“The name’s Bond, Basildon Bond. I’ve got letters after my name,” was the quip Russ Abbot used to introduce his 007-parodying character on TV in the 1980s. But the real reason for this brand’s choice of name involves opposite ends of the Chilterns.
The story begins, indirectly, with the creation of John Dickinson Stationery in Apsley, near Hemel Hempstead, in 1804. The firm was to enjoy over 200 years in business before its acquisition in 2005. Along the way it bought Millington and Sons, a London firm. In the summer of 1911, Millington’s had been considering the introduction of a new rag writing paper, and some of the directors of the company were staying at Basildon Park. One of the matters arising was a name for this new paper brand. The directors took the name from the house, liking the alliterative effect. The Basildon Bond brand survives to this day.
The house from which the brand got its name also embodies classic style as a Palladian villa with Adam-style interiors, built between 1776 and 1783 on the fortune which Sir Francis Sykes had amassed working for the East India Company in Bengal. Its current healthy condition is largely due to Lord and Lady Iliffe who restored it, furnished it with appropriate Old Masters paintings and gave the house and park to the National Trust in 1978. The Bath stone within the portico of the principal entrance has kept the warmth of its colour. The most surprising element inside is probably the Sutherland Room, which contains studies by artist Graham Sutherland for the tapestry for Coventry Cathedral as part of its post-war restoration; Sutherland was a friend of Lord Iliffe, a newspaper proprietor whose empire included the Coventry Evening Telegraph. The tearoom in the old Servants’ Hall displays murals evoking Angkor Wat and other Eastern scenes, as a reminder of Sir Francis Sykes’ career and a trip by Lord and Lady Iliffe around the world.