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The Dunfield Sandglass is a historical honeycomb of various stories from the reign of Charles 1st to the present day.  From inquisitions to wedding feasts, to shrouded meetings of wartime goliaths, to the (possible) birth of the Baskerville hound!

We will take you through changing structures of the house and grounds through its transitional years and introduce you to the various owners and visitors along the way. History is everything, from bricks and mortar to blood and bone: footprints in the dust, handprints on the glass, voices in the air and stories in the stone.

Every house has a history and Dunfield is no exception – except for one – maybe we have a little more history than some!  Check back here with us when you see this post pop up on our social media as we explore through our own unique sandglass. We will take you on a stroll and back to see what we have found.

 

 

Monday, 22 February 2021 13:32

New Horizons - 1939 to present day

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Welcome back. We're down to the last few grains of history in the Dunfield Sandglass.

 From 1939 to 1945 the House was requisitioned by the War Office and the Bromages went to live in Dunfield Cottage at the end of the lane. British officers were garrisoned in the meadow where there was a firing range. Later American officers were housed at Dunfield and there is a rumour that they were possibly Black officers, as racial segregation was much in evidence. Towards the end of the war when D Day was being planned it was general knowledge, but never confirmed, that Winston Churchill came and stayed at Dunfield to attend high-level planning for D Day. General Patton was seen in the area and stayed at Huntington Manor and rumour has it that General Eisenhower attended the meeting. One anecdote is that a canteen of cutlery was bought to present to Churchill and was placed in Dunfield House safe. Upon retrieving it the safe door became immovable and the wall at the back of the House had to be broken down to get to it.

Dunfield was one of the places that would be used for returning injured servicemen of higher ranks. There was a Military Hospital in Kington for the normal foot soldiers. In 1941 James Vincent Bennett Raikes Bromage owned Dunfield House. On the 8th December 1941 - Dunfield House was given to Phyllis Bromage by her husband, James Vincent Bromage as a deed of gift.

  • 30th December 1946 - Mrs Phyllis Bromage, now divorced, sold Dunfield House to Col. Robert Jebb Few of Coneyherst-on-the-Hill, Ewhurst, Surrey for £4,500. According to Irene Watkins of Dunfield Farm, Col. Few was responsible for electricity being installed at Dunfield House and also at Dunfield Farm.
  • 20th July 1950 - R.J.Few took out a mortgage with Edith Ruth Phyllis Pateshall of Allensmore Court, Hereford in the sum of £3,000, which was paid in full by October 1952.
  • 1st July 1958 - R.J.Few as Landlord leased Dunfield to Mis Iris Emily Poole of 24 Bryngwyn Road, Newport, who became his tenant. Col. R.J.Few moved to Bircher Court, Titley.
  •  8th April 1960 - Miss Iris Emily Poole was declared bankrupt at Leominster County Court and Col.R.J.Few would take possession of the House again. The Pooles - mother, two sons and a daughter - had tried to run the house as a Country Guest Hotel but it had proved unfruitful. Miss Iris Poole married Peter Bigg, a farmer at Gladestry. Mrs Poole went to live with her older brother. Iris (the daughter) and Bobby, her younger brother, stayed on in the house for a little while longer.
  •  16th December 1963 - Col. Robert Jebb Few sold Dunfield House to Albert Edward Burns of Portland, Madley, Herefordshire for an amount of £7,500.

