School reveals rich history at Heritage Open Days

King Edward’s Witley opened its doors to the general public last weekend to share its rich history with visitors, as part of the established national Heritage Open Days initiative. The event marked the first time the school has taken part in England’s favourite heritage festival and was particularly apposite given this year’s focus on the 150th anniversary of the school’s move to Witley.

Led by the School’s Archivist, Marilyn Wilkes, around 40 people took part in two tours on Sunday, September 10, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to behold the local landmark architecture as well as the imposing Bridewell and Selborne Rooms, which both house original paintings of historic interest. The Bridewell Room, part of the original 1867 complex of buildings housing the Schoolis used for receptions, Governors’ meetings and meetings of the School’s pupil council. The Selborne Room – originally built in 1876 as the Dining Hall –  was named after the 4th Earl of Selborne, (Treasurer of Bridewell Royal Hospital from 1972 to 1983) and is now used for exams, conferences, seminars and other functions.  Guests also had a private view of Charter Hall, the scene for all school productions and awards ceremonies, which was formally opened by the President of Bridewell Royal Hospital, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, in 1958,  and which houses the original and enormous 17th Century Charter Portrait.

Other highlights of the tour included the beautiful on-site Chapel, first consecrated in 1868; the School’s own museum which houses numerous original artefacts and photographs (including a real hammock used by boarders until the 1940s); the War Memorial erected in honour of the Masters and former pupils who fell in the 1914-1918 war; and the statue of the young King Edward VI, who originally granted his palace at Bridewell, on the banks of the Thames, to the Lord Mayor of London, creating the School’s parent foundation (Bridewell Royal Hospital), as a place for the training and education of poor children in 1553.

Throughout the tours, Mrs Wilkes, provided a potted history of King Edward’s Witley, from its original origins as a Tudor orphanage in the City of London through to the world-class school it is today.

Mrs Wilkes said: “We are immensely proud of King Edward’s long history and it was wonderful to provide our visitors with an understanding of the School’s exceptional heritage. Even for those living locally, many were surprised at the size of the school behind the road-side façade and all enjoyed hearing about the fascinating journey from 1553 to the current day.”


Petersfield Round Table supports Oaks play scheme

The Oaks Playscheme, a small local charity providing a holiday playscheme for children with disabilities and special needs, is thrilled to have the support of Petersfield Round Table.

Chairman Paul Baker and colleagues came and visited The Oaks Playscheme during the summer holiday playscheme to present a cheque for a whopping £1,500.

Kim and her dedicated team accepted the cheque along with some of the children and together they will decide just how to spend this money.

The Oaks Playscheme has been running in Petersfield for 20 years and provides a safe, fun and caring place for children, aged three to 11 years, with disabilities and additional needs.

Angharad Snow said: “The charity relies on the support of local groups and businesses to help fund the activities that provide wonderful experiences for the children who come to The Oaks. Visits from a dedicated musical therapist, local farms, donkey rides and travelling theatre groups would just not be possible without the generosity of other charities like Petersfield Round Table and on behalf of all the children and staff we’d like to say THANK YOU!”

Call 01730 261866 or 07796 134724 or see the website to find out more.


Free Heritage Open Day at Waverley Abbey House

Every year in September, thousands of hidden, historic places open their doors to the public for free during the Heritage Open Day event, to celebrate our fantastic history, architecture and culture.
And you can take this rare opportunity to explore the stunning setting of Waverley Abbey House for free.

Waverley Abbey House

Learn about its rich history, dating back to King George I’s reign, discover the remarkable role that Waverley played during WW1 and walk in the footsteps of some famous visitors.
Find out what happens today at Waverley Abbey House and enjoy a free day out with family or friends in the beautiful Surrey countryside.
Free guided tours of the house will take place throughout the day and a history display will be available on the first floor, accessible by stairs only.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy the grounds and a game of badminton or croquet, weather permitting. The ruins of ancient Waverley Abbey are only a short stroll across the footbridge opposite the house.
Homemade light lunches, delicious cakes and refreshments will also be available in our café.

Free lecture on tuberculosis history at Haslemere Museum

Historian of medicine and science, and author of ‘Spitting Blood: the history of tuberculosis’, Helen Bynum, is presenting a free lecture at Haslemere Museum on tuberculosis in the context of the history of the sanatorium movement.

The lecture, A Design for Living, takes place on Thursday, September 21 at 7.30pm and is one of the events being held by Haslemere’s Holy Cross Hospital for its centenary. The Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross of Liege established the Hospital as a tuberculosis sanatorium is 1917.

Tickets for the lecture are free and available from Reception at Holy Cross Hospital. There will be a reception on arrival and a chance to take in the Hospital’s centenary exhibition which will be on display at the Museum from September 1-30.

