The final martial statue returns to Stowe after 100 years

The major restoration of Stowe Landscape Garden is now a step closer to completion.

The final statue in the martial series has returned to the National Trust-owned garden for the first time in nearly 100 years following extensive public support and donations for Restoring Stowe – The Landscape Programme.

A cast of The Wrestlers – two men taking part in the Greek sport pankration – will take its place at the heart of the Labyrinth in the Western Garden.

Stu snap

The Wrestlers is lowered into place at Stowe (C) National Trust/Stu Tilley

 

The statue’s return to Stowe follows the reinstatement of Hercules & Antaeus and Samson and the Philistine in 2016, and The Gladiator in the Grecian Valley on 25 October 2017.

Gillian Mason, National Trust curator, explains, “This is a significant year in our restoration of Stowe, the return of these statues reinstates layers of meaning back into the garden, reflecting its eighteenth century zenith.”

The Wrestlers is thought to have been introduced to Stowe in the 1730s along with the other martial statues. Purchased for Bridgeman’s extension of the garden of the same period, The Wrestlers was set within the Labyrinth looking out over Warden Hill Walk.

The Wrestlers is one of four statues that form part of a procession around the garden. Each statue depicts different styles of warfare: sporting competition, ignoble warfare/murder and noble warfare.

Many of the original statues were sold in the great auction of Stowe House in 1921 and 1922 when the decline of the aristocratic family led to bankruptcy. Now scattered all over the world, the National Trust seeks to return the originals where possible, or has sought permission to have faithful replicas cast.

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Statement on trail hunting routes

We have always required trail hunts to be transparent and provide details of where and when the activity will take place. Our new licensing terms reinforce this principle.

We will provide details of dates and maps of the licensed areas on our website, thereby providing the level of transparency our visitors need to make an informed decision over whether or not they want to avoid a hunt in that area on certain days of the year.

However, we do not want to encourage or create a climate of confrontation between trail hunt followers or protestors. Following advice from the police in September, we took the decision not to publish details of specific routes after concerns were raised over public safety and the potential for disorder. We were open about this at the time and have consistently referred to it in public statements.

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Statement on AGM voting process

The National Trust magazine is sent to members three times a year in January, May and September. We always use the summer magazine (sent in May) to let members know when and where the AGM is being held, and to alert them to the information that will be sent with the autumn magazine.  This year the summer magazine carried a full page advert for the AGM. The AGM booklet which includes ballot papers is always sent to members as part of the autumn magazine mailing from early September and details are also published on our website.

This year’s postal and online voting was open from 4 September (the day the autumn magazine is sent) to 13 October 2017. Members were notified how, when and where they could vote both in the AGM booklet and online, alongside full details of the members’ resolutions.  Any member signed up to email communications from the Trust would also have received two emails about the AGM and their right to vote before voting closed. Details are also published in the members’ handbook.

The 2017 AGM saw a 128% increase in the number of votes cast, from 27,881 (2016) to 63,804 (2017). Our voting process was overseen by an independent scrutiniser.

Our voting procedures do not stipulate a minimum turnout for voting on members’ resolutions.

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Collection of rare ancient coins discovered at Scotney Castle

Collection of rare ancient coins discovered at Scotney Castle

  • Chance discovery of nearly two hundred coins that span twenty five centuries
  • Collection includes rare, almost ‘complete set’ of coins minted for Roman emperors
  • Coins to go on display in new exhibition marking ten years since the house opened to visitors

 

 A vast collection of ancient coins has been discovered tucked away in a drawer at the National Trust’s Scotney Castle in Kent. The unique set, comprising 186 coins in total, spans twenty-five centuries of history.

The discovery includes pieces from far-flung locations across the globe, including Syria and China. Others come from closer to home, including a late eighteenth century Welsh bronze token.

Ancient coins discovered at Scotney Castle_©MOLA

Ancient coins discovered at Scotney (C) MOLA

 

Scotney Castle was the home for 200 hundred years of the Hussey family before it was left to the National Trust who opened the mansion house to visitors in 2007.

The coins were found by Trust volunteers while searching for photographs in a study drawer. Research into family diaries in the archive suggests the coins were amassed during the nineteenth century by avid collector Edward Hussey III and his son Edwy.

