Wartime tunnels open at the White Cliffs of Dover

Second World War tunnels built on the orders of Winston Churchill underneath the White Cliffs of Dover, have opened to visitors for the first time following a two-year conservation project involving over 50 volunteers.

Fan Bay Deep Shelter, for blog post, credit Richard Crowhurst Corvidae (1)

Fan Bay Deep Shelter. Copyright National Trust, credit Richard Crowhurst Corvidae

Fan Bay Deep Shelter was built in the 1940s as part of Dover’s offensive and defensive gun batteries, which were designed to prevent German ships moving freely in the English Channel. The shelter was personally inspected by Winston Churchill in June 1941.

Carved out of the chalk cliffs, the shelter accommodated four officers and up to 185 men of other ranks during bombardments in five bomb-proof chambers and also had a hospital and secure store. It was decommissioned in the 1950s and filled in two decades later.

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Wildlife on the Great Orme

Matthew Oates, National Specialist on Nature and Wildlife for the National Trust, shares his love for the Great Orme in North Wales and the wildlife that calls it home.

The Great Orme is a place of pilgrimage for British naturalists.  Try finding a botanist or a butterfly enthusiast who hasn’t been there, or at least one who doesn’t desperately want to visit.  It is also on the birders’ radar, for its increasing Chough population and because it is a place where rare migrants turn up.  Bat, beetle, lichen, moss, moth and marine wildlife enthusiasts also know and love the Great Orme, as do geologists, geographers and archaeologists. In effect, it is a wildlife paradise.

The Great Orme, 12/05/15. Photograph Richard Williams richardwilliamsimages@hotmail.com 07901518159

The Great Orme, Credit National Trust, Richard Williams

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Clandon Park fire – update

The National Trust today revealed a significant amount of the collection had been saved from the Clandon Park fire during the salvage operation.

Crews from Surrey Fire Brigade were continuing to dampen down the stately home, following the blaze which ripped through the 18th century stately home, near Guildford, Surrey, on Wednesday afternoon.

The house has been left a burnt out shell by the blaze and a cordon remains in place around the site.

Staff are now assessing what they have been able to save and determining what has been lost.

Among the items that have been saved are:

Speaker Arthur Onslow calling upon Sir Robert Walpole to speak in the House of Commons by Sir James Thornhill (Melcombe Regis 1675 - Stalbridge 1734) and William Hogarth (London 1697 - London 1764)

Painting depicting Speaker Arthur Onslow calling upon Sir Robert Walpole to speak in the House of Commons ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

  • Painting depicting Speaker Arthur Onslow calling upon Sir Robert Walpole to speak in the House of Commons, by Sir James Thornhill  and William Hogarth 1730, from the Library
  • Board listing the rules to be observed in the servants’ hall at Clandon, eighteenth century.
  • Painting of an ostrich in a classical landscape, oil on canvas, by Francis Barlow (c.1626–1704), probably painted in the 1670s, from the Marble Hall.
  • Bible printed by John Basket in 1716-1717, from the Library
  • Folding screen incorporating Victorian and Edwardian Onslow family photographs, from the Library
  • A pair of giltwood side tables in the manner of John Gumley and James Moore, made in about 1725, from the State Bedroom
  • Silver, including some pieces by the noted silversmith Paul Storr, from the Speaker’s Parlour
  • The hangings of the Clandon state bed, made in about 1710. The hangings had just returned to Clandon following conservation treatment and were still packed up.
  • Set of hall chairs with the Onslow crest, from the Marble Hall at Clandon

 

Until a full assessment is done it will not be possible to confirm objects that did not survive.

The Trust’s Director General, Helen Ghosh said: “Although the house was pretty well burned out, the operation rescued a significant amount of the collection, and we are hopeful there will be more to recover when our specialists are able to get inside the building and start the painstaking archaeological salvage work. But there is a lot that we will never recover.

“The immediate sense of shock and loss amongst staff working at the property has quickly been replaced by a steely determination. The team at Clandon, staff from other properties and local volunteers – have responded with tremendous fortitude, calmness and professionalism to the event.

“When the overall impact of the fire is clearer, we will be able to decide on the longer term future of the house.

“I’d like to again thank the magnificent job the Surrey Fire Brigade. Their team-work and professionalism has been awe-inspiring.

“We’ve also been very touched by the offers of support, concern and good will from all over the country – we appreciate those messages.”

We cannot say at this stage what the future holds but donations raised will help Clandon Park face its uncertain future. To make a donation please call 0344 800 1895.

Head for the hills – are ewe the right person for this one-off shepherding opportunity?

The National Trust is looking for a second shepherd to support an innovative conservation project in the foothills of Snowdon in North Wales.

Herding the sheep on the mountains above Hafod Y Llan. Credit Joe Cornish

Herding the sheep on the mountains above Hafod Y Llan. Credit Joe Cornish

The conservation charity’s in-hand farm, Hafod-y-Llan, manages 1600 Welsh Mountain sheep and every day between May and September, some of the flock is shepherded to new grazing areas away from any sensitive mountain habitats such as upland heaths and flushes (wet, boggy areas), in a bid to improve plant diversity on areas of the mountain.

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Marine Conservation Zones – Tranche 2

Lundy Island

The waters around Lundy Island became England’s first Marine Conservation Zone in 2010.

 

Here is the National Trust’s response to the Government’s consultation on designating 23 new Marine Conservation Zones off the English coast: MCZ 2nd tranche Consultation NT response

The Trust is calling for the designation of all 23 candidates MCZs.

