News roundup from Cranborne Chase AONB (April 2017)

Remembering Cranborne Chase AONB's first chairman

Dick PottsDr Dick Potts, the first chairman of Cranborne Chase AONB whose tenure began in 2003 and ended in 2008, died on 30 March aged 78. A former director general of The Game Conservancy Trust, managing director of Game Conservancy Ltd and a true pioneer in the world of conservation, Dick, who was instrumental in the publication of the AONB’s First Management Plan in 2004, proved to be the ideal person to head up Cranborne Chase during a crucial period in its history.  

“Dick was hugely supportive, incredibly knowledgeable and a really innovative thinker who could transfer scientific results into practical land management. He always looked for tangible outcomes – he wanted to see real change,” said Linda Nunn, Cranborne Chase AONB director. “Working with him was incredible: he was hugely inspirational. Our multi-award winning South Wiltshire Farmland Bird project would not have come about without Dick. He was also endlessly supportive in the work that we did into game management. When he joined the partnership he brought with him the resources of The Game Conservancy Trust, including all their mapping expertise. All the maps in our First Management Plan were theirs and we still rely on these today.

“Dick’s view was that if the decline of wildlife and bird species wasn’t stopped, we would all end up with an aesthetically pleasing countryside, but one with no wildlife at all. However, Dick didn’t just talk about it, he did something about it and we – and the countryside - are still living with the ramifications of his incredible research and projects today,” continued Linda.  

“While Dick supported farmers and farming, he never stopped challenging agriculture to do better. He did the same with the AONB. His legacy in our landscape will live on. Dick was kind, friendly and good humoured. The natural world has truly lost a great friend.”

Farmland conservation project nets prestigious award

Tracy Adams wins awardTHE South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation Project, funded by Wessex Water, beat off strong competition in the category ‘Conservation Project of the Year’ to take first prize at the Wiltshire Life Awards, held on Friday 24 March at The Corn Exchange in Devizes.

The project, led by Farm Conservation Advisor Tracy Adams, is an initiative aimed at improving bird and wildlife numbers and habitat through working with farmers in a 450 square mile area in and around the Cranborne Chase AONB. It has been running for two years and is a spin-off of the area’s original South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project.

The South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation Project beat the Great Bustard Project into second place at the awards, hosted by BBC Radio Wiltshire’s Sue Davies, while the Ravensroost Wildlife Reserve Volunteer Group (Wiltshire Wildlife Trust) took third prize. 

“It was a total shock when the project was announced as the winner, especially against such worthy competitors,” said Tracy Adams. “I think the fact that we have engaged with over 130 farmers in and around South Wiltshire and created almost 2,500 acres of new habitat for farmland birds and other wildlife swung it in our favour. Winning would not have been possible without the hard work of all the farmers, as well as Natural England, project sponsor Wessex Water and my colleagues at the AONB.”

The South Wiltshire Farmland Conservation project is seeking to enhance the habitat and foraging areas of vulnerable wildlife and birds, such as the lapwing, turtle dove and tree sparrow, brown hare and harvest mouse, and protect soil and water.

“Despite some of our funding ending this month, I’m optimistic about the future of the project. We already have a group of 17 farmers working together for wildlife in the Chalke Valley near Salisbury and we are talking to other farmers about how they can enhance their land management for the benefit of conservation and the environment. With the prospect of leaving the EU and the future of farm payments uncertain, it is important to think about new ways of funding wildlife management on local farms,” added Tracy.

Fairground Attraction icon comes to Deverills Performing Arts 2017

Mark Nevin Fairground AttractionDEVERILLS Performing Arts has brought together an inspiring programme of high quality performing artists for its 2017 programme at accessible prices using unique rural venues. With events hosted in the Deverill villages, within the Cranborne Chase AONB, and benefitting from a grant from the Cranborne Chase AONB Sustainable Development Fund, there are four more fixtures set to run up to the middle of November.

Apollo5 – 29 April, 7.30pm, Longbridge Deverill Church

Cappella quintet Apollo5, an international award winning vocal ensemble, will perform a range of music, from retro jazz and pop to classical. Their evening concert programme will include such favourites as A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Summertime, Sfogava con le Stelle, Oh You Wide Steppe, Le Duo des Fleurs and Java Jive. Tickets cost £15 or £7.50 for under 17s.

The group will also be running a workshop for young people (10-13) in the afternoon, 1pm to 2.30pm, involving fun warm ups, games, layer-building of rhythms and melodies from around the world, and learning some songs to perform with the group in a mini performance at 2.10pm.