The coin collection reaches as far back as Archaic Greece, with a seventh century BC piece. This silver token is one of the earliest struck in Europe, and comes from the tiny island of Aegina. It features a clear depiction of a sea turtle – a creature sacred to Aphrodite.

The bulk of the collection is made up of Roman coins, ranging from the late second century BC to the late fourth century AD. It is possible that the Husseys, like many collectors, were trying to gather a ‘complete set’ of Roman rulers. Despite the difficulty of this – Roman succession was complex and many coins of the shorter reigns very rare – they were close to achieving it.

The collection of first century emperors (leaving out empresses and caesars) is missing just one piece.

The second century collection is remarkable too, again only lacking a single coin of the short lived Didius Julianus who reigned in AD 193.

Nathalie Cohen, National Trust archaeologist, says, “We know that Edward and Edwy Hussey had a great interest in collecting, but this considerable cache of fascinating coins shows just how much their interest grew into a collection of exceptional importance. What is a mystery though is why a collection of this calibre ended up at the back of a drawer.”

Diary entries reveal Edward and Edwys’ dedication to and interest in the coin collection. An entry in Edwy’s diary recorded that on 2nd February 1883 he ‘went to the British Museum with papa as he wanted to ask about some coins’. On 28th October 1894 Edwy ‘looked at the coin collection after dinner’.

The records also give insight into the purchase value of the collection in the nineteenth century. In Edward’s diary from 1823 the ‘Accounts’ section lists him purchasing ‘Coins’ priced from 4 shillings to 7 shillings and 6 pence.

Suggesting greater ambitions still for the collection, Edward’s memoranda books include a list of coins he wanted relating to English monarchs, alongside those outstanding from the Roman era.

Experts from MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) have been consulted by the National Trust and consider eighteen of the coins to be ‘rare’ examples.

Julian Bowsher, the MOLA numismatic specialist who examined the coins adds, “It was a delight, as a coins specialist, to examine such a significant and diverse collection. A particular highlight was seeing Roman coins that rarely appear in Britain, such as those of the 3rd century emperors Balbinus, Pupienus and Aemilian, none of whom ruled for more than a year.”

Henrike Philipp, part of the volunteer team that found the coins at Scotney Castle says, “The Hussey family lived at Scotney for two centuries and collected a wealth of objects and memorabilia. Ever since the Trust took on the house we’ve been discovering things in drawers, cupboards and in the mansion archives, such as medieval papers, First World War diaries and books by celebrated landscape gardener William Gilpin.

“Discoveries of rare coins such as these don’t happen often, so this has been especially exciting. We can’t wait to see what we will find next.”

The coins will go on display as part of a new exhibition, Inside the Collection, celebrating ten years since the Trust opened the Scotney Castle mansion to visitors. Other objects on show include beautiful Ming vases, and letters from Wallis Simpson and Margaret Thatcher who both had close connections to the house. [1]

Inside the Collection opens 11am to 3pm, from 4 November to 4 February. Access is by timed ticket. Free event, normal admission applies. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle to find out more.

AGM Results and Statements

The results for the members’ resolutions are as follows: 

Stonehenge A303 motion:

Total votes For            21,903

Total votes Against       30,013

These votes are made up as follows:

Specified votes For                21,898

Specified votes Against             23,303

Discretionary votes For             5

Discretionary votes Against      6,710

Abstentions                     11,089

Result:  The resolution is not carried

Statement on Stonehenge motion result:

National Trust members at today’s annual general meeting have voted against a resolution challenging our conditional support for a tunnel to reduce traffic on the A303 at Stonehenge.

As the Board of Trustees set out in their response, we believe that a tunnel can provide an overall benefit to the whole World Heritage Site if delivered with the utmost care for the surrounding archaeology and chalk grassland landscape.

We share members’ passion for this place and our response to the recent public consultation sets out where we think improvements still need to be made. We will only fully support a scheme when we are convinced it is designed well and will be of overall benefit.

