within her family: William Astell of Everton held the role in 1780, followed by several members of the Thornton family: Robert, Godfrey, Stephen and Harry, and the Harveys of Ickwell Bury. In 1777 Robert Thornton inherited Moggerhanger, and sold the estate to his brother Godfrey.

More than two centuries later, in 1998 his descendant Isabelle was approached to become a founder trustee of the Moggerhanger House Preservation Trust and was appointed chair in 2009.

She played a major role in raising £7.5million for the restoration of the house designed by eminent architect John Soane and personally wrote many of the grant applications.

Isabelle and Merlin’s children attended schools in Everton and Bedford and in 2001 their daughter Amelia, who has Down’s syndrome, moved to Grange School in Kempston where Isabelle was asked to become a parent-governor and is now chair of the board of governors.

During her shrieval year Isabelle would like to focus on promoting family life and on inspiring children to want an education.