‘Chamber of secrets’ brings Cliveden’s ghosts to life

Pic, A historic chamber will open to visitors at the National Trust's Cliveden following conservation work, NT Images-John MillarAs the glamorous Cliveden Estate in Buckinghamshire celebrates its 350th anniversary, an historic chamber located below the South Terrace is opening for the first time in 30 years, inviting visitors to help the National Trust solve the mystery of its past.

From the notorious 2nd Duke of Buckingham who built the first house for his mistress before fatally wounding her husband, to the focus of the Profumo affair in the 1960s, Cliveden has long been a place of scandal and intrigue.

Continue reading

Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill – Queen’s Speech

Reacting to the announcement of Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill in the Queen’s Speech today Richard Hebditch, External Affairs Director at the National Trust said:

“It sounds like there could be some positive measures around neighbourhood planning in the new Bill, but overall we’re concerned that further reforms could create more confusion and uncertainty about what the rules are, and not solve the real problems with housing delivery.

“We’ll look carefully at proposals to restrict the use of planning conditions. Concerns about wildlife, archaeology, landscape and impact on communities will always have to be considered – that is what we have a planning system for. The best place to do this is as part of a planning application, rather than through using conditions. Government should be clear that if developers cannot address concerns about impacts on nature, heritage and green spaces, councils will be able to refuse applications.

“We’re worried that planning is becoming a service for developers rather than a balanced, independent process. There is a danger that that too often, planning permission can be pushed through – even where it goes against a council’s local plan. Even our finest landscapes and important green space like National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Green Belts are under pressure.”

Could you be our farming hero? National Trust offers £1m coastal farm for just a pound a year

THE keys to a £1m farm and the future of a precious landscape could be in your hands for just a pound a year, as long as you’ve a passion for nature, people, and a lot of sheep.

Last year the National Trust stepped in to protect the rare and fragile landscape of the Great Orme in Llandudno, North Wales. The conservation charity is now offering the lease on that land for just a pound to ensure it can recover, thrive and give a potential shepherding star a helping hand to start out in farming.

This unique £1 tenancy follows on from the announcement of the conservation charity’s new ten year vision, aimed at reversing the alarming decline in wildlife – 60 per cent in the past 50 years – and finding long term solutions to help nurse the countryside back to health and deliver for nature.

In buying Parc Farm at the Orme’s summit and the associated grazing rights over the majority of the headland, the National Trust has taken on the means to ensure the survival of its internationally rare habitats and species; some of which exist nowhere else on earth.

Continue reading

Red squirrel study launched to assess scale of disease

Wildlife experts have launched a project to better understand how British red squirrels are affected by a form of leprosy.

The study will investigate how the disease is passed between squirrels and how conservationists can help control its spread.

Leprosy was first identified in red squirrels in Scotland in 2014, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium lepromatosis, although the disease is believed to have been present in the squirrel population for centuries.

Post-mortems have since revealed that the disease is also affecting squirrels on the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island, off the south coast of England. The risk to people from the disease is very low.

The new research study will take place on Brownsea Island, in Poole Harbour, Dorset, which is home to around 200 red squirrels. The island location allows researchers to study the impact of leprosy in a contained environment.

The disease is believed to have been present on Brownsea for many years but researchers have only recently diagnosed it as leprosy.

Little is known about how the bacteria is spreading among red squirrels. The disease causes swelling and hair loss to the ears, muzzle and feet.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are working with the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust on the project.

Vets will use humane traps to capture the squirrels for health checks. They will take blood samples and other clinical samples for analysis before returning the animals to the wild.

Red squirrels have drastically declined in the UK with fewer than 140,000 thought to be remaining on our shores. The main threat to their numbers is from habitat loss and the squirrelpox virus, which is deadly to red squirrels.

Lead researcher Professor Anna Meredith, of the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “The aim of our study is to find out how and why red squirrels catch leprosy, and how it affects both individuals and populations.

“This disease appears to have been in squirrel populations in Scotland and England’s south coast for some time. With this research, we aim to help conservationists better understand and manage the disease in this iconic species.”

