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, 27 April 2011


It's been a fantastic Easter at Attingham - sun, sun and more sun! The childrens trails have been hugely popular, there have been rides around the deer park in the tractor and trailer and guided walks around the park and gardens. The bluebells are out in their full glory - the picture above is of Rookery Wood with the path that leads from the Stables down to the Mansion.

The last week has seen the wardens embarking on a large fencing project on some of the fields that we look after along the banks of the River Severn. We are using sweet chestnut posts instead of treated softwoods as they are naturally hard and long-lasting without any chemicals. We have also been stacking wood that was felled over the winter to thin out overcrowded woodland so that it can season and be processed into firewood. It's hard work in this heat! But working outside in the fresh air and feeling the sun on your arms and watching the flora and fauna around you come to life is why this job is so brilliant.

Cowslips in the Outer Courtyard at the back of the Mansion

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Working holiday

This week a working holiday has been taking place in the deer park. The National Trust runs these holidays throughout the year at properties all over the country as an opportunity for people to work on projects alongside wardens and gardeners, experience new places, learn new skills and make friends. My interest in wardening was sparked off by my taking part on working holidays for several years so you never know where they could take you!

Anyway, this week's group have been replacing sections of fence in the deer park where the old posts have become rotten in the base. It's essential that we keep the deer park in good nick as the deer have been here for a long time and we would hate to lose them! The team were led by Mark Sayfritz, a regular contractor at Attingham who has plenty of experience in fencing, and assisted by myself. They have put in a fantastic effort and worked hard all week - lots of digging, hammering and driving in the posts with a drivall. This fence will hold up for several decades before it needs replacing again, so thank you very much guys!

How do you know if the hole is deep enough for the post?
Stick Fiona in of course!
Working holiday leader Elizabeth keeps
the fence posts straight and tidy

Everyone gets to improve on their
hammering skills


Pip the dog enjoys plenty of attention!


A good sturdy stretch of deer fence - six feet high to keep
the fallow herd in and everything else out!

On Wednesday, while the holiday team enjoyed a much-earned day off to explore the local area, I took a small team of volunteers to Wheathill Farm on the edge of the Estate to plant up two Black Poplar trees. Wild black poplar are becoming increasingly rare in the UK so we had a male and female tree to plant near our only other mature black poplar in the hope that they will grow and pollinate and produce us some 'babies' to plant in the future. Before we could plant them I cleared several large willows to create space and a break in the tree canopy to let light through to the young trees while the others burned the brash.

The poplars are planted next to the only other black poplar on the Estate (tree on right)
Matt, Adam and Bob after a long day of cutting and burning brash

Thursday, 7 April 2011

More bluebells...

Today Clive, one of our buggy-driver volunteers, kindly pointed out a clump of bluebells that are now in flower in Rookery wood:
I think this beautiful weather is encouraging them out early - roll on the Easter holidays!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


The first bluebell of the season

Sorry for the lack of activity lately folks, I have been off work with a virus. Back on track now though, and happy to have lots to update - starting with my favourite wildflower. Today, aroung 4.15pm, I found the first bluebell of the season out in flower near the clock tower at the back of the mansion. It's looking a bit lonely at the moment but its here, and there will be thousands more to follow! In a few more weeks, Attingham will be carpeted in blue - Rookery Wood (between the stables and the tea room), the Mile Walk and the woods between the suspension bridge and the Deer Park are all spots around the park with fantastic displays of bluebells. Ron, our Engagement Warden, will be giving guided walks later on in April to show visitors some of the best views. I have alerted the National Trust 'Bluebell Watch' and am now eagerly awaiting the rest of the flowers to come.

Other wildflowers are also making an appearance now, including these snake's head fritillaries and oxlips on the bank near the clock tower:

Snake's head fritillary - unmistakable with its purple
chessboard patterning

A white variation of the snake's head fritillary


The horse chestnuts are in leaf
Across the park and estate tree buds are bursting into leaf and the cherries and blackthorn are blossoming. I love the vibrant greens of leaves when they are young, particularly those of horse chestnut before they darken with age and usually become marred with leaf blotch in summer time. Today, the air around the mansion was filled with the scent of freshly cut grass - a definite sign that winter is over!

Finally, several weeks ago Attingham was visited by a group of Trustees and the Director-General of the Trust, Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE. They enjoyed a tour of the walled garden and visited some of the rooms in the mansion that have been altered as part of the Attingham Re-discovered project. My manager very kindly took a photo for me on the day, so here they are with some of the senior management team:

The Director-General and Trustees join us at Attingham
for the day