• Cranborne Chase AONB, Shears Building, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, BH21 1HB  Tel: 01725 517417
Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of the nation’s finest landscapes. At 981 square kilometres it is the sixth largest of 46 AONBs in the country.
The immense historic and biodiversity riches in this nationally protected area are held in high esteem by local communities and visitors alike

A boundary walk that will bring to life historic intrigue and hidden gems

Shire WalkTHE County Boundary Research Group will lead two fascinating fact-finding walks along Shire Rack, the Dorset/Wiltshire border path, on Wednesday 6 June.

The two walks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon of approximately three hours each, will take place between Garston Wood and Shermel Gate, along the footpath which follows the boundary. Learn about legends, historical intrigue and the hidden gems of the area.

Facts relating to the history of the boundary pointed out during this memorable day will include its ‘registration’ in Anglo-Saxon charters. These provide a list of boundary features found along its course in AD955-6 and the walks will follow in the footsteps of those 10th century land surveyors.

Centuries of management will also be looked at, including large veteran tree stools, rows of coppiced hazels and, where the Bowerchalke road crosses the boundary on the edge of Garston Wood, a huge Whitebeam, which may have been planted as a marker tree. Here you can find elements of a former funnel-shaped entrance relating to the driving of livestock over the border. A similar feature can be found at Shermel Gate.

The word shermel betrays the existence of a one-time tall wayside border cross, a shire mael — the signposts of an earlier world. Depending on which walk you attend, you may also be able to explore the overgrown micel burh ‘big fort’ or today’s Mistleberry Camp, which is understood to be an unfinished hill fort.

To register your interest, email: rogergoulding@cranbornechase.org.uk. Don’t delay — places are strictly limited to 20 on each walk and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. The terrain is slightly undulating and unsuitable for wheelchairs. Sturdy footwear is recommended. Please bring your own refreshments – a packed lunch for the first walk and something for afternoon tea for the second. A free minibus will be provided. Park at the far end of the Sixpenny Handley Village Hall carpark where a bus will meet you and also drop you off at the end of the walk. Further timing details will be emailed to those who have signed up.

•    On Sunday 17 June, a guided walk will take place in Stratford Tony and Throope Down to view the butterflies, flowers and other wildlife of these two impressive areas of chalk grassland in south Wiltshire. Species identification and downland ecology will also be covered during the day.

The walk, with the morning spent at Stratford Tony and the afternoon at Throope Down, is being led by the Wiltshire branch of Butterfly Conservation in conjunction with the Cranborne Chase and Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Bring a packed lunch if you intend staying for the afternoon visit to Throope Down.

Contact Nigel Spring, tel: 07981776 767; email: nigelspring@yahoo.co.uk.


Spectacular private AONB estates open their gates for horse riders

Arc rideA NEW charity pleasure ride on 29 April will run across the spectacular landscape of the Cranborne Chase AONB and through areas not normally accessible to horse riders or members of the public. The aim of this unique ride, which is being sponsored by equine nutrition supplier TopSpec, is to raise funds for charity.

Riders will be able to walk, trot and canter across the Ashcombe, Rushmore and Chettle estates, which is private land that once formed a part of King John’s hunting ground.

There will be three routes for all abilities. A 5k route is available for anyone on the lead rein or wanting a short ride. The 18k route will allow riders to take in a wide sweep of the beautiful Cranborne Chase AONB, while the 25k ride will bring the opportunity to see the three historic houses of Ashcombe, Rushmore and Chettle. For those wanting to tackle a longer distance than the three stated, they can combine all three routes. The majority of the rides will be off road, with all gates and road crossings having marshals in attendance.

Entry fees per rider are £10 for the 5k route, £20 for the 18k route and £25 for the 25k route. Fees include the costs of first aid and a raffle ticket, with the raffle boasting some fabulous prizes, including tickets to Olympia and the Horse of the Year Show, first aid supplies from Robinson Animal Health Care and a Brass Tacks voucher for an engraved nameplate, plus goodies from the sponsor, TopSpec.

For riders wishing to travel the day before, a campsite and field for corals will be on offer. There will be a food tent with homemade goodies, bacon sandwiches, soups, tea and coffee, plus plenty of on site water for horses.

Katy Mickle of TopSpec said: “We are delighted to support such a great event and hope that all riders and their horses have an enjoyable day while raising money for such great causes.”

