This is the page to find all about the tree planting within the parkland, a thousand trees will be planted in ten years. A new cohort of young trees will begin to replace the old veterans. I have had the great privilege to work in a parkland steeped in history and wondered about all those who have shaped the landscape and although its zenith lay in the late 19th century and the 20th century may have seen its nadir, the 21st century will lay the foundations to its former glory. I will never see the fruits of mine and others people’s labour and the kind benevolence of those that help finance the project, but it gives me great satisfaction and pleasure to know others will in the future. Maybe we will even see the deer come back to the parkland, one can ever hope.
Click on the 1828 map to enlarge and you’ll see the extent of the deer park (A4)surrounding the hall, not one fence would have been seen from the house and trees would have clothed the landscape. It must have been some sight when looking inward from the local countryside lacking in grand mature trees.
For detailed information on each area to be planted click on each tab below:
For the individual numbered trees in each area click on tab below:
The parkland would have never happened except for Thomas Chicheley who engrossed the open fields, some say by force but this is not true, the manorial system would not allow it and in fact Chicheley had to spend a lifetime achieving his goal only to have to let it go for financial reasons and at the point of making the Great Park. (There may have been another hand in the shaping of the park in the late medieval/post medieval namely Sir William de Staundon Master of the Grocer’s Company and Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1392 and 1407 who owned Wimpole from c 1390) Later owners followed the fashion of formality only to find themselves in difficulty. Harley who owned Wimpole in the early 18th century employed Charles Bridgeman to produce an even greater formal park with extensive avenues, but formality was going to give way to the naturalistic look by the mid 17th century, probably partly driven by the sheer cost of running formal landscapes. Unfortunately Harley suffered the same fate as Chicheley and the estate was sold.
The estate then fell into the hands of the Hardwickes in 1739. Soon after, the famous landscape architect Robert Greening was employed and he started the deformalise the park. However it was left to one of the most famous architect’s, Capability Brown to deformalising the park further and add the north park around 1760. This was done by breaking up the formal avenues, planting more clumps of trees and changing the farmland to the north of the house into parkland and is what we see today looking towards the folly.
Nothing much happened for a while but in just before 1790 the 2nd Earl of Hardwicke commissioned William Eames to make a plan to enhance the park further. Unfortunately the 2nd Earl died in 1790 so much of the plan was not executed, it would have been impressive especially having a river like lake to the south and easily visible from the house. The current walled garden was placed where it is because of Eames plan. Oddly though instead of the 3rd Earl following the plan it appears that the 4th Earl actually implemented some of the features seen in this plan. One very obvious one was the stables which he had built-in its current position and knocked down the old stables near the house as per the Eames 1790 plan. Another not so obvious addition was the extension of the park to the south-west near Arrington. Eames plan followed the naturalistic approach but it would seem that this had had its day, Countryside right up to the hall was giving way to a slightly more formal approach as advocated by Humphrey Repton.
The map with Humphrey Reptons annotations on it is a copy of a map made in 1800. We can clearly see that the wall garden was implemented (the square in the middle of a blue circle, see Eames map too) some extra woodland, and possibly clumps of trees but it is not an accurate map rather a quick sketch. Never the less it gives an insight into Humphrey Repton’s vision. Some additions like the extension of the park to the East followed Eames plan but controversially Repton was all for cutting great swaths of trees down in the park, luckily for us I don’t think the 3rd Earl was to impressed as they were never cut down. However the garden we see today was a creation of Humphrey Repton as was the extension of the park to the North East. With the death of the 3rd Earl and as he had lost his only son in a tragic ship wreck in the Baltic sea the estate went to his nephew Charles Hardwicke aka ‘Captain Blowhard’ due to his naval career. An interesting man to say the least, with a passion for the estate and farming he was actively involved and rather than use landscape architects of the day he chose to undertake the helm so to speak and further enhance the parkland. He added an extension to the park in the South-East near Arrington, moved the stables to its current position and added a foss to the South, built the Woodyard, added woodland belts to the South-East, planted hundreds of trees in the park and drew the plans and implemented the Victoria plantation woodland drive. By the time of his death in 1872 he had greatly improved the parkland and estate. Unfortunately he knew only to well that his son and heir the 5th Earl would probably be the ruin of his beloved estate. Sure enough by 1890 the 300 deer in the park had gone along with all the money, this was the turning point of a slow decline which is only now starting to return the parkland and estate to its former late 19th century glory. Having known the estate since 1985 it was obvious that it needed re-planting not because I knew anything about the history but because many of the trees were/are getting old and prone to dying or being blown over, 1-3 every year. Then in 1987 the great storm visited and many a tree was up rooted and thrown prostrate on the floor. A re planting programme was definitely in order. In 1995 I became the forester for Wimpole and set about trying to get more trees planted within the parkland, not such an easy job as I found out. As it is a grade one listed landscape and a scheduled Ancient Monument the planting scheme was going to take quite awhile and plenty of research. First all the maps had to be collected in digital format and then made all the same scale to see how the parkland developed and all the relevent old photographs and paintings of the estate brought together. Eventually after many years of work it fell to Mark Nokkert in 2011 to draw together all the information and produce a planting plan for the park that everyone would agree to. One of the major stumbling blocks was going to be the sheer cost of the new planting scheme, in fact probably a major reason why so little parkland has been replanted. Whichever way you look at it the trees have to be guarded against the livestock and wildlife, you can either use wooden guards or metal ones and ideally they have to last 30-40 years. Therefore the actual cost of each tree planted regardless whether it’s wooden or metal is around £500 per tree over the 30-40 years. This includes materials, approximately £250 each and £250 labour which includes the aftercare, therefore if we are to plant 1000 trees the material costs are going to be a quarter of a million pounds and double that for the labour. There was no way that this planting scheme would have gone ahead without changing something but what! I had a rather cunning idea that £25,000 per year didn’t sound to bad, so the phrase ‘A thousand trees in ten years’ was coined, not only that I reckoned that the forestry team would be able to undertake the work if it was done in this piece meal way. To get things started we did the folly which a great friend of mine Justin Anderson donated the first 60 trees to mark the Queens 60 year reign, quite a good idea as it turned out. Next we managed to get three years work of grant money from the HLS payments administered by Natural England, £116 per tree and used some of the money raised by the second-hand book sales (the book shop volunteers decided they would like some of the money they raised to go to the planting scheme 🙂 a really big thankyou) then an even bigger surprise was the donation of £100,000 from the forestry department at Central office, many people leave legacies to the National Trust specifically for woodlands and trees. Our planting scheme was deemed a worthy cause, this has secured the planting scheme and many thanks goes to the forestry team at Central office and those who left the legacies. Finally there are the individuals, businesses and voluntary groups that have given donations for the tree planting, each having a tree allocated to them. To date over the last three years we have planted well over 300 trees in the parkland and have another seven years to go. by the time we finish some of the trees should have started to get quite big!!!