If you would like to submit your own response to the consultation, you can do so using this handy template provided by the Marine Conservation Society:  http://www.mcsuk.org/mpa/consultation

But hurry, the consultation closes on Friday!

Be an ‘Eggsplorer’ this Easter

National Trust teams up with Cadbury to offer families an Easter weekend of fun

Children playing in a tree at Tyntesfield, North Somerset.

It’s that time of the year again when Cadbury teams up with the National Trust to offer families the ultimate day out with their popular Easter Egg Trails.

This year, the Cadbury Eggsplorers Easter Egg Trail (3-6 April) will be inviting families to unleash their inner explorer with adventurous trails taking place across the country.

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National Trust launches ambitious plan to nurse natural environment back to health

The National Trust today (Monday, 23 March) launched an ambitious plan to nurse the natural environment back to health and reverse the alarming decline in wildlife – as it warned time was running out to save the countryside from further harm.

Image 1  Satellite image taken on Feb 16, 2014, shows how soil is washed from fields and out into the sea.  Credit NEODAAS University of Dundee.

Satellite image taken on Feb 16, 2014, shows how soil is washed from fields and out into the sea. Credit NEODAAS University of Dundee.

Europe’s biggest conservation charity said climate change now poses the single biggest threat to the places the Trust looks after, bringing new, damaging threats to a natural environment already under-pressure, and a growing conservation challenge to its houses and gardens.

The countryside had been damaged by decades of unsustainable land management, which has seen intensive farming and now climate change undermine the long-term health of the land. 60% of species have declined in the UK over the last 50 years [1], habitats have been destroyed and over-worked soils have been washed out to sea.

The Trust said it would challenge itself to develop new, innovative ways of managing land on a large scale, which were good for farmers, good for the economy and good for the environment. It also pledged to work with partners to help look after some of the country’s most important landscapes, reconnecting habitats and bringing back their natural beauty.

The River Liza, part of the Wild Ennerdale project, Cumbria.

The River Liza, part of the Wild Ennerdale project, Cumbria. Copyright National Trust.

The next decade will mark a new chapter in the Trust’s history, which will see it increasingly join forces with other charities, government, business and local communities to improve the quality of the land and attract wildlife back to the fields, woods and river banks.

The charity, which has over 4.2m members, announced it would spend more than ever on looking after its historic houses and collections, and would also explore ways to help local communities to look after the heritage that is important to them.

Launched today in central London, the Trust’s 10-year strategy ‘Playing our Part – What does the nation need from the National Trust in the 21 century?’ outlines four key priority areas:

Looking after our places

  • We will spend around £1bn over the next ten years on the conservation of our houses, gardens and countryside, including £300m on clearing the backlog of repairs.
  • We will continue to play our part in mitigating climate change: cutting our energy usage by 20% by 2020 and sourcing 50% of that from renewable sources on our land.

Healthy, beautiful natural environment

  • Develop new economic models of land use to share with others and champion the role of nature in our lives.
  • We will work with our tenant farmers to improve all our land to a good condition.
  • We will work with other organisations to conserve and renew the nation’s most important landscapes.

Experiences of our places that move, teach and inspire

  • People’s tastes are changing and their expectations continue to grow. We will work harder to give our visitors experiences that are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspire them to support our cause.
  • We will invest in major changes at our most visited houses to transform how we tell the story of why the place mattered in the past and why it matters today.

Helping to look after the places people live

  • Budget cuts mean that many public green spaces enjoyed by local communities are now under threat. The Trust will explore what role it could play in helping safeguard their future.
  • We will also look at ways of supporting local heritage impacted by spending cuts and play a leadership role in the annual Heritage Open Days, the country’s most popular heritage event.
Maritime heather, (Erica vagans) in flower in August and view of Cornish coastline from Kynance Cove, The Lizard, Cornwall

Maritime heather, (Erica vagans) in flower in August and view of Cornish coastline from Kynance Cove, The Lizard, Cornwall. Copyright National Trust.

Helen Ghosh, the Trust’s Director General, said: “The protection of our natural environment and historic places over the past 100 years has been core to the work of the Trust but it has never been just about looking after our own places.

“The natural environment is in poor health, compromised by decades of unsustainable management and under pressure from climate change. Wildlife has declined, over-worked soils are washing out to sea; villages and towns are flooded.

“Millions of people love and cherish the great outdoors, it’s vital to our sense of well-being, our identity and our health. But beyond that nature also supports us in all kinds of other ways, from flood protection to carbon storage. We can’t keep taking it for granted.

“Our strategy calls on the National Trust to respond to these threats and play its part in new ways: achieving a step change in how we look after our own countryside, and reaching out to partners and communities beyond our boundaries to meet the challenges we face at this moment in our history.

“This is a long-term commitment, for the benefit of generations to come: we know that many of our changes will take thirty years or more.”

Chairman Tim Parker added: “We can’t solve these issues on our own. Our strategy will see us working more collaboratively with a range of partners to explore new approaches and find new solutions. We will support where we can and lead where we should.

“The National Trust has always responded to the challenges of the time. I believe our founders would be proud of our ambitions and the part we plan to play.”

So that members can make the most of their membership, most properties will be moving to being open 364 days a year.  Members and supporters will get more personalised information from the Trust about events and activities, and be able to get much better information on digital channels about the places and subjects that interest them.

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1] State of Nature Report, RSPB and others (2013)