Posts Tagged ‘Wightwick Manor’

Wightwick Workday

Sunday, September 21st, 10.15am. SSNTV meet in the car park at Wightwick Manor. The mission: a drastic “haircut” for the laurel hedge.

This is just the kind of large scale chopping that the group enjoy and we set to work with enthusiasm. There was barely time for gardener, Dan, to change his mind and opt for “a light trim”! Hopefully you can see from the photographs that the laurel hedge, which had been 8ft high, was reduced to 4-5ft. This job was long overdue. The outcome does look a little dramatic, but the laurel will benefit and show significant improvement during the next growing season.

...before, during and after....

…before, during and after….

Thank you to Dan. and all at Wightwick Manor, including the lovely people in Visitor Reception who supplied us with tea and biscuits. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, better work or a better location. We are looking forward to our next visit already.

PicMonkey Collage2

If you’d like to join us on a workday, we work every Sunday at different National Trust locations across the West Midlands. Pick a workday from our EVENTS page and CONTACT US. See you soon!

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July has been a busy month for SSNTV. We’ve partied and worked and met royalty….read on.

We started the month trying something new. It was the annual Garden Fete at Sunnycroft on Sunday 1st July, and help was needed…but we didn’t know what we’d be doing.

Fun and games at Sunnycroft

The Fete was a huge success and we put down our usual bowsaws and loppers in order to help out with various tasks including ticketing and running the Coconut Shy – who said we weren’t versatile?! We took the opportunity to munch a few cakes and have some fun too.

You might not have noticed a certain sporting event happening in the UK this year. Forget London 2012 Olympics, I’m talking about the lesser known (but no less spectacular) Jubilympics. This event was held by SSNTV on Saturday 7th July, the venue was Albrighton (Ed’s note: where else could it be?). This ‘Once In a Lifetime’ event surpassed all expectation. An ‘elite’ group of Jubilympians competed under the national flags of Kiribati, Nuara, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia (if you don’t know where these great sporting nations are, what do you think Google is for??). After a *cough* lengthy torch relay (down the garden and back), the Jubilympic flame was lit. Fierce competition ensued in such sports as the marathon, the pentathlon and the javelin. These were sports with a twist, the relay race may have involved straws and dried peas….

Judging of The Marathon

Lighting the Jubilympic flame

No rest for the athletes (Ed’s note: no recovery from their hangovers more like). Sunday 8th July was another first for SSNTV. We were helping out at the Wenlock Edge Half Marathon and Full Marathon. Organised by the National Trust as part of the the Much Wenlock Olympics, this off-road race was routed from Craven Arms to Much Wenlock via Wilderhope Manor. Fortunately we didn’t have to run, but we did have to leave our bowsaws at home again as we were marshalling the marathon route. The weeks building up to this event saw more than their fair share of rain so the ground was muddy and the weather forecast for the day was ‘more rain’. In fact it turned out to be a gloriously sunny day, but we hear that the ground was still muddy underfoot. The efforts of the runners was truly inspirational with phenomenal performances despite the tough conditions. Read more about the event here.

Much Wenlock Marathon medal

During the year we organise a number of working weekends. We often use the National Trust Mose Basecamp, on the Dudmaston estate, as accommodation. On Sunday 15th July we spent the day there giving the property and gardens a very late spring clean. We were rewarded for our efforts with a barbecue, supplied and cooked for us by Richard who works for the National Trust at Dudmaston. The Mose Basecamp and Cottage are available for hire, for groups and families – more details here.

Some of our group escape the Shropshire and Staffordshire boundary once a year. This years working holiday took place from Saturday 21st to Saturday 28th July. They head north to Northumberland, Cragside to be exact, where they work their little socks off all week with no time for fun. Or so I thought. It turns out that there is quite a lot of work done but there is also a bit of R&R in the form of trips to the seaside and the occasional pub or 3. They were in for a big surprise this year as their visit to the pub coincided with a visit to the same pub by HRH Prince Charles. Prince Charles is the President of the National Trust and he was interested to hear about the work of the group. He said he was “proud to be President”. Apparently the pub had brewed a special ale in honour of the visit – that is, the visit of Prince Charles, not the visit by SSNTV! The working holiday was enjoyed by all and they raced back down to Shropshire in time for the last workday of the month at Wightwick Manor.

HRH Prince Charles, President of the National Trust

While some of the group headed north, those left at home were making the most of a week of glorious sunshine. Neil led a workday by the lakeside at Dudmaston on Sunday 22nd July. The work involved path clearance and creating a drain across the path, fuelled by lemon polenta cake and whittington buttons (?).

