Read about the life and work of the Attingham Wardens

Attingham Park is a National Trust property comprising of an 18th Century mansion set in a Repton landscape; the Park and wider Estate includes a deer park, walled garden, several miles of the rivers Severn and Tern, extensive farmland and woodlands.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Summer of Celebration begins

This week the wardens have been getting the park ready for the big Jubilee weekend along with the rest of the work tasks (fixing the deer park fence, mulching hedge plants, aftercare on newly laid hedges, hanging gates and giving special guided tours to benefactors of Attingham). On Saturday, the new half term childrens trail will open; on Sunday 3rd June we are hosting The Big Lunch - bring your picnic to Attingham and join in with the games and entertainment form our costumed guides. Monday 4th June will include a special showing of a bespoke animation by Aardman starring Wallace and Gromit, the chance to take part in an animation workshop and a fancy dress competition (theme - The Wrong Trousers!). Rumour has it some of the staff will be in special costumes too... Tuesday will be Trusty Tuesday Club with den building on the deer park. If the sun stays out it will be a fantastic week for the family to enjoy.

Lets hope she keeps the cygnets away from
the weir!
The first fawn has been born! Sarah spotted the newborn last weekend as she watched the herd and noticed that they were all staring at something in the nettles. Because a mother may abandon her fawn if it is touched by humans she stayed well away but was able to see it being licked by its mum and try to stand up. Fantastic! I'll keep my camera on me for the next few weeks and see if we can spot some more...

The deer are not the only ones expecting in the park at the moment. If you walk down to the bridges beyond the mansion you will see the swan on her nest on the other side of the river; I nearly fell over in fright when a pheasant exploded up beside me as I walked along and then saw her nest about two feet away from me; and the damselflies are breeding on several of the ponds. Volunteer Phil also found this casing from a dragonfly nymph - fascinating!

A pheasant nest
Dragonfly nymph casing
A female Banded Demoiselle
Finally, this week saw us saying goodbye to Becky, a Harper Adams student who has been working with us for nearly a year. She is getting married this week and then travelling for three months before heading back to university to complete her course. She has been a great asset to the team and will be sorely missed - good luck Becks!
A goodbye party at the Mytton and Mermaid with presents and chainsaw cake - thanks for
all your hard work Becky!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Attingham Park is looking fantastic! The bright sunshine and blue skies have brought the place alive - the trees are still vibrant with new leaves and there is an incredible display of buttercups as you come up the drive. No wonder there are so many photographers about. This week I have spotted azure damselflies and banded demoiselles so I will be spending my weekend hiding in vegetation near water trying to get some good pictures.

The copper beeches behind the mansion are
looking beautiful

A few weeks ago the outdoors department was lucky enough to have two new staff join us - Lisa and Duncan, our new Parkland Gardeners. They will be looking after the grounds and the park, getting it in tiptop condition and working with the engagement volunteers to create new guided walks and improve interpretation around the site. Watch this space!

Buttercup carpet!
The week so far has seen us mulching hedgerows, building bridges as part of a new walk, cutting and burning overgrown willow, helping the learning department to prepare for a big visit, chopping back spear thistles and building a new tree nursery complete with rabbit-proof fence. And its only Wednesday!
The clearings will allow a special bird survey
to be carried out along the river corridor

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Deer and damselflies

The Spring Fair in the walled garden went well last weekend, with Sunday being one of the busiest days so far this year - what a difference a bit of sunshine makes! On Tuesday the wardens split up the team with half clearing up from the fair - taking down the marquees and collecting up tables and chairs - and the others working in the deer park to build up an earth revetment near the river where some beehives will soon reside. While we were near the water we spotted a red damselfly amongst the nettles, the first one I've seen this year. Luckily it rested just long enough to get a close up picture. In the afternoon I took Jess and Becky to Betton Farm to hang some bird boxes for tenant farmer Richard. He has spotted some redstarts along the abandoned railway that runs through his land so we are hoping to encourage them by providing them with some specially designed nest boxes. They like a clear view out of the nest so the boxes are square with a low bar across the front rather than enclosed boxes with a small round entrance hole.

As I went past some bucks in the deer park on Thursday (doing that favourite Thursday job, emptying the dog bins) I noticed that many of them have their antlers growing back already - fuzzy-looking 'buttons' that mark the growth of new bone beneath the 'velvet' skin.Very few of them have their antlers now. In another month or so, the does will give birth so its an exciting time in the herd.

Jess recently found this antler in the park, probably one of last years - a great example of how nothing goes to waste in nature as lots of small mammals have had a gnaw on this one to extract the minerals.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Tadpole update

You may remember that several posts ago, I was pleased to have found a good amount of frogspawn in several places across the Park. I'm one of those people that has never grown out of loving tadpoles and watching them grow legs, so I was ecstatic today to see hundreds of happy tadpoles enjoying the sunshine in one of our ponds!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Spring Fair and a lot of benches!

The Walled Garden 5/5/12
The annual Spring Fair is this Sunday and Monday and I have spent a busy few days helping to prepare for it - putting up tents and marquees, moving tables and chairs, strimming the path and collecting some show pieces... The Fair will have a wide variety of plants and fruit trees for sale, from Attingham and other other producers, and stalls including Chicken Street, Shropshire Honey, Hope Organic Produce and the National Veg Society. The Walled Garden (where the Fair will be held)  is looking fantastic at the moment thanks to all the rain, the pigs are doing a great job of preparing the next quarter for production and the Greedy Pig (Attingham's latest food outlet) will be open for business so it should be a good day for all - there is even croquet on the Bee Lawn for any keen players!

This week I have also finished writing up the ever-exciting Attingham Bench Survey! Ok, so there are more interesting aspects of the job, but a regular check of all our seats and benches is necessary. A fascinating fact for you - not including the 100 chairs outside the Tea Room or the 40 outside the Carriage House Cafe, there are 102 seats across the park, gardens and around the mansion. I have sat, bounced, wiggled and wriggled on all of them to check for sturdiness and comfort, and looked over them to judge their appearance. Over the next few months we will be removing a couple of the older seats that have come to the end of their life, and looking to spruce up a few that need a lick of paint or a wipe over.

Oh and don't forget, from now to the end of September the park is open until 7pm!