Mark Nevin & band – 24 June, 7.30pm, The George Inn, Longbridge Deverill

Acoustic Magazine recently wrote of guitarist/songwriter Mark Nevin: “He’s definitely still here, writing and singing better than ever…” Mark, who formed Fairground Attraction in the late 1980s, is now touring with former Fairground band-mates Roger Beaujolais, Simon Edwards and Richard Marcangelo. Following the release of his new album, My Unfashionable Opinion, Mojo Magazine, wrote: “Nevin can’t stop writing, delivering songs of hope, joy, ironic insight and spectacular humanity.” Tickets for this event cost £12.

Jason Rebello – 16 September, 7.30pm, Kingston Deverill Church

Jazz pianist Jason Rebello was classically trained, but inspired by Herbie Hancock. He has worked with artists such as Sting, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Joss Stone. At this event, Jason will be playing tracks from Held and some of his previous work. Jazz FM said of him: “Jason is probably the most gifted and fluent pianist to have emerged in Britain since Django Bates.” Tickets cost £12.

Guy Johnston (cello) & Tom Poster (piano) – 18 November, 7.30pm, Kingston Deverill Church

Guy Johnston and Tom Poster perform together frequently and they will be making stunning music in Kingston Deverill Church in this final fixture of the Deverills Performing Arts series of five events. Guy, the BBC Young Musician of 2000 and recipient of a Classical Brit Award, is one of the most exciting and versatile British cellists of his generation, while Tom is internationally recognised as a pianist of outstanding artistry.

Richard Munro, who organises the festival with Julia Williams, said: “Our idea is to bring theatre, music and dance to people who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to see it – top quality performances in historic settings. We have tried to vary the events to cater for all tastes. The artists we book are people we’ve seen. The first fixture in our series, the Door Ajar Theatre production of Thisbe, was enjoyed by all who came to see it in Longbridge Deverill Village Hall and we’re sure the next four events will be equally popular.

“We were incredibly grateful to have received the grant from the Cranborne Chase AONB Sustainable Development Fund which has enabled us to widen our cultural offering. Our aim is to be seen as a beacon of culture in the area.”

Refreshments will be available for a small donation at all concerts. There will also be ample parking. Early booking for all events is recommended. More information is available at

Blandford+ Neighbourhood Plan ‘a step too far’

Planning pictureThe Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was represented at a hearing on Monday 10 April which examined the Blandford+ Neighbourhood Plan for a housing, household recycling/waste transfer site and school development. The examiner, Deborah McCann, was probing in her questions, while approximately 30 members of the public were in attendance.

“Having so many members of the public at the hearing was good news as far as we are concerned as it shows how interested people are in the whole process,” said the Cranborne Chase AONB’s Landscape & Planning Advisor Richard Burden.

The hearing, held at the council offices at Nordon, Blandford, focused on the proposals for the development to the north and north east of the Blandford bypass, which will either be within or enclosed by the AONB.

Richard Burden, Landscape & Planning Advisor, said: “Our concerns centre around the development proposals outside the Blandford bypass which would be within the AONB or encompassed by it and separated from the town by the heavily trafficked bypass. The adverse impact of this development on the character and qualities of the landscape of our nationally important AONB is not being taken fully into account.

“The AONB has supported the development allocations in the recently adopted North Dorset Local Plan and the proposals in the Blandford+ Neighbourhood Plan would be a huge step too far,” Richard added.


One day conference celebrates the work of pioneer archaeologists

Foundations conferenceThe Foundations of Archaeology one-day conference will explore the present day legacy of the work of pioneering Cranborne Chase archaeologists Sir Richard Colt Hoare, William Cunnington and General Pitt-Rivers.

Held on Saturday 6 May at Dinton Village Hall, and open to all, the theme of the conference is ‘Celebrating the past in the present’. Speakers include Nathalie Barrett and David Ashby from the University of Winchester, Mike Allen from the University of Bournemouth and the National Trust’s Martin Papworth who will explore the present day legacy of these three groundbreaking archaeologists. Salisbury Museum’s Adrian Green will discuss General Pitt-Rivers’ many links to Cranborne Chase.

The General was the man who refined archaeology as a scientific discipline. One of his excavations was of the Neolithic Long Barrow of the Wor Barrow in 1893-4, within which he found a mortuary enclosure containing six burials, as well as Neolithic pottery. The ditch of the Long Barrow also contained Neolithic burials and the insertion of 17 late Roman burials, eight of which were headless. It is fascinating details such as these, as well as new archaeological research and fieldwork taking place today, that will run across the conference and shed new light on the sites these pioneers examined.