 The 1960's

  • 1960 - (Dates still to be established) Mrs Irene Watkins of Dunfield Farm gave the following information: About this time three people came to live at Dunfield House. They were Mrs Frodsham and Mr and Mrs Smith. Mrs Frodsham came from Manchester. Mr Smith was a Wool Grader and Book Dealer at Lyonshall. He stored the books in what is now the Chapel. Mrs Smith and Mrs Frodsham decided to turn Dunfield into a Guest House with the advertising logo 'Guest House with a difference'. Weekly terms for 5 guineas included all modern conveniences, hot and cold water in bedrooms, spring mattresses, electric fires, central heating, excellent cuisine, separate tables and farm produce. For your 5 guineas, you also had a garage for your car, golfing and fishing. Their commitment to customer service included 'your comfort and satisfaction - our first consideration'.
  • 24th September 1965 - Dunfield House was sold by Albert Edward Burns to William Henry Isaac, Arthur Mayne and John Franklin Schofield. The House became the property of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in time to be known as The Community of Christ. It was developed into a Conference Centre for the use of Church members and other organizations. William G. Coates and his wife Mary became the first Managers and moved in on Saturday October 9th. Community of Christ groups start their Dunfield story. Dudley and Walsall Youth Service - first community group.  
  • 1966 Recreation Hall purchased in sections and transported from Wiltshire by Doug Young's coal lorries. Harry Black directed the first Reunion.
  • 1967 The Recreation Hall completed. The first Overseas Youth Service Corps arrived.
  •  1969 Children's Holiday Camps started with children coming from Herefordshire.

 The 1970's

  • 1971 27th April, Bill & Mary, their son Christopher and daughter Sue lived in the House until a cottage was prepared for them. They had previously lived in what is now the office, dining room 2 and 3 and the pantry at different times from 1965-71.
  • 1975 Outdoor Swimming Pool is completed on the site of the cottage gardens.
  • Mews (Stables) upgrade - showers, toilets and 3 bedrooms.

The 1980's

  • 1980 2nd August, Dunfield House Dedication Service held.
  •  1982/33 Contract for major Stables conversion given to Ernist Deacon, a local firm from Kington.
  •  1985 Work on Stables completed. Recreation Hall granted Permanent Building Status             

 The 1990's

  • 1994 Indoor Swimming Pool opened. Fred Crane appointed Manager of Dunfield.
  • 1995 Bill and Mary Coates retire after 30 years service. Community of Christ retreats started.
  •  1997 First Adult Rally held at Dunfield.
  •  1998 Adventure Playground built.
  •  1999 Legal structure of the board revised. The Dunfield Charity and Dunfield House Limited commenced trading on 1st April.

The 2000's

 During this period of time; the glass window is created in the chapel, the first Eurotribe is held, Fred and Helen Crane move back to Leicester, while Barbera Woodhouse manages Dunfield on an interim period, and then in 2005,  Sue and Paul Norton are appointed the new Managers of Dunfield.

Final development of the Stables building and installation of a state of the art Biomass Boiler are just a couple of the projects, amongst many, Sue and Paul have undertaken whilst managing Dunfield. Their dedication and hard work over the years has seen Dunfield thrive. Adults and children alike are experiencing the joy of coming to Dunfield, year after year.

Sue and Paul have now gracefully retired and once again Dunfield is passed-on to new hands. Those  competent hands belong to Alison and Daniel (with their two young boys, Owen and Adam) who are the new managers of Dunfield as of 2021.

I hope you've enjoyed our distilled embrace of Dunfield's diverse history and survival, it's undeniable rise to present day glory and it's passionate declaration of 'how good the world can be'  that is imprinted in everything it does.

Thank you for your company. The last grain of sand has fallen. It's 2021 and time to turn the Sandglass over, let the grains fall again, head for the future... and start a new history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 30 December 2020 15:33

Unquiet Slumbers.....part one 1900 - 1933

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UNQUIET SLUMBERS

PART ONE - 1900 to 1933

Welcome back, travellers. The glass is fatter.

We have now reached the year 1900, and the beginning of a century that encapsulates the excellence and brutality of mankind. Throughout this period, Dunfield re-establishes herself with renovation, innovation, and even a dose of wartime intrigue. But most of all, after an unsettling period in the early part of the century, Dunfield House will finally discover her true calling. Let's discover more!

In the year 1900, a Mr Godfrey Biggs became tenant of Dunfield up until 1909, when Major. Charles E.E. Halstead JP and his two daughters, Evelyn S. and Mary become the new tenants. In 1913, Kelly's Dictionary lists Henry Arthur Hugh Miles as a principal landowner and in 1914 he becomes the owner of Dunfield with the Major and his daughters remaining as tenants.  However, on the 28th of September 1922, the Major and his family suddenly up and leave Dunfield. Before his hasty departure, an auction is held at the house where he sells off, amongst other things, his surplus furniture, hunting gear, luggage carts, outdoor equipment, garden effects and various other household items.