Unconventional use of a National Trust wheelbarrow

The final workday of the month was at Wightwick Manor & Gardens on Sunday 29th July (read the story here). It was a fun day with plenty of hard work and ice cream!

Driveway after

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Main Drive (before)

Sunday 29 July 2012

It was a shock to the system to be asked to arrive at Wightwick Manor at 9am. But the reason soon became clear. A mammoth task – to cut down laurel hedges on the main drive between the House and the newly opened Manders’ Tearoom. Starting so early, and with an excellent turnout, we were soon making a difference, with one large hedge and a huge holly tree out of the way before the property opened to the public.

The ‘cuttings’ were cleared as they were cut, keeping the site as tidy as possible. They were dragged down the drive past the front door and thrown over a yew hedge. From there they were either loaded onto the trailer, or dragged down to the bonfire site where, by the end of the day everything had been cleared and burnt.

Once the roots have been dug out, turf will be laid and new beds will be developed. One possibility is that roses from Alfred Parson’s original design can be reintroduced.

Main Drive (after)

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Beccy Speight joins SSNTV at Wenlock Edge

The month began with a special visitor to Wenlock Edge on Sunday 1st April. Beccy Speight, Regional Director for the National Trust in the Midlands, joined us for a workday. The location was the old railway line. The weather was fine, the cake was good and Beckie got stuck in with the work, felling trees and clearing brash. I hear that Ron soon signed her up as an apprentice firestarter!

We continued work at the same site on Friday 6th April (Good Friday Bank Holiday). It was Laura’s turn to be firestarter, under Ron’s watchful eye. Verdict: uses too many matches, has a lot to learn before she is ‘black belt’ firestarter. Max the dog worked hard and was too tired to walk home so he commandeered Ron’s car (see photo below).

Max drives home after a hard days work at Wenlock

It’s possible that April 2012 will be remembered as being very wet and we got a full helping of rain on Monday 9th April (Easter Monday Bank Holiday), Dudmaston, where we worked with National Trust Ranger Mike Annis to work on tree and scrub clearance at the Big Pool Dam. It rained in the morning…it cleared for lunch…it rained in the afternoon. We had two fires going which helped to cheer things up, but it did get a bit muddy underfoot and it’s hard to stay cheerful when your waterproof trousers cease to be waterproof and a dog steals your jacket to  lie on (poor Matt). A feast of Easter Eggs boosted morale.

Max doesn't like damp ground. Matt's jacket proved to be just right for resting on

We just can’t get enough of  Wenlock Edge. Our next session was Sunday 15th April. A different site this time, at the footpath running along the edge of the old quarry. In sunshine, we worked on path clearance and fence repair. This is a popular walking path for locals and visitors to the area. Our job was to cut back the overgrowth at the edges of the path and repair the fence on the quarry edge, improving path access and safety. If you are ever in the area, I can highly recommend the walks in and around Much Wenlock and along Wenlock Edge.

Wenlock Edge, Matt

The weather for Sunday 22nd April didn’t look promising but SSNTV are never put off by the forecast and there was a good turnout of volunteers at Wightwick Manor & Gardens. The work for the day was in the bridge garden, which had become overgrown with laurel and other tall shrubs. There was once a productive fruit garden in this part of the property and in the future it is hoped to return the garden to its former glory. With luck, we avoided the rain as we worked. It did rain, monsoon style, at lunchtime but we managed to take cover in a marquee to eat lunch and wait for the skies to clear.


Morville...soggy workwear

We didn’t have any luck with the weather on Sunday 29th April. Our visit to Morville Hall was cold and wet. It was raining as we arrived…it rained all day….it was still raining at the end of the day. Unperturbed, a hardy group of SSNTVers joined Morville Hall tenants Chris and Sarah. We braved the wind and rain to work in the garden, carrying out a list of tidying and maintenance tasks in preparation for the annual open weekend at the property and surrounding gardens. The upside of rainy days at Morville is that we are allowed to eat our lunch in the Elizabethan hall – very grand indeed! We stopped work only when we couldn’t get any wetter. Chris and Sarah provided tea and cake. This was much appreciated at the end of this damp workday.

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Sunday 22nd April 2012

Working in the bridge garden today, cutting back laurel and holly overgrowth. As always, we were warmly welcomed by the staff at Wightwick. Lovely tea and cake in the Malthouse tearoom at the end of the day. Matt found a hollow log, henceforth known as ‘The Hole’, which was utilised as a photography prop.

Matt and The Hole

Ron, Andrew and Dan and The Hole

National Trust logo and The Hole

Shelley and The Hole

Cake and The Hole

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