The Parochial Church Council of St Peters Church in Tollard Royal came up with the idea of starting a charity horse ride. The focus was put firmly on the amazing countryside in which the three churches of Farnham, Chettle and Tollard Royal are located. Funds are being raised for these churches as well as for Dorset Air Ambulance and Wilton Riding for the Disabled.

The community hopes to make ARC Ride an annual event on the last Sunday of April.

For more information visit www.arcride.co.uk


Why dark night skies are essential for all

Stars“IT is the enormity of the sky that is so amazing in the Cranborne Chase AONB,” said Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Waste at Wiltshire Council. Bridget was opening a special seminar, hosted by the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Dinton Village Hall on Tuesday 20 March, which focussed on the multiple benefits of dark night skies. These include improvements to human health, for example better sleep and wellbeing, better conditions for wildlife, which can be detrimentally affected by too much light at night, as well as turning the area into a magnet for tourists, thus creating benefits for local businesses.  

The Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is currently applying to become a prestigious International Dark Sky Reserve - if successful it would only be the 13th such area in the world.

Speakers at the seminar included Duncan Wise, Visitor Development & Marketing Manager for Northumberland National Park Authority and the lead officer on the joint collaboration with Kielder Water & Forest Park which secured International Dark Sky Park (Gold Tier) status. Gaining Dark Sky Park status in 2013 was, said Duncan, “a game changer for rural tourism in Northumberland”, while the Kielder Observatory continues to see record numbers of visitors since the designation. Visitors making a beeline to attractions in the region are up 63% and the Park has seen a huge spike in tourism in the previously quieter winter months.

On the flip side, according to Duncan, wasted light in the UK costs an estimated £1bn. “The good news is that light pollution is reversible,” he noted. Improving lighting isn’t a case of turning everything off, but “ensuring that all outdoor lights are not too bright – avoid the piercing blue-white LED lights and go for warmer white LEDs – and that they are fully shielded – so they shine downwards and avoid upward glare”.

Malcolm Mackness, a lighting expert, told the audience to confine lighting to the areas where it is needed, switch off when appropriate, control the light by a timer or detector and provide enough for the task but don’t over-light. He noted that lighting pointing across yards and sports fields can be among the worst polluters.

Linda Nunn, Director of the AONB, told the audience that the Cranborne Chase AONB is one of the darkest places in England. “But while the road to Reserve status is going well – for example we have run many audience engagement dark sky events, such as funding the popular Space Detectives to visit primary schools – the compliance of domestic and business external lighting is currently low and something we are trying to address. Please help us. You can also assist us by signing our Dark Sky Pledge [http://www.chasingstars.org.uk/get-involved/sign-our-dark-skies-pledge.html]. Helping people to enjoy our dark skies even more will be for the benefit of all.”


Map of Australia badge next in line for restoration

MapFOLLOWING the restoration of the First World War Royal Warwickshire badge by the Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust last year, the nearby Map of Australia badge could soon undergo a similar treatment thanks to the Map of Australia Trust, set up in 2017 by a small group of volunteers with the aim of restoring the badge.

The badge has the legend AUSTRALIA running through its centre and it was created in 1917 by Australian soldiers staying at Hurdcott Camp, one of a series of training camps set up in the area. They cut it into the hillside near the village of Compton Chamberlayne, Wiltshire. 

The trust has been working closely with the landowner and Historic England as the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The badge has not been maintained since 2005 and is now grassed over to such an extent that it is no longer visible. The Map of Australia was a new entry on the Heritage at Risk register published last October. 

Ground and drone surveys have recently been completed and the trust hopes to start the restoration shortly. The plan is for the work to be completed by hand, using volunteer labour, just like the soldiers did 100 years ago.

Anyone wishing to get involved should email ww1australiamap@gmail.com. You can follow progress on Twitter @ww1australiamap or on Facebook - search Map of Australia Trust.

Given that the Map of Australia and the Shiny 7th are awaiting renovation, that leaves just one of the 12 badges still to be renovated - the YMCA.