So, as we know, up to now the house has thrived with a mixture of various tenants. However, with the Major gone, a grim interruption in Dunfield's calendar awaits. Inexplicably, after the departure of the fleeing Major... the house falls silent. A rare cessation occurs in her existence; no resident claims Dunfield House for seven years! A cloak of solitude envelopes her and one can barely imagine what becomes of a charismatic house like Dunfield without the presence of human voices within and the grounds left to thrive wild.

This is not a pleasant tranquillity. The heart of the house is in restless slumber. Her doors closed on empty rooms and a numbed silence in the air.

For seven, long, years, she remains undisturbed. Hot suns and bladed frosts begin to rupture her frame. For now, she is paused in time. A defiant lull. She is not resting or sleeping... she is waiting. And in 1929... her wait ends.

On the 10th October 1929, Dunfield House is purchased by Phyllis Bromage, wife of James Vincent Bennett Raikes Bromage of Thorpe Hall, Barnard Castle, Yorkshire... for the grand sum of £3,450!

The property consisted of "A Mansion House called Dunfield, with gardens, stables, outbuildings, grounds, two lodges and pieces of land thereunto adjoining or belonging site in the Township of Lower Harpton and Parish of Old Radnor in the County of Hereford". There is a possibility that James Vincent Bromage may have retired from the Indian Civil Service.

On the 29th November 1929, a mortgage in the amount of £3,500 is taken out by Phyllis Bromage.

On the 25th September 1933, supplies of water from Hollywell and Bradnor are disconnected to Dunfield House by Phyllis Bromage. However, special measures were taken to ensure that sufficient water flowed into the pool areas to maintain the fish and allow the Bromage boys to spend their leisurely, Summer afternoons punting on the lake.

Dunfield House starts to take shape again... but ominous clouds lie ahead as the rise of war begins.

Join us next time, when World War II intrigue unfolds at Dunfield House!

 

Wednesday, 02 September 2020 14:35

A Handsome Gothic Residence

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Welcome back, travellers. It is the century of change.

It is the age of the Victorian, Dunfield is advertised as a Handsome Gothic Residence!

The country is radically changing- structurally, politically, scientifically, and spiritually. There is also a dark side to this time with the prominence of poverty and starvation, the stench of the slums and the inhumanity of workhouses. But we also see the birth of great technology and communication and for now, our Empire rules under the steely reign of Queen Victoria, Empress of India. It is a wonderous age of invention and imagination with everything from the telephone to the typewriter springing up with great writers such as Elizabeth Browning, Oscar Wilde, the Bronte sisters and of course…..Dickens, enchant and entertain with their brilliance. Dunfield amid her estate is also ready to change!

In 1804, Rev. D. J. Bull, a member of the Bull family who lived at Dunfield dies. In 1825, Marianne Miles, who never married, lives with her mother at Dunfield. Around this time, the remains of the 17th-century timber-framed building form the nucleus of the present-day house. In the early days, the house could be rented for a ‘knight’s fee’ – a unit of measure of land deemed sufficient to support a knight for 112 old pennies a year. Today that is roughly equivalent of 47 pence! Dunfield- always a bargain!   

Then, fifteen years after the battle of Waterloo, Dunfield is purchased (around 1830) by Mr Henry Miles. The house at this time was called “Downfield”. But now, Henry Miles goes to work! He totally enlarges and improves the existing building. The internal walls are constructed of stone, wattle and daub and latterly lathe and plaster, with the roof being covered in new slates. Dunfield House is finally getting the makeover she deserves. It seems Henry Miles owned a benevolent heart- on one occasion at least. It is recounted that while he was riding home on January 1st, he encountered a large group of poor and aged travellers and generously supplied them with a piece of beef, a loaf of bread and a quantity of prime soup. It seems the good nature of the house as it is today was rooted in kindness even then.

