Dr Jon Gregory will be at the Norfolk Record Office on Friday 21st April 2017 to give a talk on the project we have been working on recently, looking at the changing landscape of the Brecks in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is free to attend and all are welcome. You can register a place by following this link: https://breckslandscape.eventbrite.co.uk
A new project for 2016 looking at the landscape of the Brecks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
During 2016 landscape historians at UEA are working on a project exploring the changing landscape of the Brecks in the period c.1700-1930. This was a time of dramatic change in parts of the region as heathland commons were replaced by enclosed fields and plantations. The project will seek to chart these changes and explore the stories behind them, drawing together existing research and presenting new findings through a new project website. A number of workshops and day schools are planned for this year which will provide opportunities to find out more about researching the changing post-medieval landscape, with a particular emphasis on contemporary maps and documents.
See below for dates and venues of forthcoming workshops. These are free to attend but places will need to be booked in advance – please click on the links for more details. The content of the four introductory workshops will be the same so it is not necessary to book on more than one.
In addition to the workshops there will also be opportunities for volunteers and local groups to get involved with the project through carrying out research, conducting fieldwork, sharing existing knowledge and contributing to the project website.
Our recent research has touched on many themes relating to the development of the Brecks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including (but not limited to) the enclosure of heathland, the impact of rabbit warrens, the planting of pine lines, the evolution of designed landscapes, the decline of landed estates, mapping the landscape, tree planting and forestry and changes in the road and footpath network. This project will provide opportunities to add to our knowledge of these topics and to bring together these various strands to present an accessible view of the changing landscape. For more information on the project and how you can get involved please contact Dr Jon Gregory – firstname.lastname@example.org
This is part of a wider HLF-funded project, Breaking New Ground, which encompasses a range of activities and events across the Brecks in Norfolk and Suffolk. You can find out more on the project website – http://www.breakingnewground.org.uk/
Prof. Tom Williamson – Lost country houses in Norfolk: history and archaeology
UEA, Lecture Theatre 1, 6.00pm (free to attend, all welcome).
Tom will be kicking off the current round of CEAS lectures on Tuesday 3rd March at 6.00pm, talking about the history and archaeology of demolished country houses in Norfolk. The lecture will be based on a wider project which Professor Williamson has been working on with Ivan Ringwood and Sarah Spooner, the results of which will be published in the near future.
Please see our Events page for the full programme of Spring 2015 lectures.
Jospeh Rykwert, notable architecture historian and critic will deliver the 2014 RIBA lecture at UEA.
Rkywert is the RIBA 2014 Gold Medallist and Paul Philippe Cret Emeritus Professor of Architecture (University of Pennsylvania). Throughout his career he has written many influential works on architecture, including The Idea of a Town (1963) and The Seduction of Place (2000).
The lecture will last for approximately 1 hr and will be followed by a complimentary reception in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
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!
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 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.
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.
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).
2016 will be the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – the most well-known landscape designer of the eighteenth century (and probably of any century). As landscape historians we are interested in Brown and his work for a number of reasons – his landscapes are works of art in their own right, and by studying them we can understand the changing nature of society and culture in the eighteenth century. We can study their archaeology – earthworks, trees, lakes and buildings, for clues about their development and how they were created and maintained.
But how much do we know about Brown himself? He has been the subject of several biographies, including Jane Brown’s Omnipotent Magician (2012) and Dorothy Stroud’s Capability Brown, first published in 1950, and numerous other books and articles. We have recently completed a review of research on Brown for English Heritage which aimed to assess how much research has been done on Brown, but also where the gaps in our knowledge lie.
We held a workshop at UEA earlier this year to discuss our findings with a group of academics, researchers and representatives from organisations like English Heritage and the National Trust. This included a trip to Kimberley Hall in Norfolk, which was landscaped by Brown in the 1760s.
Our report has now been published as an English Heritage Research Report, and can be downloaded from their website. In it, we identify some of the problems of studying the life and work of Brown – many landscapes have been attributed to Brown which are probably not by him, whilst there are probably some Brown parks which have not been identified as such yet.
Despite his fame, there is still a lot that we don’t know about Brown and his work – hopefully the upcoming tercentenery will be a good opportunity to do more work on Brown, and to fill in those gaps in our understanding.
Following on from yesterday’s post, these maps show patterns of density across the county, this time taking account of roads as well as public rights of way. In each case the density of routeways has been worked out in terms of metres per hectare.
Public Rights of Way (Footpaths, Bridleways, Byways)
Highest = Wacton (59m per hectare)
Lowest = A number of parishes with no public rights of way (more on this to follow in another post)
Public Roads (excluding PROW)
Highest = Norwich (102m of public road per hectare)
Lowest = Sturston (0m of public road per hectare)
Public Roads and Public Rights of Way
Highest = Norwich (103m per hectare) Sheringham a close second with 101m
Lowest = Sturston (no public roads, no public rights of way)
As research and mapping progress we hope to be able to look in more depth at changing densities over time. It has already become clear from examining seventeenth and eighteenth-century maps of a number of places that processes such as parliamentary enclosure could dramatically reduce the number of paths and roads within a parish. However, in some cases similar processes are evident even in parishes which were untouched by enclosure acts.
When looking at patterns of rights of way across Norfolk some are unsurprising, such as the greater number of footpaths and lanes in the south east of the county and the relative sparseness of the north west. Examining the historic development of such contrasts will form a key part of our Pathways to History project, but as we sort through the results of fieldwork and documentary research we’ve started to explore and map a range of other patterns.
Firstly, we’ve been looking at the modern density of rights of way (footpaths, bridleways and byways), calculated in terms of metres of rights of way per hectare of each parish. On this basis the densest network of rights of way is to be found in the parish of Wacton, to the west of the A140 near Long Stratton. Anyone who has ever looked at an Ordnance Survey map of this area won’t be surprised by this – the mesh of paths and tracks across and around Wacton Common is striking even in an area with as many footpaths as south Norfolk. It might reasonably be expected that the other most densely ‘pathed’ parishes in Norfolk would be in this area, but the distribution of the top ten is rather more widespread.
PROW(m) per HECTARE
Burston and Shimpling
Looking at these in a little more detail they can be divided into a number of categories. Firstly, there are those parishes which have high densities due to their diminutive areas, such as New Buckenham and Yelverton. Secondly there is Downham West, which scores highly here by virtue of the long bridleways and byways which follow the course of fenland rivers and dykes. Thirdly there are those parishes, such as Wacton and Runton where areas of common land survived much later than elsewhere in Norfolk. Indeed, Runton is one of the few places in this region where open field strips survived late enough to be included on the first edition six inch and twenty five inch Ordnance Survey maps of the 1880s. Drayton is a somewhat surprising entry in the top ten, particularly as there appear to be very few rights of way on modern maps. However, the definitive map for Norfolk includes a cluster of footpaths around Drayton Wood and Canham’s Hill which help to explain the results above. You can see them on Norfolk County Council’s interactive map here – http://www.countrysideaccess.norfolk.gov.uk/interactive-map.aspx
Further research, both fieldwork and documentary, will undoubtedly shed more light on these patterns; and on the more detailed history of rights of way within individual parishes.