See to find out more.

Daubing day at Butser Ancient Farm – wattle lot of fun!

By Kat Wootton

I’m at Butser Ancient Farm in Chalton, south of Petersfield just off the A3, on a hot and humid Sunday morning. Flying ant weather; and good drying weather for some daubing.

Wattle and daub – that ancient method of making walls – is basically a woven latticework of sticks with mud stuck on top to make it draught- and weather- proof.

I’m at the experimental archaeology site to volunteer my services in finishing a new roundhouse, built in the late Iron Age style. Unlike the large roundhouse next door, there’s no central circle of posts to hold the roof up, just a wattle circle wall using willow rather than the usual hazel to weave between the outer posts, a thatched straw roof and two layers of daub.

Mud, hair, dung and water mix – the daub

The inside walls had been daubed the week before by a group on a corporate team building day. Now the volunteers step up to do the outside.

Daub is a mixture of soil (which here contains a fair bit of chalk), cow dung, cow and horse hair, and straw, with water added until it’s the consistency of a wet cake mix. The aim is to splat it onto the wattle so that it coats it in an inch or two thick layer, squishing between the willow stems. Too wet and it won’t stay on, too dry and it won’t envelope the willow. It’s very therapeutic as we hurl clots of daub at the wall, before patting with the back of our hands to smooth it out and weld the blobs of daub together. When it’s dried a little, it can be smoothed with a plasterer’s tool. The bigger stones have to be picked out and we work in panels of three or four upright posts at a time, starting at the bottom and working our way up to the top under the eaves, which is tricky and usually results in a liberal amount of daub in the hair and down your top. It’s well rotted dung so it doesn’t smell. We convince ourselves it is conditioning our hair and skin…

Trevor, who is coordinating the small group of volunteers, gets stuck in too, under the watchful eye of David Freeman, resident archaeologist and proud builder of the roundhouse, as well as the stone age buildings at the other side of the Farm.

One little girl is so absorbed, she doesn’t want to stop even when the lunch call comes. Her younger brother isn’t so keen to get his hands dirty but once he plunges his hands into the bucket of gloop and realises he is actually allowed to sling mud, he gets to work with gusto, singing “splat splat splat” as he does so. There is lots of chat about how people would have built these houses, how long it might have taken them, how many people would have lived in it… a lesson in pre-history as we work. David explains that the walls would have been painted – he’s going for lime white and ochre red, with yellow bands top and bottom and swirling abstract designs painted on top.

David’s very neat daubing

Members of the Anglo Saxon reenactment group Herigeas Hundas walk past, eyeing the dirty work. We are coated in mud. We threaten to see them off by mudslinging and they head back to the Saxon hall, laughing.

Starting at 10am, with a squash and biscuit break and an hour for lunch, the daubing is done by teatime. I’m stiff and covered in dried mud, but I feel fantastic. I can say ‘I did that’ next time I see those bits of wall. I’m seriously considering creating my own garden roundhouse now…

Daubed! The new roundhouse

If you’d like to volunteer or take one of the courses offered at the farm, see

Anniversary sees former site of A3 at Hindhead recognised as a wildlife haven

The Devil’s Punch Bowl, once separated from Hindhead Common by the A3, has become one of the top wildlife sites in south east England.  The huge improvements to the area in recent years are the result of the creation of the Hindhead Tunnel by Highways England, which has enabled the site to regenerate, and hard work by the National Trust, supported by Natural England.
Hindhead Tunnel
The Devil’s Punch Bowl, once separated from Hindhead Common by the A3, has become one of the top wildlife sites in south east England. 
Picture by Alan Stanford/Stella Pictures Ltd 

Six years on from the opening of the tunnel, which saw the restoration of  this Surrey Hills nationally protected landscape, management techniques set out under Higher Level Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship have also seen the restoration of fragile and endangered historic heathland habitat, and the return of rare and diverse breeding birds such as woodlark and nightjar.
The nationally scarce heath tiger beetle has been sighted, and conditions are now favourable for the return of the silver studded blue butterfly. The Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has now been assessed by Natural England as meeting its nature conservation targets, and is considered to be in favourable condition. 
Wildlife flourishing. Pictures by Alan Stanford/Stella Pictures Ltd 

