On Thursday 23 February 2012, 20 children from Woodchester Endowed C of E Primary School spent the day at Woodchester Mansion. In the morning, the children planted saplings on the bank outside the front door of the Mansion. The trees are to grow alongside a hedge created recently when Cotswold Volunteer Wardens laid the existing trees. The children planted a variety of saplings including hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, rose, crab apple, hazel, silver birch and dogwood which will augment the hedge and, we hope, attract insects to provide food for the Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats that roost in the Mansion.
Later, the children were taken on a tour of the Mansion by WMT Volunteers, and Jonny Anderson (the Mansion’s Training Manager) showed some of the restoration work that is being done at the Mansion. It was an enjoyable day for all concerned, but was a full day for the children as they had walked up through the park in the morning and were faced with the return walk in the afternoon.
The school has donated a Royal Oak to be planted in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and some of the children will return to the Mansion shortly to plant the tree. In addition, a Royal Oak will be planted on behalf of Woodchester Mansion Trust later in the year.
Marcus Gill, the Mansion’s Custodian, said that the planting is part of a three year restoration programme agreed with Natural England to improve the exterior of the North Range. The programme includes the gradual reduction of the laurel growing on the bank, the laying and restocking of the hedge, the clearing of the area between the hedge and the bank, the clearing and repair of the steps up to the stables, and the clearance of the exterior of the North Range.
Year one is now almost at an end with only the chipping of the laurel and the repair of the wall alongside the steps to complete.
We have been very fortunate in having a great deal of help this year from the Cotswold Volunteer Wardens who, laid the hedge and are doing the repair work to the walls on the steps. They have also paid for and installed a new kissing gate at the entrance to the Mansion’s grounds, and will be putting in a bench close by. Over the winter they also helped with clearing laurel and coppiced some of the Mansion's woodland.
All the trees for the hedge and the two oaks were obtained free from the Woodland Trust as part of the Jubilee celebrations and we hope to register their planting once completed. The guards for the Oak trees have kindly been donated by Dennis Brown and Son of Woodchester.
Marcus said: “I have been fortunate to have had help from WMT volunteers all the way through the winter and this has enabled us to really help reduce the damp at the rear of the mansion. I look forward to next October and the commencement of year 2 of the programme.”