Local History in Blo Norton

Yesterday we went along to a local history day in the south Norfolk village of Blo Norton to help support The Little Ouse Headwaters Project.

The valley of the Little Ouse was once an important fenland landscape, with peat diggings and large areas of common grazing. The LOHP project has been working to restore parts of the fens and commons and to manage them sustainably to attract important species (like the raft spider – one of the largest in Britain which thrives in this part of south Norfolk).

Faden’s map of 1797, digitally redrawn by Andrew Macnair, shows the long common along the river valley which joined up with the large common in neighbouring Lopham. Blo Norton Fen was enclosed in the 1820s, although some elements of the fenland landscape remained in the form of fuel allotments for the poor.

One of our undergraduate students, Lucy Willgress, did her final year work placement with the Little Ouse Headwaters project this summer. Lucy researched the changing landscape of the Little Ouse valley, and in particular looked at the some of the fuel allotments created after parliamentary enclosure and how they were managed.

Yesterday Lucy gave a short talk on her work to people from Blo Norton and the surrounding area, and we were then on hand in the afternoon to look at original documents and maps bought along by members of the local community.

This was the first local history day event held by the LOHP team, who were really pleased with the response from the local community – there will almost certainly be more history themed events to follow!

If you’d like to find out more about the Little Ouse Headwaters Project, and how you can get involved their website is here – http://www.lohp.org.uk/

You can explore Andrew Macnair’s redrawn map of Faden here – http://www.fadensmapofnorfolk.co.uk/

Historic Buildings, Parks and Gardens Event 2011

Yesterday we were in London at the Historic Buildings, Parks and Gardens Event, organised by the Historic Houses Association. We had a stand for our consultancy, The Landscape Group.

The exhibition is attended by those who own and manage historic buildings and landscapes, and lots of stands are focused on the conservation and restoration of buildings, garden features and interiors. We spent the day talking to lots of delegates about the research that we do on historic designed landscapes, and about the restoration and management schemes that we have worked on in the past.

It was a really interesting day, and we enjoyed chatting to the lovely people from Level, the Land Use Consultancy and finding out about Pear’s GIS software.

The event was also in the middle of London, which gave us the chance for a spot of sightseeing in our breaks from manning the stand!

Book News

Last week we heard that Professor Tom Williamson and Dr Andrew Macnair (Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History) had won the History category of the East Anglian Book Awards run by the Eastern Daily Press and Jarrolds for their book on William Faden.

The book exploits GIS technology to interrogate Faden’s map of Norfolk, published in 1797, to shed new light on the development of the Norfolk landscape.

Buy William Faden and Norfolk’s Eighteenth-Century Landscape from Oxbow Books.

Congratulations Tom and Andrew!

This week also sees the publication of Tom’s new book on the ancient trees of Norfolk, co-authored with Dr Gerry Barnes.

Ancient Trees in the Landscape: Norfolk’s arboreal heritage is the result of many years work, including a survey of over 5,000 trees undertaken by volunteers around the county.

Although focused on Norfolk, the book is relevant for a wider audience, particularly for the discussion on how to date trees accurately, traditional management practices and the use of trees in designed landscapes.

Buy Ancient Trees in the Landscape from Oxbow Books.