It’s not only the removal of the A3 which has made Hindhead and the Devil’s Punch Bowl so special. The SSSI is one of the highest points in southern England.  Just under 1,000 feet above sea level, the relatively cool, humid climate of this ‘lowland’ heathland contains species normally associated with more upland sites such as bilberry, and trees festooned with lichens and mosses. The mosaic of habitats found on site include upland and lowland heath, bog, streams, ancient woodland, and free draining sandy soil, making the site challenging to manage.
Matt Cusack, Lead Ranger for the National Trust said: “I am thrilled we’ve achieved favourable status for Hindhead and the Punch Bowl during my watch. The removal of the A3 in July 2011 was a major milestone, enabling us to thin trees and transform the site into a swathe of heathland.  But the site has been under a Higher Level Stewardship agreement since 2008.  Heather mowing, the introduction of woodlark nesting areas, grazing and scrub management conducted under the scheme has transformed it.  This couldn’t have been achieved without the support of my team and Hindhead’s dedicated local volunteers.”
Transformation of the SSSI and the restoration of the landscape within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have also boosted visitor numbers, up 20% from 2011 to approximately 700,000 per year, with visitors now choosing to spend longer exploring the stunning heathland and views. 

New paths created by Matt Cusack and his team offer walks for differing abilities around the Devil’s Punch Bowl, enabling visitors to enjoy the tranquillity of the site while avoiding wildlife disturbance on sensitive heathland areas.
Graham Steven, Conservation Advisor for Natural England said: “Matt and his team at the National Trust have done a fantastic job at taking on board actions needed to achieve favourable status.  They have balanced the needs of different habitats to create a haven for the endangered species that live here such as Dartford warbler, woodlark and nightjar.  The success achieved at Hindhead and the Devil’s Punch Bowl demonstrates what can be achieved when we work in partnership to balance the needs of people and wildlife.” 
Henry Penner, Senior Environmental Advisor with Highways England said: “The Hindhead Tunnel is a ground-breaking piece of engineering and shows how, by working together, we can deliver a road network fit for the 21st century in a way that not only protects but enhances the environment.  
“The tunnel is the longest of its type in the UK.  The old A3 around the Devil’s Punch Bowl was filled in using sandstone excavated from the tunnel and a mix of seeds to match the surrounding environment. I am delighted that six years on it has been recognised for playing its part in the wildlife success of the Devil’s Punch Bowl SSSI, and recognise the excellent work that Natural England and the National Trust have done to protect and enhance this special place for the country.” 
Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Director added:
“The Hindhead Tunnel scheme was the largest landscape restoration project in any National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is wonderful to see that the vision of reuniting the commons and enhancing the heathland habitat has proved so successful.”

CPRE Countryside Awards shortlist announced

CPRE Hampshire has announced who has made the shortlist in this year’s Countryside Awards, which has seen a record number of entries. Now in their 11th year, the county branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England run the awards to recognise and celebrate those working for a beautiful and thriving Hampshire countryside for everyone to value and enjoy.

The Countryside Awards scheme is made possible thanks to sponsorship by The Southern Co-operative (lead and Community and Voluntary category sponsor), Steve’s Leaves (Young People), Hildon (Rural Enterprise) and Hastoe (Sustainable Buildings).

Twenty-one projects are shortlisted and, by local area and award category, they are:

East Hampshire and Winchester District: 

Community and Voluntary

  • First Bite Community Café, Winchester

Young People

  • Forest School at Woodlea Primary, Bordon
  • Kindling Forest School and Parent & Toddler sessions, Twyford
  • Woodland Area at Kings Worthy Primary School, Winchester

Rural Enterprise

  • Two Hoots Shepherds Huts, Two Hoots Campsite, Bighton
  • Holden Farm Camping, Holden Farm, Cheriton
  • Blackwood Forest, Forest Holidays, Winchester

 Sustainable Buildings

  • Wessex Learning Centre, Winchester – Hampshire County Council Architects

New Forest:

 Community and Voluntary

  • HEG – Hordle Environment Group, Lymington
  • The New Forest Smooth Snake Survey, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (ARC)

 Young People

  • Patrick’s Patch, Fairweather’s Garden Centre, Beaulieu

 Rural Enterprise

  • Poppy Pods Project, Tile Barn Centre, Brockenhurst

Sustainable Buildings

  • Forest Lodge, Brook – PAD Studio
  • Addison Road and The Larch Hut, Brockenhurst – Arboreal Architecture

South Hampshire:

Community and Voluntary

  • Milton’s Hidden Seashore, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
  • Community Roots, Southampton Voluntary Services

 Young People

  • Outdoor Learning Project, Ruth Butler Architects & St John’s Primary School, Rowlands Castle
  • Food Discovery, Bassett Green Primary School, Country Trust
  • Putting the Fare into Fareham, Wicor Primary School, Portchester

 Sustainable Buildings

  • Hampshire Passivhaus, Emsworth – Ruth Butler Architects

Test Valley:

 Sustainable Buildings

  • Mottisfont Abbey Visitor Facilities – Burd Haward Architects

Awards judges are visiting the shortlisted projects over the summer. The winners will be announced by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire at the awards ceremony on September 19 at Littleton Millennium Memorial Hall near Winchester.