Brownsea Island is managed by the National Trust. A large nature reserve on the island, comprising lagoon, reedbed and woodland habitats, is managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Angela Cott, National Trust’s General Manager on Brownsea Island, said: “Bringing together academics and conservationists, this research project represents a significant first step towards deepening our understanding of a complex disease in British red squirrels.

“Many thousands of people visit Brownsea every year, enjoying the island’s wonderful wildlife. Brownsea will remain open whilst the research project takes place.”

Dr Simon Cripps, Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Dorset Wildlife Trust is very pleased to hear Brownsea Island will be involved with a study of national importance.  At last we may be getting closer to understanding why this much loved British species is struggling to survive.  We hope that the research on red squirrels on Brownsea Island will help us to better manage and restore their remaining populations.”

For press information please contact:
Tom Seaward, Assistant Press Officer, 07810 814848 or tom.seaward@nationaltrust.org.uk

New EP captures sounds of Marconi’s Lizard

A new four-track EP, Marconi and the Lizard, by musician and producer Joe Acheson is released today following a week-long National Trust sound residency on the Lizard in Cornwall in August 2015.

The first-ever National sound residency, which was based at the hut where Guglielmo Marconi broadcast the ship-to-shore radio transmission on the beautiful south Cornish coast, was part of the Sounds of our Shores project that ran during the summer of 2015.

Joe Acheson said: “It was a privilege to record sounds that are disappearing from the Lizard, such as the old foghorn and the decommissioned spark transmitter.

“Making music that is so deeply-connected to one specific location brought its own resonance to the project. Like the food philosophy, ‘what grows together, goes together’, sounds from one place naturally work well with each other.”

Download an exclusive FREE track from Marconi and the Lizard

Joe Acheson, Credit National Trust, Steven Haywood

Acheson spent a week exploring a coast full of coves and cliffs in wild summer weather to capture the sounds of the most southerly part of the UK.  Taking inspiration from the Cornish landscape and the people who work in it, Acheson’s EP incorporates sounds of a now decommissioned lighthouse foghorn and fishermen chatting over ships’ radio.

Catherine Lee, National Trust Community and Volunteering Officer on the Lizard, said: “Joe Acheson’s recordings bring the rugged beauty of the Lizard to life. Living and working here you get used to the sounds of the weather and the sea. These familiar sounds which I never consciously notice jumped out of Acheson’s music.

“Acheson transports you back in time to 1901 to the Lizard of Guglielmo Marconi. History seeps into the compositions, with the lighthouse spark generator which has now been taken out of use and lobster pot weaving, a traditional practice now only used by a select few. These sounds might have been lost to history had they not been recorded, shared and celebrated as part of the National Trust’s first ever sound residency.”

Sounds of our Shores was a collaboration between the Trust, British Library and National Trust for Scotland. The project saw more than 680 sounds uploaded on to a crowd-sourced sound map, helping to capture a sonic journey around the 10,800 miles of UK coastline. All of these sounds have now been added to the British Library Sound Archive.

 The EP will be available for digital download from the Tru Thoughts website and to stream on Spotify. The RRP for the EP is £2.50, with individual tracks priced at 79p.

Historic England, National Trust and English Heritage welcome ICOMOS/UNESCO report on Stonehenge tunnel plans

Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage welcome the ICOMOS/UNESCO report published today which recognises the benefits a tunnel of at least 2.9km could bring to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, if it is designed and delivered well.

The report by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation is the result of an advisory mission to the World Heritage Site in October 2015. The report mirrors the views held jointly by Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage, in acknowledging that a fully-bored tunnel of at least 2.9km could help to significantly improve the World Heritage Site and that the design and location of all aspects of the road improvement scheme need to be carefully and fully considered.

View from Normanton Down towards the Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire. The landscape is studded with ancient monuments.

View from Normanton Down towards the Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire. Credit National Trust Images/John Miller

Continue reading

Our view on foraging for wild food

Our National Specialist Matthew Oates writes:

‘The National Trust supports the use of its properties for foraging for abundant species of wild food for personal use. Good foraging will remind us that we are part of nature, make us appreciate nature more, and tame our instincts to over-exploit nature.

Clump of Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) at Prior Park, Bath, Somerset

Foraging activities must be based on the principle of sustainability. We must protect vulnerable species and habitats, and ensure that foraging takes place in a safe and sustainable way.

Continue reading