The daughter of Henry Miles, Georgina, was married at Dunfield in a lavish ceremony and weddings continued to be part of Dunfield from then on. In 1865 Henry Miles died aged 71, amassing an estate of more than 1200 acres, worth around 13.5 million in today's money. Monkey puzzle trees lined the drive up to the house, there were lawns, shrubberies, orchards, parkland with fishponds, streams, and waterfalls. Grapes, exotic fruits and flowers grew in the greenhouses and in 1898 the house was available to rent with 14 acres of shooting rights, 15 acres of grounds, 15 family and servant rooms, 3 reception rooms, a study and a library, 16 store stables and a schoolroom! Dunfield was advertised as a ‘handsome and commodious gothic residence commanding magnificent over hill and woodland’. There was a Gatekeepers Lodge with the house and the Dunfield cottage was built at the end of the lane, was used as the gardener’s cottage. Thereafter, Mrs, Ann E. Miles, Lady of the Manor, and Marianne, her daughter were in residence along with two servants, Anne Phillips, and Eliza Turner. On the 22nd July 1876 Ann Eliza Miles died aged 81 years. After her mother’s death, Marianne moved away from the area.

The 8th April 1881- census for Downfield showed it was unoccupied. The Gatekeepers Lodge, however, remained occupied by John Tippens and his family. By 1890 Dunfield was the property of Re. H. Miles, who then leased it to Mrs Evans.  1891- census- Fredrick Elvens (aged 23) a ‘Butler’ and Elizabeth Davies (aged 43) a ‘Housemaid’ were in residence. The Gatekeeper Lodge also had in residence Thomas Miles (age 35) a ‘Coachman’ and his wife Sarah (age 32).  In 1895, Dunfield House is let unfurnished by Rev. H. Miles, who wished to live closer to London and his furniture business in Bond Street, London and tenant, Edward James Evans moves in.

 As we gradually move forward to the 20th century, Dunfield House and all that surrounds her story and life begin's to take on a new, more expedient shape and fresh tenants will carry her development forward. 

 

 Do not forget to stop by again faithful traveller. After all…..we’ve only just begun.

Monday, 20 July 2020 14:30

WELCOME TRAVELLERS!

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Time marches on. We have now reached the 1700's.

The 1700's are quite vague concerning the history of Dunfield. We do know that in 1730, a Mr Price purchased Dunfield House from the Bull family, but very little is known about this gentleman and his family... or even if he had a family. These were not exactly halcyon days, but they were relatively quieter times;  that insidious destroyer- the plague, was no longer prevalent in Britain, and ironically the turmoil of war had actually strengthened the British state at home. For the first half of the 18th century, the country was actually free of war on the continent and we were a relatively solvent land with agriculture the main bedrock of the economy and trade increasing at a healthy rate.

However, the wealth of the country was unequally distributed and the writer Daniel Defoe illuminated this very well in his 7 different categories of prosperity.

  1  The great who live profusely.

  2  The rich who live plentifully.

  3  The middle sort who live well

  4  The working trades who labour hard but feel no want

  5  The country people, farmers etc, who fare indifferently

  6  The poor who fare hard

  7  The miserable that really pinch and suffer want

Around these times in Herefordshire not everybody had a chicken in every pot, and we do not know which category Mr Price of Dunfield came under in Defoe's logic (most likely 2 or 3 )... but Dunfield survived. Whoever our ambiguous tenant was, he kept the continuity of the house and estate functional and steadfast. God bless you sir!

By 1756, war had once again broken out with France; disputes between old enemies are never far away. However, the small market town of Kington, and of course Dunfield, were immune from these great political squabbles. The crops were gathered, apples turned to cider, cattle were bred, fed and slaughtered. The rural life that surrounded Dunfield carried on regardless.

Carried on towards the age of the victorian... and the age of change.

 

Monday, 29 June 2020 13:45

SANCTUM

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SANCTUM

 

Welcome back, curious friends – there is a little more sand in the glass. As we move into the 17th century, the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st comes to an end with her death in 1603. As for Dunfield – or Downfield as it is known at this particular time in history – new tenants arrive as the Bull family take up occupancy.

