BBC Antiques Roadshow coming to Barrington Court – 18 September

Fiona Bruce – BBC Antiques Roadshow ©BBC

Fiona Bruce – BBC Antiques Roadshow ©BBC

A chandelier found in Hitler’s bunker, a tie-pin possibly connected to Lord Nelson and a Staffordshire creamware pot that sat on top of a wardrobe for 25 years, yet was worth £14,300…just some of the Antiques Roadshow discoveries made so far.

The show’s back on the road and coming to Barrington Court in Somerset on Thursday 18 September. Entrance to the Roadshow is free, and it’s open from 9.30am to 4.30pm.So take a peek in the attic, look in the garage or think again about that piece on the sideboard inherited from granny.

Presenter Fiona Bruce, now in her seventh year with the Roadshow, said: “Every episode is different – a new location and thousands of new visitors. The only constant is the pleasure of the unexpected – we never know what will turn up, from a dazzling Russian Fabergé egg to an ancient Maori feather holder.” Continue reading…

Autumn colour is a natural tonic to beating the winter blues

red squirrel at Brownsea Island

red squirrel at Brownsea Island

New research from the National Trust has found that the kaleidoscope of natural colours experienced on an autumn walk makes 87% of people in the South West feel happier, healthier and calmer.  More than 40% admit to feeling down as the nights draw in.

The conservation charity released the findings as part of its Great British Walk 2014, which launched this week with an invitation to enjoy a rainbow of walks. Shades of blue you find on walks by water or when the landscape is coloured by the evening’s darkening sky were found to help soothe away stress by 38% of people in the South West, while the greens of hilltops and pine woodlands leave 51% of people in the South West feeling more connected with the natural world.

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Roman mosaic unearthed at Chedworth

Archaeologist unearths Roman mosaic at live dig


During a live dig at Chedworth Roman Villa this week a team of National Trust archaeologists have unearthed Roman mosaics which haven’t been seen for at least 150 years.

 The new archaeological excavations of the North Wing at Chedworth Roman Villa are surprising and delighting not just the visitors but the archaeologists themselves, as this new mosaic of a grand Roman reception room has just been discovered, which no-one knew existed. Visitors can watch the live dig, and view these new mosaics until Friday 29 August – and yet more exciting discoveries could still be made. Continue reading…

A walk on the wild side

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFyne Court in the heart of the Quantock Hills is undergoing a quiet transformation and perhaps not in the obvious way.

Often referred to as a hidden gem, the large house and landscaped gardens have long been lost to fire and the wilds. Rather than opting to restore the garden to its former glory, the National Trust is taking a different approach, creating a wildlife corridor.

As Nigel Garnsworthy, head ranger explains: ‘There is always a bit of a management dilemma when looking after a property like this. The key thing is considering all the important features at Fyne Court whether they are ecological, cultural, historic or recreational and balancing all of these so that one aspect doesn’t impact too greatly on the others.’

Liz Hall, full time volunteer ranger is heading up the first phase of the project creating a wildlife garden at the entrance of the cobbled courtyard.

‘I wanted to create a visual welcome for our visitors, that was also friendly to wildlife particularly bees and butterfly.’

The planning of the wildlife garden was a collaborative one. In consultation with Butterfly Conservation, Somerset Wildlife Trusts, reptile and amphibian group (RAGS) and the head gardener at Barrington Court, Liz and a team of volunteers had a wealth of information on best practise and planting.

‘I’ve picked out flowers with all of this in mind. For example, the lavender hedge and buddleia that have just gone in will attract bees and butterflies whilst the honeysuckle on the back wall will be great for night fliers such as moths and bats. Plants like the shrub roses will flower for colour in the summer and the hips will feed the birds in the autumn. A willow roe deer sculpture acts as a finishing touch and means our visitors are bound to see at least one animal in the garden.’

The garden and additional feeders and bird and bat boxes that have gone up mark the start of a bigger picture, creating a wildlife corridor that runs to the dipping pond, on to the walled garden and beyond. We want the place to look cared for but in the spirit of wildness. We will be carrying out wildlife surveys later in the year to see who has made Fyne Court their new home.’

The plants were bought thanks to money from the Quantocks AONB sustainable development fund and the deer sculpture was funded from the generous donations people make in the second hand book stall located in the Fyne Court information area.

Canoeing to Bantham

Dave Halsall from Singing Paddles an outdoor adventure organisation based in South Devon took us on one of his favourite canoe trips to Bantham

One of my favourite canoe trips in South Devon is to drop down with the tide from Aveton Gifford to Bantham.  It’s the best way to arrive at the village, showing off Bantham to the full, sat in a bend of the estuary.  It’s only a short paddle it is full of interest and because the high tide covers the tidal road stopping the traffic it has quiet and remote feel.

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‘Bantham Beach; its just too perfect to risk losing’

Joel as  a child on Bantham Beach

Joel as a child on Bantham Beach

Joel Wakeling, National Trust Ranger in South Devon tells us why Bantham has played such an important role in his life.

‘As someone who has grown up in the South Hams, my life and my passions have without a doubt been shaped by countless happy hours spent on the best sandy beach in South Devon.

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Volunteers celebrate new chough chicks at Lizard Point.


A team of National Trust and RSPB volunteers have been watching on tenterhooks to see if the legacy of choughs on the Lizard would continue. The long wait is over, and it is good news!

As you may have heard, in 2013 volunteers witnessed the dramatic end of the original pair of choughs who had pioneered the natural return of choughs to Cornwall since 2001, raising 46 chicks. In late May the original male bird died defending his territory against a young incoming male, who then paired up with the existing female. Two weeks after the take over, she too disappeared, leaving the young incoming male to raise the chicks on his own. After a month of hard, lonely work the younger male managed to successfully raise the youngsters who fledged in July last year. Continue reading…

Wild flowers on Rodborough commons the “best in years”

Rodborough Common Early Purple orchids and Cowslips: Barry Batchelor
Yellow cowslips and early purple orchids on Rodborough Commons (C) National Trust/Barry Batchelor

 The display of wild flowers on Rodborough Commons has been described as the best seen in many years by National Trust rangers. The displays of bright yellow cowslips and other flowers such as early purple orchids can be seen right across the commons.

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