Additionally, Emma Rouse and Philippe Planel of Wyvern Heritage will discuss The Foundations of Archaeology Project as a whole.

“We are working with volunteers to help further investigate and evaluate the three archaeological sites associated with these pioneers in South Wiltshire and North East Dorset,” explained Emma. “There is no doubting the passion of these men for their subject – amply reflected in Colt Hoare’s beautifully produced two volume Ancient History of Wiltshire (1812).”

Tickets cost £23 and pre booking is essential. For more information, log on to; email:; tel: 01747 870810.

The conference, at Dinton Village Hall, Bratch Lane, Dinton, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP3 5EB commences at 9.30-10am for registration.

Tapping into woodland potential

Making your woodland workNick Hoare, owner of Stourhead (Western) Estate, will be one of the expert speakers at the Woodland Forum, an event that woodland owners can’t afford to miss.

Entitled ‘Making your woodland work for you’, and encompassing topics such as ways to keep woodland healthy, improving the quality of habitats for woodland wildlife, making the most of tax incentives and generating income from the sale of timber and woodland products, this one-day event on 3 May is intended for people who wish to understand more about this valuable asset.

The event, a joint initiative between Cranborne Chase AONB and North Wessex Downs AONB, takes place at Dinton Village Hall from 9.30am and forestry management consultant Steve Russell is also a speaker.

Additionally, there will be a choice of workshop sessions, during which attendees can explore the challenges of woodland management. An afternoon site visit to Teffont Estate will enable delegates to witness the impact and benefits of ongoing woodland management for themselves.

“There are many challenges to managing small ancient or coppice woodlands and it is a shame to see that so many areas of woodland that are not being managed,” said Meg Chambers, woodland advisor to the North Wessex Downs AONB.

Tickets cost £10. For more information and to book your place, contact the North Wessex Downs AONB; tel: 01488 685440.

Attend a living classroom at Bonsley Wood

Dorset Coppice GroupDorset Coppice Group is hosting a Wood Fair on Saturday 6 May 2017 with live folk music provided by Shannon White. Held at Bonsley Wood, the fair will cover the topics of woodland management, the materials we obtain from woods, the crafts they inspire and the people they support.

Activities include wood turning, handle, rustic furniture, spar, charcoal and walking stick making, pyrography, thatching, spoon carving, children's hands on crafts and horse logging with Toby Hoad and Fleur.

Competitions will be held during the day and will include open spar making, with cash prizes for first, second and third places sponsored by the Dorset Charcoal Company, plus open hurdle making, with cash prizes to third place sponsored by Dorset Fencing Supplies Ltd. The open craft competitions include categories in Best One-piece Walking Stick, Wood Turned Object, Something Funny, Under 14s Any Craft and Anything Crafty Goes. Competitions are free to enter for Dorset Coppice Group members or 50p for non-members.

Entry forms can be obtained by emailing Admission and parking are free and refreshments will be available during the day.

The postcode for Bonsley Wood, Durweston, is DT11 0QE.

For more information, log on to

Heart of Wessex LAG events to offer advice on funding

Heart of Wessex LAGAre you passionate about local food and farming, want to support the local economy and care about our beautiful rural environment? If so, make a note in your diary of the Heart of Wessex Local Action Group (LAG) Forum on Wednesday 28 June 2017.

People within the Heart of Wessex LAG area of the Cranborne Chase AONB are encouraged to apply for funding if their project falls within the following areas: 

•    Support to increase farm productivity
•    Support for micro and small business and farm diversification
•    Support for rural tourism
•    Provision of rural services
•    Support for cultural and heritage activity
•    Support for increasing forestry productivity

The Heart of Wessex Local Action Group (LAG) has secured £1.74m of European Union funding through the Rural Development Programme. At the forum the audience will hear how the programme works, how people can get involved through the LAG and help decide where the money is invested. There will also be advice on how projects can apply for funding. Previous project applicants will be speaking, plus there will be programme updates and ideas for the future.

The forum will be held at East Coker Village Hall, East Coker, Somerset BA22 9JJ. Tea and coffee will be available from 6pm, with the meeting starting promptly at 6.30pm.