New App will help to track ancient animals in Cranborne Chase, Britain and beyond

AppFEW of the animals that we see around us today are ‘native’. Many that used to exist have been brought to extinction and, in their place, others have been introduced. Very little is known about the timing, circumstances and impact of these introductions and extinctions, but there is evidence all around us. When you begin to look, ancient animals are everywhere: in architecture, paintings and even pub signs; in objects that depict them or they are made of their bones, antler/horn or skins. There are even the remains of the animals themselves, unearthed from archaeological excavations. 

If it was possible to gather together and track all of these representations researchers could begin to understand when particular species start, or stop, being represented and in what kinds of contexts. To achieve this, a new Ancient Animals app has been developed and researchers at Exeter University are calling on individuals and local groups to help record representations of ancient animals.

The Ancient Animals App has launched already for Android phones (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.natural_apptitude.ancientanimals) and will shortly be available for iOS (search Ancient Animals on the store). It provides a guide detailing current knowledge about the animals under study and where their representations might be found. It allows contributors to submit photographs of ancient animal representations (ie, 2-D painting, 3-D sculpture, physical remains, object/artefact or other). These can be taken in real-time and instantly geolocated or uploaded from camera rolls with geolocation data added manually.

The records will help to generate a new natural and cultural history for the mammals of Britain, Europe and beyond.

“We would love to see a comprehensive survey of all the ancient animals represented within the Cranborne Chase AONB,” said Naomi Sykes, who is leading the project. “So we are asking people to get out this spring with their phones after downloading the app and go on a real Easter hunt.”

For more information, contact Naomi Sykes, email: n.sykes@exeter.ac.uk.


Melbury Abbas crowd funds to take back traffic control

MelburyTHE residents of Melbury Abbas are fundraising via the website CrowdJustice as part of a plan to challenge the decision by Dorset County Council which directs HGVs through the village. The residents are seeking to challenge the council’s decision through the courts in an attempt to halt the frequent traffic jams caused by large vehicles negotiating the narrow lanes.

So far, £2,530 has been pledged, which is still short of the £5,000 target.

On the page (https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/savemelburyabbas/), William Kenealy, Chairman of the Melbury & Cann Parish Council, has written: “Melbury Abbas and Cann Group Parish Council is seeking to achieve a sensible traffic management system that keeps vehicles above 7.5 tonnes out of one of England's historic villages and away from the vulnerable ancient holloway.

“We have already raised the funds for launching the claim in the High Court. However, we have not yet raised the funds for taking the case forward to the permission stage and (we hope) on to trial. We will also be at risk of adverse costs if Dorset County Council is successful against us. We estimate that we need to raise a further £5,000 to cover these costs and cost risks going forward.”


Know Your Place makes tithe maps available to all

Tythe mapsTHE tithe maps of the Wiltshire and Somerset segments of the Cranborne Chase AONB are now available to view on Know Your Place, a digital heritage mapping resource (www.kypwest.org.uk). The website enables people to look at their local community and see how it has changed over time from the 1840s to 2016.

Know Your Place helps people to explore their neighbourhood online through historic maps, collections and linked information, providing unprecedented online access to a range of historic data. Users can also add information about their local area, building a rich and diverse community map of local heritage for everyone. It is a free resource and anyone can add to the map.

Know Your Place – West of England was a project that ran from June 2015 to July 2017 to expand coverage from Bristol to Bath & North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.


Chalke Valley History Festival will celebrate local ‘heroes’

CVHFTHIS year the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival (25 June-1 July) will be celebrating its ‘Chalke Valley History Heroes’. In the past the Chalke Valley has been home to some notable local figures and, to shine a light on their extraordinary lives, there will be a series of inspiring talks about the antiquarian and historian John Aubrey, photographer and designer Cecil Beaton, authors Terry Pratchett and William Golding, artist Henry Lamb and former Prime Minister Anthony Eden. There will be a recreation of Terry Pratchett’s extraordinary writing office in a new special exhibition called ‘The Shed of Doom’ and, on the Sunday morning, courtesy of the Discworld Conjuror’s Guild, the Festival will be welcoming the award-winning Time-Travelling Magicians Morgan & West.

Offering a unique blend of talks, discussions and topical debates, alongside a vast living history through-the-ages encampment and spectacular air displays, the Chalke Valley History Festival is the biggest annual celebration of history in the land and an opportunity to learn about the past, whatever age you are.