Statue of Jane Austen placed today, 200 years since her death

A life-size bronze of Jane Austen is to be placed in the Market Square in Basingstoke to mark 200 years since the author’s death.

Today is the bicentenary of the death of Jane Austen, and all across Hampshire people are celebrating her life and legacy.

Adam Roud has been commissioned to create the sculpture, which he hopes will represent Jane not only as a writer, but also as a strong-willed and independent character in her own right.

Jane was born in 1775 in Steventon, just a few miles outside Basingstoke, where she lived for more than half her life. The places, people and landscapes of the borough had an enormous influence on her novels, and she created the first draft of Pride and Prejudice whilst living at Steventon, where her father was vicar of St Nicholas Church. Jane Austen knew Basingstoke well: she attended social gatherings at the Assembly Rooms in Market Square, near the current-day Lloyds Bank, and regularly visited family friends at the Vyne, Oakley Hall and Ashe House, amongst others.

Many events will be part of Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Jane Austen 200 project. For up to date information on events visit

Flamingo babies for first time at Birdworld

The keeping team at Birdworld situated near Farnham, Surrey are delighted to announce that the park’s flamboyance of Greater Flamingos has successfully hatched chicks for the first time in the park’s history.

The chicks, which have been carefully monitored by Birdworld’s dedicated keeping staff since laid as eggs earlier this year, are now finding their feet and exploring the world around them as their parents keep a close, protective watch on their progress.

The newly-hatched chicks have grey or white down feathers and a straight red bill. They will lose their juvenile grey or white colour gradually over a two to three-year period, at which time their pink feathers begin to show.

Birdworld received the flock of 25 Greater Flamingos from Durrell Zoo in Jersey and opened the purpose-built Flamingo Cove exhibit in May 2015, to house the colourful birds. In 2016, Birdworld welcomed a further three adult birds from WWT Slimbridge, boosting the flock’s numbers to 28.  The delightful walk-through enclosure features natural planting, a running water stream and plenty of space to provide a healthy environment for all its occupants in surroundings that reflect their habitat in the wild.

Duncan Bolton, Birdworld Curator, said: “We are very happy that our flock of Greater Flamingos are successfully breeding and hatching chicks this year, the first time in Birdworld’s 49-year history. The flock came to us around two years ago and we are very pleased with the progress they have made since arriving. The nesting activity is a sure sign that the group are settled and comfortable in the enclosure. We hope that visitors to the park will enjoy seeing the chicks grow throughout the summer  and beyond.”

Already one of the largest bird parks in the country, the landscaped park and gardens at Birdworld are home to over 800 birds and 180 species from around the world. The park also is home to the Underwater World aquarium and the Jenny Wren Farm.

For more information about Birdworld, visit: or call 01420 22992.

Greater Flamingo chicks at Birdworld. Photos – Colin McKenzie

Great Flamingo fact file:

  • The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the largest of all flamingo species.
  • During the colder times of the year, many of the Great Flamingos in Asia migrate to warmer climates.
  • The male Great Flamingos can be up to 61 inches tall which is more than many humans. They only weigh about 8 pounds which is extremely light for an animal that is so tall!
  • The curve of their neck is very flexible due to the many vertebrae found there. They also feed with their head upside down in the water. You will notice their black beak has a very unique design to it.
  • The pink colouring for their bodies comes from the crustaceans that they consume as a big part of their diet.
  • Their mating habits are consistent with those of other species of Flamingos. If they don’t get enough food to eat they will lose the pigmentation and their feathers will only be white. They also won’t engage in mating at all if they don’t have enough food to survive on themselves.
  • They communicate vocally with a type of honking that is very similar to the sounds that geese make.
  • The oldest Greater Flamingo in the world is found in a zoo located in Australia. He is at least 77 years old, but the exact age isn’t known.
  • The younger birds don’t get the pigmentation until they are at least three years of age.

Petersfield Arts and Crafts exhibition opens August 23

The PACS annual art and crafts exhibition will fill the Festival Hall will take place August 23-28.

Petersfield Arts and Crafts Society was founded in 1934 when Lady Margaret Nicholson became the first president. Among the founder members was well known local artist Flora Twort along with a group of distinguished local artists and craftspeople.

PACS has 300 members from Petersfield and the surrounding area. Members include professional artists as well as people who have discovered their creative side very recently, from painters and illustrators to woodturners, jewellery makers, potters and textile artists.

Throughout the year PACS has monthly meetings and Saturday workshops. These are open to both members and non-members.

PACS exhibition will be open August 23-28 10am-6pm;  Friday, August 25, 10am-8pm.

See to find out more.


PACS exhibition, Festival Hall, Petersfield