Nicholas Hardcastle died at his home in Porthleven, Cornwall, on Wednesday, April 15th. The cause was complications from the COVID-19 virus.
Nick was born June 6th, 1952 to Constance (Connie) and William Hardcastle in Washington, D.C. Soon thereafter, the family returned to England when William became editor of The Daily Mail, and they settled in Garden Farmhouse, Carshalton, Surrey. It was here in the countryside not far from London, that Nick spent his first six years. In 1958, Connie purchased a home in Porthleven, where the family would holiday, and by 1960, Connie and her four children had moved there permanently.
It was in Porthleven, and especially at nearby Rinsey Cove that Nicholas fell in love with the sea. It was also here that his family expanded, and as Connie and Laurie (Nick’s stepfather) had baby Sophie in 1961, the headcount of children grew to seven. The family bought a large townhouse in Cathedral City of Truro to accommodate the now siblings John (b. 1944), Sally (b.1945), Susan (b.1945), Susie (b.1946), Nicholas (b. 1952), Connie “Little Con” (b.1956), and Sophie.
Nick attended Truro Cathedral School until the age of 16. He then attended Camborne Tech College to study for A Levels, but left both college and home halfway through, and at 17, was on his own. It was at this time that Nick formed a deep attachment to farming. While living in a cottage at Trencrom with friends, he worked planting cauliflower (called broccoli in Cornwall) and barley. It was also here that Nick formed some of his most cherished friendships, and began to play guitar.
In 1973 he and his friend Bill joined Nick’s older sister Susie in New York City, where an incredible number of adventures took place in a very short time, including making the handcarts for the market scene in “Godfather II.” Bill returned to Cornwall in 1974, and Nick relocated to Berkshire County Massachusetts to pursue his dream of being a sheep farmer.
In Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Nick got a job working for Shaggy Dog Studios, helping to sift through hundreds of Jimi Hendrix tapes. Here he met and married his first wife Pamela Read (a musician/singer who also worked at Shaggy Dog). They had two sons together, Asa, born September 1975 and Evan, born August 1977. Nick was the caretaker at the Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, New York, until 1977, and then caretaker on an estate in Southfield, Massachusetts from 1977 until 1984. It was during his time as a caretaker and father of two sons, that he began raising sheep both at home, and at Flying Cloud. Then in 1979, he joined Bradford Wagstaff to revive Gedney Farm as a fully functioning dairy farm in the center of New Marlborough. The operation ran for six years, before Gedney was eventually converted into an event location.
In 1985, Nick began working at the dairy farm Crystal Hill Farm in Mill River, Massachusetts. Nick married Silvia Eggenberger in 1986 and they took over management of the farm from Silvia’s parents, Henry and Martha. Nick and Silvia’s first daughter, Theresa, was born in March of 1988. In November of 1989, their second daughter, Celeste, was born. They continued raising their children and farming, eventually converting the farm to grass fed, and by 1992, Crystal Hill Farm was the last dairy in New Marlborough. Milk prices continued to drop, and by the mid 90s, they were forced to sell the cows, the tractors, and wind down what was a lifelong dream for Nicholas. Of course, this setback only altered his dream and he and Silvia decided that he would take a year to write. While Nick’s talent is easily experienced through reading his poetry, it turned out to pay less even than farming.
From 1996 through 2006, Nick was the sommelier and gardener at Aubergine in Hillsdale, N.Y. Nicholas’ herb, vegetable and flower gardens were notable for their bounty and beauty. The gardens that he created and tended for Aubergine were often a source for Chef David Lawson’s plates, and the envy of anyone who grew tomatoes.
When Aubergine closed its doors, Nick worked as a bartender for Race Brook Lodge, a handyman in Hudson, N.Y., and Great Barrington, and then eventually became the lead pasteurizer for Ronnybrook farm in Ancramdale, N.Y., before semi-retirement in Hudson.
In 2018, Nick moved back to his hometown Porthleven, in Cornwall. There he was able to spend time with his sister, Susan, and her extended family. He quickly became a reliable part of the community, making many friends and plans. Never truly retired, he gardened for his local pub, The Ship Inn, and built his first sailboat, the Constance May, named for his sister Connie. He completed the Constance May and took his grandsons on its maiden voyage in the summer of 2019.
He was predeceased by his sisters Susie, Sally, and Connie and his brother John. Nicholas leaves behind his four children, Asa (Tracey), Evan (Sarah), Theresa (Tony), and Celeste (Mike). His grandsons, Winter and Nicholas. His sisters, Susan Tinley and Sophie Palmer (Dave). His nieces and nephews, Alice, Cain, Harley, Jake, Jessie, Joe, Luke, Nicholas, Paul, Rosie, Sadie, and Seth. He also leaves behind him an incredible number of friends from Cornwall UK, Berkshire County Massachusetts, and Hudson New York. Nick touched everyone he met with his wit, humor, kindness, and love. He was also a dreamer, who never stopped thinking about his next endeavor.
Nicholas Christopher Hardcastle, June 6, 1952 – April 15, 2020.