Fennel's Priory Timeline

Fennel's Priory 21st Anniversary

Fennel's Priory was established in 1996 when Bernard Venables bestowed the name to Fennel. The name has featured on Fennel's letterheads ever since.

2017 marked our 21st Anniversary, which we celebrated by publishing Fennel's Journal in book formats, and through many Friends events.

The Priory has come of age. But let's celebrate its humble beginnings:


Origins

Fennel Hudson 1980

1974: Nigel Hudson is born in Worcestershire, England, into an angling and gardening family. Is the son of a school master and a lay preacher.

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.

1982: Starts fly-fishing. Is taught to tie his first fly (a Baby Doll).

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


Foundations

Fennel Hudson 1989

1987: Writes his first book – 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 a countryside book for his friends and compiles a book of his nature poetry.


Apprenticeship

Fennel Hudson 1992

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

1991: Publishes the first of nine fishing booklets that are shared through the nineties.

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.


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. Launches the national 'Breathe with Ease, Plant Some Trees' campaign for the Millennium. Begins studying marketing at night school.


Devastation

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.


Recovery

Fennel Hudson 2007

2004: Starts dating Mrs H-to-be, readopts his Fennel identity, begins redefining Fennel's Priory, and sets out a ten-year plan to rebuild his life. Begins working for an agro-environmental company.

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.


Endurance

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, with the full story published later as Wild Carp.


Resurface

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. Birth of 'Little Lady' Hudson.

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

2013: Fennel's Countryside Diary is serialised by 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 buying a cottage in the Cotswolds. 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 and Fennel's Journal by quitting corporate life and moving to North Wales. Hosts a Friends' dinner at the Flyfishers' Club to celebrate. 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.


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.