Isle of Wight farm set to help birds and butterflies flourish

Farmland acquired on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight is the largest coastal acquisition by the National Trust in England since 1993.

The view from Dunsbury Farm towards the Needles

The view from Dunsbury Farm towards the Needles

The 165 hectare Dunsbury Farm is the third major coastal acquisition of the year as the Trust celebrates 50 years of its Neptune Coastline Campaign.

Neighbouring the farm is the wildlife rich chalk downland of Compton, home to 33 species of butterflies including the Adonis blue, Common blue and Chalkhill blue, and an oasis of wildflowers such as the internationally rare early gentian and at least seven species of orchid.

The 15-mile Tennyson Trail, named after Alfred Lord Tennyson, skirts the northern edge of the farm. Tennyson loved striding out over the open downland, with its dramatic sea views. Whilst living on the Isle of Wight, as Poet Laureate, he was inspired to write many of his classic poems. To the south lies the picturesque Trust-owned Brook and Compton Bays.

Plans for Dunsbury Farm will help to expand the range for the Glanville Fritillary butterfly

Plans for Dunsbury Farm will help to expand the range for the Glanville Fritillary butterfly

A key vision for the farm is to help create the right farmland habitat for wildlife to flourish. The Isle of Wight is home to the UK’s only endemic population of the rare Glanville Fritillary butterfly, and Compton Bay is the traditional stronghold of that population.

The Trust will work in partnership with Butterfly Conservation to create the right conditions to safeguard the habitat of this beautiful insect. It relies on crumbling cliffs, and the downs behind the coast provide additional breeding habitat. The acquisition of Dunsbury is crucial to the future of the Glanville fritillary as the Isle of Wight coast continues to change.

Plans will also be developed to help farmlands birds, once a common sight, return to the land. These include the linnet, Dartford warbler, stonechat, meadow pipit, skylark, gold finch, bullfinch, hedge sparrow, grey partridge and yellow hammer.

Mixed farming, with livestock such as cattle and sheep, together with growing cereals such as wheat, will be important to provide diversity for wildlife. Farming will be un-intensive, with light grazing, wide field margins and stubble fields left to provide winter food for birds. The Trust hopes to achieve this by combining it with their farm at Compton, working with the farm tenant to produce a viable unit. Walkers will then be able to experience more wildlife as they use the network of footpaths across the farm.

Funding to buy the farm has come from a mixture of legacies and from the thousands of supporters who have generously given to the Neptune Campaign.

Tony Tutton, National Trust Isle of Wight General Manager, said: “This farm is a crucial piece of the coastal jigsaw for the National Trust on the Isle of Wight. It allows us to plan for the future of a coast which is eroding at a rate of 1.5 metres per year, allowing us to maintain access to this much loved part of the island, and to re-wild this landscape, making it healthy and beautiful for the future.

“Our plan is to introduce the sort of farming that will be an exemplar, by being both productive, and good for wildlife.

“Given time and lots of hard work the farm will also become a vital place where we can combine people’s enjoyment of butterflies and farmland birds with the stunning views along the chalk cliffs towards the Needles.”

The Farm sits within the Isle of Wight’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and ensures the future protection of an unbroken stretch of coastline that is one of the most significant in the UK to combine wildlife, geology and recreation.

Gathering wild words

Words shape our history and our story. They provide the tools that allow us to create the narratives that define us. Words are important because they give us the ability to capture the colour and nuance that connects us to the world that we inhabit.

blackberry has become Blackberry; with technology trumping nature

blackberry has become Blackberry; with technology trumping nature

And nowhere is this so important as the words that children learn as they grow up. That is why it really matters for the natural world that 50 words about nature and the countryside have disappeared from the Oxford Junior Dictionary back in 2012. Generations have grown up discovering these wonderful words helping to deepen our connection with the natural world.

The Oxford Junior Dictionary has replaced many words that we took for granted such as catkins, conkers, otters and kingfishers with cut and paste and broadband; even blackberry has become Blackberry.

How can you look after nature if you can’t name what you’re trying to save? This is why the Trust is getting behind the campaign by naturalist and writer Robert Macfarlane in his quest to collect as many words as possible that describe nature. His latest book, “Landmarks”, out earlier this year, began to catalogue the huge range of regional and very local words used to describe the diversity of nature – the land, the topography, species etc.

Writing in the autumn issue of the National Trust Magazine, Robert is asking Trust members and supporters for their own nature words to include in the paperback issue of Landmarks, out in spring 2016.

Robert Macfarlane, says, “If you have place- and nature-words of your own, please do send them to me and the National Trust. When Landmarks is published in paperback next year, I plan to include a new glossary, which collects and shares these new wild words.”