As 2018 marks the centenaries of women being granted the vote and the end of the First World War, the Festival will commemorate both of these historic events. It is also 100 years since the birth of the RAF and, not only will the Festival be hosting a special morning on the subject, but there will also be a number of static displays, including a Spitfire with a Merlin engine that will roar into life.

This summer the new ‘Live History Live’ programme – a series of some 50 events over the weekend – will offer visitors the chance to see, touch and feel history first hand. Free for all those already attending the Festival, each event will be presented by a leading historian who will be adding context to the specialist knowledge offered by expert living historians, who will be demonstrating a wide and fascinating range of activities, from historic cookery to surgery, using techniques and materials from the past. Among those already signed up to front these exciting ‘Live History Live’ events, as well as participating in the main literary programme, are: Ben Kane, Dan Jones, Alex Langlands, and Helen Castor.

As in previous years, there will be a distinguished line-up of historians and commentators speaking at the Festival. Well-known names already confirmed include: Simon Schama, Robert Peston, Tracy Borman, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Michael Dobbs, Fiona Carnarvon, Rana Mitter, Kate Mosse, Tony Robinson, Nicholas Coleridge, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Sarah Churchwell, Gordon Corera and Charles Spencer. Flying in to talk about ‘Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Imagination,’ will be acclaimed Harvard Academic Professor Annette Gordon-Reed, and delivering the first ‘CVHF Directors’ Lecture’ will be Professor Ali Ansari from St Andrew’s University.

The full programme will be announced in due course. Tickets go on sale on 25 April. For further information, visit www.cvhf.org.uk.


The Arts Society Nadder Valley group set up

Arts SocietyNADDER Valley has become the latest The Arts Society to be set up. It joins around 360 member societies in the UK and mainland Europe. Launching in April, the society has created a programme of nine educational, entertaining and informative lectures, each one an hour long. Held at the Nadder Centre, Tisbury, subjects coming up include Red, White and Blue – a Story of Three Colours in Art and Domes and Minarets: Mosques of the Islamic World.

Future activities are likely to include educational visits and cultural holidays.

The Arts Society has a strong record across the UK for volunteering in heritage, young arts, church recording and children’s trails. Anyone interested in developing any of these extra activities should get in touch, as help is needed. Call Sean Moran, the chairman, tel: 07929 609604; email: naddervalley@theartssociety.org.

There is currently a waiting list to join The Arts Society Nadder Valley. To be added to the list, email: membersnaddervalley@theartssociety.org including your name, address and contact details.


Natural environment should be at the heart of planning, says The Wildlife Trusts

HomesTHE Wildlife Trusts has published guidelines to show how new housing developments can be built in a way that provides people with greener, inspirational homes which help to reverse decades of wildlife and habitat decline. 

The Wildlife Trusts believes that the natural environment must be put at the heart of planning in order to give the government a chance of meeting its commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it was found in, and to build new homes and communities that people enjoy living in.
‘Homes for people and wildlife - how to build housing in a nature-friendly way’ has been published at a time when the Government has recently committed to building a further 300,000 homes a year until 2022.

Rachel Hackett, Living Landscapes Development Manager for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “A huge challenge lies ahead – thousands of new houses are to be built yet we need to restore the natural world. We’re calling on the government and local authorities to build beautiful, nature-friendly communities in the right places. Over the past century we have lost natural habitats on an unprecedented scale. Yet nature has its own innate value. It also makes us happy and we depend on the things that it gives us. Our new guidelines show that it’s possible to have both, so people can enjoy birdsong, reap the benefits of raingardens which soak up floodwater, and plants that bees and other pollinators need to survive. With good design the costs of doing this are a tiny proportion of the overall cost of a housing development, but represent a big investment for the future.”

The Wildlife Trusts’ blueprint for new nature-friendly homes highlights the myriad social, environmental and economic benefits of this approach:

  • Benefits for wildlife – better protection for wildlife sites, more space for wildlife, improved connectivity and buildings that are more wildlife-friendly
  • Benefits for residents – daily contact with nature, improved health, protection against climate extremes, safer transport routes, good sense of community
  • Benefits for the economy and wider society – cost-effective environmental protection, employment, space to grow local food, healthier and happier communities putting less pressure on health and social services
  • Benefits for developers – satisfied customers, market value, enhanced brand, improved recruitment, improved environmental ranking
  • Homes for people and wildlife - how to build housing in a nature-friendly way can be downloaded at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/homes_for_people_and_wildlife_lr_-_spreads.pdf


Campaign launches to uncover England’s forgotten memorials

CampaignDO you know of a secret, unknown or long forgotten memorial in Cranborne Chase AONB? If so Historic England (HE) would like to hear from you. The organisation is asking the public to share their knowledge of England’s ‘lost’ memorials, with the hunt forming part of Immortalised, a campaign launched by HE to help people explore the country’s memorial landscape.