Records are vague around this time and we know very few details about the family. However, what we do know is that George Bull went on to become the Bishop of St David’s and would live in Brecon at the Bishop’s Palace. Also, the Rev. D.J. Bull, a member of the same family, became the rector of Presteigne. The Bull family- and Dunfield- survived one of the most turbulent and wretched passengers of history ever recorded. As Queen Elizabeth 1st dies, a sinister and malicious beast appears and creeps over the land, it has no pity and swathes a path across England – it is the plague! 

As if the reap of the plague is not enough, in 1642, the English Civil War breaks out. The conflict between Charles 1st and parliament over Irish insurrection sees nine, long, blood-soaked years of conflict between Roundheads and Cavaliers. England is no longer such a green and pleasant land. With ravenous disease and the tumult of war dominating this era, Dunfield tucked under the apron of Bradnor Hill, remains relatively unscathed and immune from the brutality and confusion that slowly suffocates the country. Dunfield, in her uncorrupted sanctuary, lets the pale horse of destruction ride by.

 

Monday, 08 June 2020 10:43

The Power of the Crown

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It is forty-nine years after the Reformation of the Church of England under the reign of Henry VIII. To be precise it is 1586 and political and religious storm clouds loom heavy over the country.

It is now the Reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 and there are political tensions surrounding the Church of England and Catholicism.  Queen Mary tried in vain to convert England to Catholicism, which is now considered a threat to the Monarchy. An inquisition takes place into the ownership of Dunfield House and due to his Christian belief, the current owner of the house, William Shelly, is accused of committing treason. A spurious charge but one Shelly is helpless to oppose, the inquisitions are brutal mockeries and there is no council.

A fresh dawn rises over the grounds of Dunfield and with the appointment of a new tenant. The law has spoken: Dunfield becomes the property of the government and Queen Elizabeth 1st.

William Shelly was stripped of ownership until his death and it was only after his demise that justice was restored and Jane Lingen, Shelly’s wife, became the rightful owner of the house and the course of Dunfield’s history sets off on a new path.

Friday, 14 June 2019 16:15

Welcome to Lisa, Trudie, Lesley & Phil

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Hey there Humans,

Fudge here. Sorry, I’ve not been blogging for a while, but a feline’s work is never done it seems!

I’ve had groups coming to stay and then going home again, groups coming to stay and going home again, groups…. Well, you get the picture.

Add to that not one but four new members of staff have arrived since I was last blogging – the photo shows me reviewing the new Assistant Manager, Lisa. She’s not bad, gives me Dreamies, (I’ve discovered I just LOVE Dreamies) and fuss and as you know if you been here - I do like everyone fussing over me.

Then there’s the lovely Trudi who has joined the cleaning/laundry team. Always has a smile and lifts everybody’s day. Lesley who makes yummy food in the kitchen and Phil who is great, he can do anything!

Sue, Paul and Mike are still here working hard – not as hard as me obviously but yes, still keeping Dunfield as lovely as it always is.

Over the next few months, I will be showing some highlights of how purr-fect it is to stay here at Dunfield, so you can see how paw-some this place is.

If you’ve been here before then you will REMEMBER just how beautiful Dunfield is and because I am in charge, I look forward to seeing you and if it is to be your first visit, keep an eye out for me  - just don’t forget the Dreamies!

So, bye for now and soft paws,

Fudge

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 16:51

Hosting events at Dunfield House

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Finding a venue able to fulfil the needs for your event is only the beginning of the long winding journey, but don’t be fazed; nothing else can beat the feeling of success, putting your feet up after the event has finished, no matter how smoothly it may or may not have gone – all the challenges on the way will be worth it!

 

Dunfield House is the home to a bounty of events from Yoga retreats to school residentials. If you’re looking to expand, we could offer you the facilities to take your event to the next level. If you’re a first timer we have the expertise to advise, consult and encourage your event to flourish and become the talking point for months after.

 

Perhaps you have a well-established event that’s looking for a new venue; Dunfield House would be able to help you out with our Year-on-Year booking*, meaning if you book with us, you are offered the same dates (or very close to those dates – especially around bank holidays) the following year. This service takes a whole lot of stress out of securing a venue for your next occasion!