We’ve already had some great contributions from our members and supporters. If you have any words that you’d like to submit please send them, by the end of October, to

Looking for freelance communications support

We’re looking for a talented and dynamic communications professional to help provide some cover for an exciting energy and climate change role during the next six months.

The hydro project in Snowdonia generating electricity for the Trust

The hydro project in Snowdonia generating clean electricity for the Trust

The successful candidate will have excellent media relations skills, good awareness of the sector, be able to write top quality content and have strong experience of managing a  communications plan including corporate partner support. You can find out more information about our energy work via:

If you are interested please send in your CV and a short covering letter outlining your interest in the role and availability to Mike Collins ( by Friday 2 October (copies of the role profile are available on request). We are flexible in terms of location and the number of days worked per week. For an informal chat about the role please contact Mike on 07900 138419.

Pembrokeshire cottage restored to former glory

Treleddyd Fawr Cottage

Treleddyd Fawr Cottage St David’s

The National Trust is delighted to have completed the restoration of Treleddyd Fawr Cottage, a Grade II listed property near St David’s, and one of the last surviving examples of a traditional Pembrokeshire cottage.

Now it’s ready to open the door to guests as cosy holiday accommodation, a decision taken by the Trust to allow more visitors to experience this rare slice of Welsh history.

Nestled in the coastal countryside, the one-bedroom cottage and its outbuildings date back to the early 1800s and were bequeathed to the Trust by Mr Glyn Griffiths, with the wish to preserve their personality and charm for others to enjoy.

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Making waves around the UK coastline

The coastline around the UK is a very special one. Its full of amazing places that capture our imagination and its a place that many of us spend alot of time daydreaming about.

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you an hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you an hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

This summer the National Trust in collaboration with the British Library and the National Trust for Scotland has been asking people to record the sounds of the coast.  The ‘sounds of our shores’ project is all about capturing sonic postcards from the whole coastline.

Hundreds of people have taken part; recording sounds from remote stretches of coastline where the waves and seabirds are the only sound for miles around, or submittng sound from a classic seaside town or busy seaport.

With only ten days left to add your sounds there is still plenty of time to help populate the sound map, hosted on the British Library website, with more sonic treasures from our coastline. Musician and producer Martyn Ware (Human League and Heaven 17) will be using the sounds submitted as an inspiration to create a new piece of music, out in February 2016.

We’ve identified some of the gaps on the map (see below) and would love people heading to the coast in the next few weeks and weekends or those lucky enought to be living by the sea to help build up a really comprehensive soundscape of the UK coastline.

Martyn Ware on Brighton   beach recording sounds for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Martyn Ware on Brighton beach recording sounds for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Its easy to record the sounds via a free audioboom app or via your laptop. Sounds can be up to 5 minutes long and you can use video to submit sounds (audioBoom does a really clever thing, stripping the sound off of the film).

The areas that we’d love to get more sounds from include:

  • South Devon
  • St Austell to Falmouth
  • Padstow to Bideford
  • Minehead to Weston super Mare
  • Cardiff
  • The Pembrokeshire coastline
  • Cardigan to Aberystwyth
  • North West Wales
  • Merseyside
  • The Cumbrian coast
  • South West Scotland
  • North West Scotland
  • Orkney
  • The coast between Inverness and Dundee
  • Sunderland to north Yorkshire
  • The Wash
  • The Kent coastline
  • West Sussex
  • Portsmouth
  • The East coast of Northumberland

If you’d like to add your coastal sounds they need to be submitted by the 21 September via the audioBoom sounds of our shores channel

New technology saves exquisite Tudor stained glass

Visitors to The Vyne in Hampshire can witness a unique project to conserve beautiful 16th-century stained glass windows in the Tudor Chapel. Having survived Civil War armies and Second World War bombing raids, this precious glass is now under attack from a new enemy.

The Chapel contains the finest stained glass in our care, considered to be among the most beautiful 16th-century glass in Europe. Famous for its jewel-like clarity, it features images of King Henry VIII, who visited The Vyne several times, as well as his sister Margaret and first wife Catherine of Aragon, together with their patron saints.

But condensation is eating away at it, causing pitting and corrosion. Thankfully modern technology is coming to the rescue. The glass is being removed so that it can be re-fitted with state-of-the-art protective glazing by specialists Holy Well Glass.