Trail hunting cessation motion:

Total votes For          30,686

Total votes Against       30,985

These votes are made up as follows:

Specified votes For           28,629

Specified votes Against      27,525

Discretionary votes For      2,057

Discretionary votes Against          3,460

Abstentions                1,925

Result:  The resolution is not carried

Statement

National Trust members at today’s annual general meeting have voted against a resolution for the cessation of “trail-hunting” on all land belonging to the charity.

Prior to the vote, the charity’s Trustees had recommended that the activity should be allowed to continue after recent improvements in licensing conditions to further safeguard conservation and access on the Trust’s land.

The conservation charity has been carefully listening to both sides of a highly polarised and passionate debate for years.

We are pleased members have had the opportunity to debate this issue and have voted to support the Trustees’ position.

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Notes to editors: 

Background on the National Trust and trail hunting:

In August we introduced a number of changes in how we license trail ‘hunts’ to further safeguard conservation and access on our land. Our clear, robust, and transparent set of conditions – which followed a six month review – were designed to allow participants to enjoy this activity in compatibility with our conservation aims. The changes can be seen here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/our-position-on-trail–hunting

  • Hunting wild animals was outlawed in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004: National Trust land is no exception.  The law does allow what is known as trail ‘hunting’ to continue. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.  The Trust does license trail ‘hunts’ in some areas and at certain times of the year, where it is compatible with our aims of public access and conservation.
  •  It’s been a long standing licence condition for all hunts to publicly provide details of where and when they will take place on our land. This is not a new licensing condition and this information has never been a secret.
  •  Currently, many people do contact hunts directly for the information they are entitled to have access to. However, they will then come to the Trust if they don’t get the detail they’ve requested. We believe people have every right to expect us to provide this information so they can, for example, avoid certain areas of countryside when a hunt is taking place or conversely to watch a hunt in their local area. Relying however on small, local teams to respond to a high volume of enquiries related to hunts is a labour-intensive and exhaustive process. It’s also an ineffective way of sharing this information in the digital age, lacking consistency and clarity.
  • As a charity with nearly 5 million members, we believe we should be transparent and to share information of public interest in an easily accessible way. That’s why we are planning to provide details of where and when hunts will take on the ‘outdoor licensing page’ of our website.
  • We believe it is right to minimise as far as possible the risk of foxes or any wild animal being accidentally chased during a trail hunt; moving to artificial scents is part of achieving that aim. We are not being prescriptive about the artificial scent used provided it is not animal based in any way.
  • We are making it explicitly clear to all parties that trail hunting, if properly practised, is legal and a legitimate outdoor activity. We will be approaching trail hunting bodies as well as the League Against Cruel Sports with the express aim of reducing as far as possible the potential for violent or abusive and obstructive behaviour by protestors or followers.
  • We propose to publish on our website the area over which the hunt is licensed to carry out their trail hunting activity, together with the dates on which it will take place. We are not proposing to publish starting points, specific routes and times. We have met with the Masters of Foxhounds Association and Countryside Alliance to listen to their concerns and asked them to put forward any alternative proposals. We are also seeking the views of police. Both the MFHA and CA have acknowledged what we are trying to achieve and we will consider the proposals that they bring forward.
  • We also received a letter from tenants in the Lake District outlining concerns. We have responded and offered to meet them to discuss how we can ensure that trail hunting can operate safely.
  • We keep in regular contact with our tenant farmers. Since the creation of trail hunting post-2004 Hunting Act, we have been in charge of licensing this type of outdoor activity. We have always required trail hunts to gain tenant farmer consent for the trail hunt to cross their occupied land.
  • Tenants have never been the licensor: this is exactly the same as for other landowners. We have tightened rules so that the evidence of prior tenant farmer permission is written, not anecdotal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How woodland devastated by Great Storm of 1987 bounced back on its own

AS 110mph winds raged across southern England, Britain’s Great Storm of 1987 wreaked devastation across scores of National Trust woodland.

Hundreds of thousands of trees – some aged more than 400 years old – were lost, on 3,000 acres across 58 sites. The landscape had been torn apart, and the conservation charity faced the biggest outdoor repair job in its history.

“It was a battle zone” says gardener Alan Comb, who had started work at Emmetts Garden, Kent, just a week after the storm hit. “There were trees sticking up like totem poles”.