England is full of secret, unknown and forgotten memorials from the heroic and sad, to the quirky, inspirational and challenging. They are often poignant reminders of well-loved lives lost. There are imposing monuments to the grand and famous all over the country, but HE is seeking photographs and information about England's lesser-known memorials, or those that are well-loved by local communities but unknown nationally.

HE also wants to know about rituals and activities attached to memorials that keep their stories alive. Each year, flowers are left at the Alan Turing statue in Manchester on his birthday, for example. Do you know of others?

The best stories and pictures HE receives will be included in its  'Immortalised' exhibition in the autumn. Some of the community memorials revealed may also be considered for listing, to protect and champion what is special about them.

For more information, visit https://historicengland.org.uk/get-involved/help-write-history/help-find-englands-secret-unknown-forgotten-memorials/


South Today presenter opens Martin Community Shop

Martin shopROGER Finn, of BBC South Today, was on hand to cut the ribbon at the grand re-opening of Martin Community Shop last month. The celebration marked the opening of the newly extended shop. The shop, which is entirely run by volunteers, was originally opened in 2010 in a tiny room in the village hall building in Martin. Since then, the business has grown, meaning that more space was needed to accommodate the range of produce on sale. After months of fundraising, involving coffee mornings, lunches and raffles, as well as funding from Hampshire County Council and New Forest LEADER, the work to extend the shop has finally been completed.


Treasures of the Chase

Maiden Bradley’s water trough

Water troughEvery month we bring you treasures from Cranborne Chase from Angela Rawson’s picture of the AONB’s many fascinating landmarks. This month we look at Maiden Bradley’s well/water trough

MAIDEN Bradley in Wiltshire possesses a town well marked by an impressive drinking trough on which an inscription reads: Erected by Algernon, 14th Duke of Somerset, 1891. The well is located in the garden of 55 The Rank. There was once an entrance to it to allow villagers access to water, but it was closed during World War II. The well was in use until 1900 when Maiden Bradley had its own water supply installed. The impressive trough boasts another inscription which reads Drink travellers drink of Bradley's purest rill, Which strange to say runs quite a mile up hill. Then to your panting steeds let all attend, An honest horse is surely Man's best friend.


Great history or wildlife project idea?

lp AREATHE Cranborne Chase & Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership (LP), a five-year Heritage Lottery funded scheme aimed at supporting activities which conserve or enhance the cultural and natural heritage of the area, or helping people to understand and appreciate its special qualities, aims to support myriad history and wildlife projects. It is now waiting to hear from people within the Partnership area with great ideas. So whether a community would like to enrich the flora along its verges, restore a village pond, develop a star-gazing point or set up a hedgehog survey, the Landscape Partnership team would love to hear from them. For more information, contact Roger Goulding, Landscape Partnership Development Officer; tel: 01725 517417; email: rogergoulding@cranbornechase.org.uk. A map of the Cranborne Chase & Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership area can also be found at http://www.cccvlps.org.uk/


Seeking myth and legend in Cranborne Chase

MythTHE team at the Cranborne Chase AONB is seeking stories of myth and legend. Does your village have a ghostly highwayman or is your local pub said to be haunted? If so please tell us about it. The best myths and legends will eventually appear on our website. Please send your stories to julieharding@cranbornechase.org.uk.


Have you got news for us?

PaperDO you live within the Cranborne Chase AONB and have a story that you would like to promote to the wider community? We would love to hear about your events, projects, thriving rural businesses, etc, which we may not only publicise in this monthly E-newsletter, but also on our website and to the wider press if the story merits it. The more wonderful newsworthy items we can relate, the more we will raise our profile and the more people will come and visit. If you have a story to tell, please get in touch. Email: JulieHarding@cranbornechase.org.uk.