Field Trip Round Up – Spring 2014 (part 2)

Sutton Hoo

In March we hosted a trip for the UEA History Society, taking them to Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. We explored the National Trust exhibitions, walked around the burial mounds and discussed the landscape context of the site. Hopefully those who have never studied landscape history before went away with a slightly clearer idea of what we do!

The National Trust visitor centre at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.
The National Trust visitor centre at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.
Prof. Tom Williamson discusses the finer points of the landscape of Sutton Hoo with students from the UEA History Society.
Prof. Tom Williamson discusses the finer points of the landscape of Sutton Hoo with students from the UEA History Society.

Ickworth

At the end of March we spent a wonderful day at Ickworth with our third-year students, untangling the history of the park, its buildings, earthworks and trees. In the course of the day we covered the building of the hall, the laying out of the gardens, the expansion of the park over former farms and roads, the demolition of the old manor house, the recent restoration of the parish church and finally the construction of the walled garden and summerhouse in the early eighteenth century (see photograph above).

A group of third-year landscape history students exploring the gardens at Ickworth.
A group of third-year landscape history students exploring the gardens at Ickworth.
The rotunda at Ickworth.
The rotunda at Ickworth, originally commissioned by Frederick Hervey (1730-1803), Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry.

8Wayland Head 9Castle Acre Head

A double-header for our second year students, spending the morning at Wayland Wood with Prof. Tom Williamson and the afternoon at Castle Acre with Dr Jon Gregory. Wayland provides an excellent site for studying ancient woodland, with some good boundary earthworks and an opportunity to see coppice rotation in action. Thankfully enough leaves were out to a) give the students a crash course in identifying key species and b) mitigate the effects of a severe Spring downpour.

Outgrown coppice stools in Wayland Wood. Other parts of the wood are still managed traditionally with a regular cycle of coppicing (making it easy to get confused when we come back each year!)
Outgrown hornbeam coppice stools in Wayland Wood. Other parts of the wood are still managed traditionally with a regular cycle of coppicing (making it easy to get confused when we come back each year!)
Second-year landscape history students walking through an old area of hornbeam coppice at Wayland Wood.
Second-year landscape history students heading towards the boundary of Wayland Wood.

At Castle Acre we admired the architecture of the Ostrich Inn from both inside and out before making our way to the Priory. Walking around the precinct provided some valuable early revision in advance of the exam. We then retraced our steps back through the village to the castle, discussing its complex development and its place in recent debates on the function and meaning of medieval castles.

Castle Acre Priory
Castle Acre Priory – The west end of the church and the Prior’s lodgings, seen from the east side of the cloister.
Castle Acre castle
Castle Acre castle – the remains of the curtain wall which surrounded the keep.

London

The London field trip has become a firmly embedded part of our third year landscape module in recent year, though this year was more challenging than most due to the fact that most trains were terminating at Colchester and it was FA Cup Final day… We met part of the group at Liverpool Street and the rest at Westminster before making our way to St James’s Park, via Inigo Jones’ Banqueting House. After a tour around St James’s and Green Park we went to the V&A to see the excellent William Kent exhibition. A particular highlight was the rather large scale model of Kent’s design for a new palace at Richmond (which was never built).

London1 London2

Wimpole

This year’s exam timetable meant that there was just time to squeeze in one last field trip before the academic year drew to a close. Wimpole in Cambridgeshire was the destination for a trip which was part revision and part pre-final exam relaxation and reassurance. Wimpole has been shaped by various designers and architects including Henry Flitcroft, James Gibbs, Charles Bridgeman, Robert Greening, ‘Capability’ Brown, Humphry Repton and John Soane. A good opportunity, therefore, to test the students’ knowledge of changing estate landscapes in the post medieval period.

Third-year landscape history students on their final field trip of the year to Wimpole, Cambs.
Third-year landscape history students on their final field trip of the year to Wimpole, Cambs.
Dr Sarah Spooner attempts to convince students that the earthworks of the early eighteenth-century gardens at Wimpole do still exist underneath the very long summer grass.
Dr Sarah Spooner attempts to convince students that the earthworks of the early eighteenth-century gardens at Wimpole do still exist underneath the very long summer grass.

And that, as they say, was that. The exams went well, the sun shone at graduation and we can now look forward to planning our field trips for 2014/15.

Field Trip Round Up – Spring 2014 (part 1)

Catton

Our first post-Christmas field trip was a short one – out to the north of Norwich to Catton Park, Humphry Repton’s first commission as a landscape designer. Catton is an excellent example of the type of small, semi-urban parks which proliferated around towns and cities such as Norwich in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as can be seen here on Faden’s map of Norfolk. The lines of old oak trees in parts of the park provide hints of the former fields which were thrown together create it.

Oak pollards, once part of a hedgerow, in the park at Catton.
Oak pollards, once part of a hedgerow, in the park at Catton.
Third-year UEA landscape history students exploring Catton Park with Dr Sarah Spooner
Third-year UEA landscape history students exploring Catton Park with Dr Sarah Spooner. The hall is in the top-right corner.

Hockering

A return visit to Hockering, where we spent some time surveying the wood with our third-year fieldwork course in summer 2013. It all looked rather different on a cold January day as we followed the boundary of the wood and explored the remnants of a former deer park on the parish boundary between Hockering and East Tuddenham.

Looking along the boundary of a former deer park in Hockering, Norfolk.
Looking along the boundary of a former deer park in Hockering, Norfolk – taken from ‘inside’ the park.

Norwich

Our second year students began the spring semester with an introduction to medieval landscapes and buildings, including sessions on the architecture of the parish church. With Norwich on our doorstep it seemed a much better idea to spend time in the city rather than in the seminar room. Starting out under the impressive tower of St Giles we headed off on a miniature odyssey of Norwich churches – some open, some closed and some put to new uses. We looked at the churches of St Benedict (just a tower since 1942), St Swithin (now Norwich Arts Centre), St Margaret, St Lawrence, St Gregory (home to impressive medieval wall painitngs and an antiques market), St John Maddermarket, St Andrew, St Peter Hungate and finally St George Tombland where we were given an impromptu and very interesting tour by the verger.

St Lawrence, Norwich.
St Lawrence, Norwich. The 112ft tower wouldn’t quite fit in the shot…

Wolterton

As Spring started to spring our third years carried on their Grand Tour of East Anglian parks and gardens with a visit to Wolterton. Lying immediately to the north of Blickling, Wolterton Hall was designed by Thomas Ripley, with the design of the surrounding landscape attributed to Charles Bridgeman with later additions by William Sawrey Gilpin.

Student's admiring the south front of Wolterton Hall.
Students admiring the south front of Wolterton Hall as Dr Sarah Spooner outlines its history.
Exploring the stables at Wolterton.
Exploring the stables at Wolterton.

Thetford

Reactions vary when we inform our second year students that we will be going to Thetford for a field trip. For students heading toward Norwich from various parts of the country Thetford is somewhere glimpsed from car or train windows, a name on road signs seen while contemplating whether or not the A11 does in fact go on forever. However, a sunny morning spent scaling the motte of the Norman castle, studying the ruins of the Cluniac Priory and exploring the timber-framed Ancient House meant that most went home with a more favourable perception. We also managed to catch the Lost Tudor Sculptures exhibition, part of the Representing Reformation project.

The remains of the gatehouse at Thetford Priory.
The remains of the gatehouse at Thetford Priory.
UEA landscape history students follow Dr Jon Gregory up the motte at Thetford.
UEA landscape history students follow Dr Jon Gregory up the motte at Thetford.

Part two to follow…