Today we visited the village of Walberswick on the Suffolk coast to test out a heritage walk around the World War Two defences being developed by Dr Rob Liddiard.

During 1940 the beach itself was defended with a minefield, barbed wire, anti tank cubes and ‘dragons teeth’. Most of these have now gone, but on the high ground above the village and the beach there are more tangible traces of the anti-invasion defences.

A good example of a ‘Suffolk Square’ infantry pillbox (top photo) is linked to a rare set of surviving trenches constructed in 1940, and nearby is a very well preserved Observation Post (bottom photo). Both structures overlook Corporation Marshes (below), an area of marshland which was deliberately kept flooded to slow down the progress of a German invasion.

The 2nd/4th South Lancashire Regiment were stationed along this part of the coast until November 1940, after which the defences here were largely abandoned. In places woodland regeneration ensured their survival when other anti-invasion landscapes were being destroyed.

To find out more about the defence of Walberswick in World War Two visit the project website – http://www.walberswickww2.co.uk/


Attingham Park

We recently visited Attingham Park, a National Trust property in Shropshire, built in 1785 for Lord Berwick.

It was a beautifully sunny day to see the house and grounds. The Trust are doing a lot of conservation work at Attingham, and it was really interesting to see some of the ‘in progress’ work (and also to see some of the rooms staged at though it were the evening – very atmospheric).

We really enjoyed the eighteenth-century walled kitchen garden – last time we visited a couple of years ago, the kitchen garden was an empty, grassy space. Now the gardens are being restored and replanted and some of the archaeology uncovered.

This is the recently uncovered base of an eighteenth-century glasshouse, possibly for peaches or other fruit. The line of the wall against the outer wall of the kitchen garden is also clearly visible here.

On the other side of the garden wall part of the room which held the stove or boiler which heated the glasshouse has been excavated. It’s hard to see from this photo, but in the blue box at the bottom of the pit are the pieces of a rather lovely handmade glass cloche, used for protecting plants in the garden.

The kitchen gardens at Attingham are open to the public seven days a week, all year round – more details are on the National Trust website.

Ancient Trees and Woodpastures – Autumn Conference

TreesOn Saturday 8th October 2011 UEA will be hosting the Society for Landscape Studies Autumn conference, ‘Ancient Trees and Woodpastures’ with speakers including Tom Williamson, Della Hooke and Andrew Fleming.

Ecologists and arboriculturalists have long emphasised the importance of ancient and traditionally-managed trees, and in particular the concentrations of such trees found in wood-pastures, for their role in maintaining biodiversity. Landscape historians are increasingly making their own, distinctive contribution to this important area of study. Why are ancient trees found where they are? How were trees managed in the past, and why? What did past generations think about old trees? In this conference some of the country’s leading landscape historians consider these and other important questions, placing ancient trees firmly within their wider historical contexts.

The deadline for conference registration is 16th September 2011 (forms can be downloaded here) and the cost is £20 or £12 for students.


Rob Liddiard (UEA) ‘What was a deer park?’

Patsy Dallas (UEA) ‘Wood-pasture commons in post-medieval Norfolk’

Della Hooke ‘Anglo-Saxon wood-pastures’

Tom Williamson (UEA) ‘The landscape contexts of ancient trees: a Norfolk case study’

Nicola Whyte (Univ. of Exeter) ‘Trees and memory in early-modern England’

Andrew Fleming (Univ. of Wales) ‘The pollards of Powys: working with Welsh wood-pasture’