Stained glass conservator Steve Clare removes Tudow window depicting King Henry VIII, from The Vyne's chapel ©National Trust Images James Dobson

Stained glass conservator Steve Clare removes Tudor window depicting King Henry VIII, from The Vyne’s Chapel ©National Trust Images James Dobson

Scaffold platform offers once-in-a-lifetime view

As the stained glass is removed, the empty window spaces will be temporarily filled with clear glass featuring simple lead tracery that matches the outline of the original imagery. This will offer a previously unseen perspective of the Chapel during the work from a scaffold viewing platform.

‘Our viewing platform will give visitors a fantastic view of the Chapel’s other historic features,’ says house steward Dominique Shembry. ‘These include the incredible detail on the Tudor wooden stalls, which are carved with heraldry, plant motifs and cherubs, and the 18th-century trompe l’oeil artwork on the walls.’

Get up close to superb Tudor craftsmanship

The viewing platform also provides a unique opportunity to study up close the superb workmanship of the Chapel’s central window. This stained glass, depicting the crucifixion of Christ, has already been successfully fitted with new glazing as part of a pilot project and is remaining in place.

The external wire grills currently covering the Chapel windows are also being removed so that the stained glass can be seen in its original 16th-century splendour when it returns later in the year.

The Vyne Chapel - L to R Henry's sister Queen Margaret of Scotland with St Margaret of Antioch, ©National Trust Images, Helen Sanderson

The Vyne Chapel – L to R Henry VIII’s sister Queen Margaret of Scotland with St Margaret of Antioch, ©National Trust Images, Helen Sanderson

Technology captures conservation in action

A new exhibition reveals more about the stories portrayed in the stained glass and the legends surrounding its mysterious past. There’ll also be a chance to examine some of the original glass before it’s reinstated in the Chapel.

Film footage of the conservators working on the glass in their studio will be captured using audio-visual technology supplied by Panasonic, including wearable cameras.

This, together with time-lapse photography of the glass being removed from the Chapel’s windows, will be projected into a new exhibition space, giving visitors a unique opportunity to follow the work as it progresses.

A Tudor power house

The Chapel, together with the Oak Gallery, are the most complete surviving Tudor interiors at The Vyne which was the home of Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys. Sandys entertained Anne Boleyn at The Vyne, but was later to escort her to her prison in the Tower of London.

The glass itself was made, not for The Vyne’s Chapel, but for the nearby Holy Ghost Chapel. The myths surrounding its survival are many, but it is thought to have been rescued from the Chapel during Civil War hostilities, and hidden, later to appear at The Vyne.



Worrying decline in days out by the coast

Children enjoying the coast at Yaverland, Isle of Wight. Credit Steve Haywood

Children enjoying the coast at Yaverland, Isle of Wight. Credit Steve Haywood

A YouGov study has revealed a worrying 20 per cent decline in the number of people visiting the coast since 2005. The research we commissioned also found that over half the nation hasn’t had a single day trip to the coast in the last year.

A steady decline in the nation’s feelings of connectedness to the coast, particularly in young people, was also confirmed by the comparative study of 9,000 people over the last decade. Only one in seven 18-24 year olds felt that their happiest childhood memory is being by the sea, which is half the national average.

Not having enough spare time was given as the biggest reason stopping people hitting the shores. Other barriers were that the coast is too busy when the weather is nice, too expensive and lacks easy transport links. Many people said they would rather go abroad.

Island nation’s pride in the coast

Yet nearly 90 per cent of adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland think of our coast as a national treasure, the research showed. And the majority of people agreed that it’s important for children to experience the UK’s seaside.

There was an overwhelming sense of pride and affection for our shores with over three quarters of people agreeing that our coastline makes the UK a better place to live and more than one in five day dreaming of the coast during everyday life.

‘The UK coastline is a magical place and can offer such a diverse range of experiences – from a coastal walk to rock-pooling and just feeling a sense of freedom when kicking off your shoes,’ said Gwen Potter, our wildlife and countryside ranger and coastal champion. ‘I think the coast offers a real sense of togetherness when you visit with loved ones, which is what makes it so special to me.’

Celebrating the coast

To reignite the nation’s love of the coast, we’ve got one of the country’s most celebrated poets, Dr John Cooper Clarke, to write the first half of a new poem, the ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’. We now want you to help finish the poem by sharing your memories and love of the coast using #lovethecoast.

To help the nation reconnect with the coast and get people planning their seaside visits again, we’re also bringing a little bit of the coast to cities across the UK. A full sensory coastal experience in the form of a giant shell, the ‘Shellsphere’ will radiate aromas of salty sea air and seaweed, the sounds of waves and seagulls and magical interior lighting.

Raising awareness of the role we play in caring for the UK coast, the Shellsphere will be embarking on a nationwide tour to London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast from 19-31 August 2015.