The Heart of Wessex LAG will also be holding a number of application surgeries during May and June. Anyone with a project idea (see above) or needing help with an application can come along to one of the surgeries which are being held on the following dates between 10am-4pm:

•    Tuesday 23 May – Churchfields, Wincanton, Somerset BA9 9AG
•    Thursday 25 May – Frome Town Hall, Frome, Somerset BA11 1EB
•    Wednesday 7 June – Nadder Centre, Tisbury, Wiltshire SP3 6HJ

During the surgeries one-to-one support (for 45 minutes), guidance and advice will be given, plus attendees will be able to learn about the application process and LEADER funding. The ultimate aim is to establish whether a project may be eligible for funding, answer questions about the application forms and help people to prepare a robust and successful application.

For more information and to book a surgery, contact Emma Curtis, Programme Officer, tel: 07803 506909; email:

AONB advisor recognised for services to the stars

Bob MizonDorset astronomer Bob Mizon, who works closely with the Cranborne Chase AONB on its Dark Skies policy, has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

“It’s a great honour to be recognised by a worldwide dark sky organisation. It came as quite a surprise and I hasten to add that there are many other people in the UK who are trying to promote the message that star quality lighting, as we call it, is compatible with a view of our beautiful night skies,” said Bob, who has been working with the Cranborne Chase AONB team to further its IDA Dark Night Sky Reserve bid for three years.

“The message I’ve been trying to communicate over those three years is simple. We’re not recommending that everyone switches off their lights. However, if they are well directed and not too bright for the job they will help us see at night and they will not drive away the local wildlife and blot out the stars,” added Bob. “We owe it to future generations to make sure that they can see the rest of the universe, not just on computer screens but in reality. Every atom in our bodies was made in either the Big Bang or the interior of a star. Stars do matter in our lives.”

The IDA is based in Tucson, Arizona, and has branches worldwide. Its message is that the night sky is a wonderful natural resource and should not be hidden by badly directed lighting.

Exciting new environmental charity needs trustees

Landscape TrustPeople with skills or experience in fundraising/bid writing, project management, marketing/promotion, HR, finance/book keeping or with all-important business acumen are invited to apply to be a trustee for an exciting new environmental charity, the Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust (CCLT).

This is a fantastic opportunity to help run the CCLT, which is focused on conserving and enhancing the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). If you are passionate about ‘green tourism’, traditional rural trades and crafts, practical countryside skills for young people and encouraging people to get out and explore the countryside, then this is the perfect role for you.

The trustees meet approximately six times a year, although some of these may be ‘virtual’ meetings via Skype or telephone. In addition, trustees may wish to attend AONB events or occasional training courses.

Suitable candidates appointed to the role will find that this is a great opportunity to discover new interests, broaden their experience in a variety of fields and meet new people.

Successful applicants will help the CCLT to deliver a new visitor and interpretation centre for the Cranborne Chase AONB and support a conservation project to improve local habitats for the endangered Turtle Dove.

For more information, visit, or for an informal discussion contact Steve Avery, chairman of CCLT; tel: 01425 483075 or Zam Baring, trustee and vice chairman of the AONB Partnership Panel

All interested applicants should send a supporting statement and CV to Shirley Merrick on The closing date is 30 April 2017, with interviews held during May.

Stargazing spots that are out of this world

StargazingTo coincide with the launch of our new dark skies website (, the Cranborne Chase AONB is delighted to announce its top 10 places for stargazing and capturing some outstanding night time photographs. If you can think of other brilliant places for watching the night sky, please let us know by emailing

1.    King Alfred’s Tower
Kingsettle Hill, South Brewham, Bruton BA10 0LB
2.    Dinton Park
St Mary's Rd, Dinton SP3 5HH
3.    Fontmell and Melbury  Downs
Spreadeagle Hill, Melbury Abbas SP7 0DT
4.    Martin Down National Nature Reserve
Grid reference SU036200
5.    Win Green
Donhead Hollow, Near Ludwell, Wiltshire, SP7 0ES
6.    Knowlton Church & Henge
Knowlton, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 5AE
7.    Badbury Rings
B3082, near Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 4DZ
8.    Cley Hill
Corsley, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7QU
9.    Sutton Veny Playing Fields
Grid reference ST901418
10.    Ox Drove
Nr Chilmark, Wiltshire SP3 5TA

Happy star gazing!

Taste the Chase to return in the autumn

Taste the chaseFollowing the successful inaugural Taste the Chase last year, the hugely popular fixture that showcases food and drink produced within the Cranborne Chase AONB, will now return in the autumn of 2017 with a new date and a new venue. Watch this space for details. 

If you are interested in taking a stand, email:



AONB Office, Shears Building, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1HD
Tel: 01725 517417 | Email: | Web:




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