Fennel's Priory Timeline

Fennel's Priory 25th Anniversary

Although Fennel has been writing and publishing since 1987, Fennel's Priory was established in 1996 when famous angler, artist and author Bernard Venables gave the name to Fennel. It has been his passion and mission ever since.

November 2021 marked our 25th Anniversary, so we decided to celebrate our story to date:


Fennel Hudson 1976

1974: Nigel Hudson is born in Worcestershire, England. Is the son of a school master.

1979: Moves with his family to a smallholding in South Staffordshire. Lives a partially self-sufficient life.

1980: Catches his first fish: a brown trout from a Welsh reservoir. Begins lifelong love of angling in wild places.

1985: Begins a gardening job at a large country house. He will work in horticulture for the next seventeen years.


Fennel Hudson 1987

1987: Writes his first book, Castle Quest, a fantasy tale about a quest into a seemingly abandoned castle. Stores his writing in a burgundy box-file given to him by his English teacher. This is why the Priory branding is burgundy, and why Fennel wears a burgundy waistcoat.

1988: First forays into publishing when appointed Editor of his school newspaper.

1989: Introduced to the writing of BB and Chris Yates. Begins a quest for the ultimate wild carp lake. Writes the countryside book Child of Nature, and compiles A Simple Utopia, a book of his nature poetry.


Fennel Hudson 1993

1990: Studies English and Art at college. Develops his love of language, practises his pen and ink illustration technique.

1992: Reads BB's Letters from Compton Deverell. This influences his writing style more than any other book. Writes Along the Green Lanes as a result.

1993: Attends Pershore College of Horticulture. Begins correspondence with angling writer Chris Yates.

Becoming Fennel

Fennel Hudson 1994

1994: Fishes the legendary Redmire Pool for the first time, catching his first-ever twenty-pound carp – on his first cast!

1995: Joins the famous Jade Lake fishing syndicate in Wiltshire. Cycles 60 miles to fish there on 16 June, the madness of which grants him an invitation to join Chris Yates' Golden Scale Club. Appointed 'GSC Stationer'. Is given the name 'Fennel' by Shaun Linsley following an unfortunate accident with a garden herb and a bucket of fishing bait. Watch the video.

Birth of Fennel's Priory

Fennel Hudson 19971996: Bestowed the name 'Fennel's Priory' by author and artist Bernard Venables. He uses the name on his letterheads, writing up to a dozen letters per day to his friends. His extended monthly letter becomes known as 'Fennel's Journal'. Read the blog.

1997: Working as a gardener during the day and as an artist by night, producing bespoke stationery for fieldsports enthusiasts.

Growing Up

Fennel 1999

1998: Fennel is loving life but is declared financially insolvent by his bank manager. Responds by getting a job in a garden centre and going back to college. Declines an offer to write a regular column in Waterlog, the traditional anglers' magazine. Instead writes over 100 articles in secret, storing them for future use.

2000: Working as marketing manager of a plant nursery at Worcester. Pens the national 'Breathe with Ease, Plant Some Trees' campaign for the Millennium.


Fennel Hudson 2003

2001: Death of Bernard Venables hits him hard. Abandons his Fennel identity, shaves off his hair, forgets his values and lives for the moment. Puts on three stone due to alcohol abuse.

2002: Ceases working in horticulture. Becomes a sales & marketing consultant. Leads an indulgent and reckless life.

2003: Loses everything, has a breakdown. Crippled by debt and depression, he retreats "to a place of safety, found in the darkness behind my eyelids". It takes him six months to function again and more than a decade to recover.


Fennel Hudson 2007

2004: Starts dating Mrs H-to-be, readopts his Fennel identity, begins redefining Fennel's Priory, sets out a ten-year plan to rebuild his life.

2005: Builds his confidence by writing a weekly 'Nature Within' blog.

2006: Resumes his monthly 'Fennel's Journal' handwritten letter, sharing it with twenty Friends of the Priory.

2007: Seeking a quiet place to heal and write, he spends nine months living beside a lake in Worcestershire. Marries Mrs H-to-be.


Fennel Hudson 2009

2008: Working full-time as a sales & marketing copywriter. Living a starkly contrasting life – of quiet rural times at home and international assignments at work. Balances work pressures by editing ten years of letters and private writing into material for Fennel's Journal

2009: Completes a twenty-year quest to find a rare and ancient strain of wild carp. His articles on the story are published in Classic Angling magazine, the full story is published later as Wild Carp.


Fennel Hudson 2012

2010: Lawrence Breakspear encourages Fennel to share the 'Stop – Unplug – Escape – Enjoy' message with a wider audience.

2011: Launches fennelspriory.com, Fennel's Priory on Facebook and Twitter. Forms Fennel's Priory Limited as an independent publishing company.

2012: Publishes Fennel's Journal as a limited edition magazine.

2013: Fennel's Countryside Diary is serialised by fieldsports company William Powell, Fennel's Journal eBooks are published. Organises and features in the Angling Times 60th Anniversary celebration at Welbeck Lake. Hosts first Friends' weekend.

Public Gaze

Fennel Hudson 2014

2014: Fennel completes his ten year plan by paying off the last of his 2003 debt and returning to rural life. Marks the 80th Anniversary of Redmire Pool with a centre-spread feature in Angling Times. Celebrates his 40th Birthday with a Friends weekend at the Arundell Arms in Devon. Starts writing a regular article for the Flyfishers' Journal.

2015: Completes a two-year project to help the BBC create 'The Big Fish – World's Wildest Waters'. Does a 33-week public speaking tour of Europe, Asia Pacific and America.

The Anniversary Years

Fennel Hudson 20172016: Celebrates 20 years of Fennel's Priory by hosting a Friends' dinner at the Flyfishers' Club. Launches new Fennel's Priory website and Fennel on Friday weekly blog. Begins sharing videos on YouTube.

2017: Launches The Contented Countryman podcast and begins publishing Fennel's Journal in book formats.

2018: Launches Fennel's Gazette 'miniature newspaper' in celebration of 30 years in publishing, and Fennel's Priory on Instagram and Pinterest.


Fennel Hudson author 20192019: Appointed as Editor of The Grayling Society's publications, including the flagship Grayling magazine. Serves on the General Committee that governs the Flyfishers' Club of London.

2020: Becomes Secretary of The Angling Writers' Association and Chair of Trustees for new conservation charity The Wild Carp Trust.

2023: Awarded a doctorate for his research into workplace pressure: 'the other side of life', to which Fennel's Priory is the welcome release.


If you like the work of lifestyle and countryside author Fennel Hudson, then please subscribe to Fennel on Friday. You'll receive a blog, video or podcast sent direct to your email inbox in time for the weekend.