Martin Sadler, now a Senior Gardener at Petworth, says, “I was only 18 and I’d never seen anything like it before. The trees came down like dominoes.”

During the aftermath of the storm, the Trust took several approaches to managing the clean-up and restoration of its woodlands. Some of the devastated areas were cleared, others were replanted, and non-intervention zones were left alone to regenerate naturally.

In the untouched areas, trees that seeded naturally were allowed to grow and, in many cases, are developing faster than those that were planted. This learning affected the way the Trust now manages the land in its care.

Tom Hill, National Trust Trees & Woodland Officer in the South East, said, “Today, we work much more closely with natural ecological processes and, where possible, allow damaged woodland to regenerate naturally. The National Trust looks after more than 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of woodland, 36% of which is in London and the South East, so it’s vital that we continue to evolve our approach to woodland management to help it to thrive.”

Most of the trees that fell at Knole in Kent were left as deadwood, which benefited fungi, plants and wildlife, as well as the trees that grew to replace them.

Ninety-five per cent of the woodland surrounding Emmett’s Garden in Kent was destroyed in the storm. Although the gardens have been replanted and woodland regenerated, remaining tree stumps and fallen specimens act as a continuing reminder of what happened.

Down the road, Toys Hill, the former home of National Trust founder Octavia Hill, lost 98 per cent of its trees. After the clean-up, some of the areas left alone flourished spectacularly, benefitting ecosystems and wildlife.

Light allowed in by the removal of so much of the canopy caused dormant seeds to burst into life, including native clematis, honeysuckle and heather – unseen in the area for more than a century.

Birds and dormice also benefited. The woodlark and nightjar population increased, and little owls, tawny owls, buzzards, hobbies and sparrow hawks exploited the more open woodland.

The storm also exposed tree rings hidden for centuries, enabling the Trust to date them and reveal more about the history of the special places in its care.

David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, said, “The fallout from the Great Storm helped the Trust to understand that sometimes, in order to restore a healthy, diverse natural environment, the best approach can be to do nothing at all. Now more than ever, it is important that we find the right balance between human principles for land management, and letting nature take its course.”

“We’re conscious that as the climate warms, we are likely to face more extreme and unpredictable weather. We will respond to this through active conservation work, like providing trees with more space to take stronger roots against high winds, and giving areas the opportunity to regenerate and recover naturally.”

In the years following the storm, the Trust planted 500,000 trees, preferring young saplings to semi mature trees due to faster establishment. Where necessary, the Trust resurrected garden drainage systems to provide optimum growing conditions and selected species better suited to extreme weather.

Through careful management of the land in its care, The Trust is working to reverse the decline in UK wildlife, aiming to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat by 2025.

 

Extreme weeding – fighting an aquatic invader at Claremont

In an extreme case of weeding, amphibious tractors are this week tackling almost 16 tonnes of invasive weed in the lake at the National Trust’s Claremont Landscape Garden.

The vehicles, an amphibious cross between a tractor and a tank, are armed with giant rakes to remove the carpet of Crassula helmsii – also known as New Zealand Pigmyweed – that is covering the man-made serpentine lake at the Surrey garden.

Extreme weeding at Claremont, photo Dee Durham/National Trust

The non-native weed reproduces rapidly and, without natural competition in the UK, can quickly spread out of control, overtaking a waterbody and blocking out light for other flora and fauna.

The harvesters have been busy collecting the weed and depositing it in a huge pile on the island in the centre of the lake. Here it will rot down quickly, creating compost, while allowing any fish and invertebrates scooped up to make their way back into the lake.

The lake is 27,000 m2 and it could take almost two weeks for the surface to be completely clear of the aquatic invader. There is currently no known way to entirely eradicate the weed, so gardeners at Claremont will manually remove the weed throughout the year using nets and waders. 

Claremont Landscape Garden, photo Hannah Elliott/National Trust

Tim Rayfield, Senior Gardener at Claremont, said: “By using the large harvesters, we’re able to control the Crassula with minimum impact on the lake and its eco system.

“It’s one of the more unusual ways that we conserve this amazing landscape garden, and it’s great to be able to see the trees reflected in the water once again.”