 

Having accommodation and catering services available here is a weight off most shoulders when juggling an event plan. It can also allow yourself to broaden your audience; people may be willing to travel if they have a place to stay locally, and you can’t be more local than on the premises! Filling your guests time wouldn’t be a worry either, with great local walks, a swimming pool, and a huge handful of activity space to keep them keen in-between your structured sessions.

 

If you are looking for a venue for the day, Dunfield House shouldn’t be ruled out! Between November to March we can offer one-day events to include catering if you wish. We have areas ideal for talks, workshops and activities; please don’t hesitate to get in contact to find out more about ‘day event’ opportunities.

 

To find out more about what we have to offer, expanding an event, or have any questions about Dunfield House, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

*Year-on-Year booking – To find out more information and terms for our ‘Year-on-Year’ booking opportunity feel free to get in touch. 

We have had two great volunteers here this Summer, Nick and Korinne! When having the chance to do so, Korinne has been sharing her story through her blog. It's worth keeping an eye on this for new stories, and definitely worth a read! - https://morethanatouristblog.wordpress.com/ 

Below is her comprehensive ranking of Dunfield puddings! I had to share it on here because I think it's great!! however I would like to add, Dunfield's cookies should definitely reached top #3!!! 


 

If you have ever spent time at Dunfield House, you know that mealtime is an integral part of every day. Everyone has their favourite meals, but more important are the pudding. (And by pudding I mean dessert). When I first got to Dunfield, I was enthralled by the various sweet treats at the end of each meal and since then I have developed an opinion about the best of the best puddings. For your benefit and enjoyment I have decided to share my rankings with you.

#10 – Arctic Roll

While these ice cream treats are a favourite of kids that come to visit Dunfield, there’s just something about the cake roll part of it that I personally don’t love. On a hot day (lol) they would probably be nice!

#9 – Chocolate Chip Cookies

Don’t get me wrong, chocolate chip cookies are one of my favourite treats, but with all the other amazing options, it gets stuck in the #9 spot!

#8 – Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sauce

I know, I know, there might be a riot that this pudding is so far down my list. But, what can I say? *Shrugs Shoulders*

#7 – Jam Sponge and Custard

Jam sponge and custard is a pudding that has really grown on me since I have been at Dunfield House. Coming from the land of corn syrup (America), jam sponge and custard seemed super bland. However, my taste buds have adapted and now this British delicacy is climbing the ranks of my favourites.

#6 – Apple Crumble (and custard)

I am all for anything with crumble and custard being mixed – that’s all I have to say. The apple part is just a bonus.

#5 – Chocolate Brownie and Ice Cream

The Dunfield House brownies are some of the best in the world and you can quote me on that. That’s all there is to be said.

#4 – Lemon Cheesecake

I have only had the lemon cheesecake a few times, but it earned the #4 spot fairly quickly. There’s nothing like the crisp flavour of lemon in the summer months.

#3 – Banoffee Pie

Anyone that has had the sweet toffee and banana pudding cannot dispute the bronze medal being awarded to Banoffee Pie. (Unless they think it should be higher on the list.)

#2 – Flapjacks

I anticipate a lot of push back on the decision to award flapjacks the #2 spot. For many, they aren’t necessarily considered pudding. But, when the oaty, sweet goodness of the flapjack is put in front of me, I just can’t resist.

AAANNNNNNDDDDD

#1 – Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding is amazing in many ways, but it’s truly the toffee sauce that is poured on top that puts this dessert way out of the league of any of the others. Honestly, STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING WILL ALWAYS BE THE BEST DUNFIELD PUDDING AND I REFUSE TO HEAR ANY ARGUMENTS ABOUT IT.

Thank you for taking your time to read this ranking of my favourite Dunfield Puddings. Stick around to soon read about my favourite U.K. chocolate and also more important things like talking about Summer Camp and Primitive Camp!

Please feel free to leave comments and discuss with me my rankings unless you’re going to suggest that sticky toffee pudding shouldn’t be #1.

 

 

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