Tree work being carried out on Beech Avenue at Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy beech avenue (c) National Trust

Kingston Lacy beech avenue (c) National Trust

 Some more remedial tree surgery is due to start shortly on the famous Beech Avenue at Kingston Lacy.

 The surgery will be carried out to 16 trees on the 180-year-old avenue – as well as removing one tree which was toppled in the storms at New Year. The work is due to start on Monday 10 February and will involve the use of traffic control on the B3082 past Badbury Rings. Continue reading…

Duke of Wellington’s tree at Kingston Lacy

The National Trust owns more old and significant trees than any other organisation in the UK including some of international importance such as the Tolpuddle Martyr’s tree or Newton’s apple tree and takes the responsibility of looking after these very seriously. The Trust spends significant resources every year surveying these trees and carrying out work to enhance their useful lives and many staff and external arboricultural consultants and contractors are involved with this.  However for various reasons and no matter how important they are, it is not possible to keep all trees indefinitely but the need to make difficult decisions like the one to remove the Duke of  Wellington’s cedar at Kingston Lacy are fortunately very rare. 

Continue reading…

Historic Glasshouses restored at Kingston Lacy

Some of the historic glasshouses in the Kitchen Garden at Kingston Lacy are being restored thanks to a grant of £38,345 from Local Action Group Sowing Seeds.

Work being carried out on the Orchid House (c) National Trust

Work being carried out on the Orchid House (c) National Trust

The buildings had fallen into disrepair with rotten frames and broken glass meaning that part of the Kitchen Garden could not be opened to the public.

But now the National Trust at Kingston Lacy has started work to restore some of the glasshouses and bring them back into use.

The glasshouses are adjacent to the 118 Growing Spaces community allotment plots which has allocated spaces for local families and individuals, as well as community groups and schools.

The award of the grant has enabled two of the glasshouses – one of them a ‘sunken’ glass house – to be restored along with the small boiler house and cold frames, creating a new public area in the Kitchen Garden.

The users of the community growing spaces will use the glasshouses to cultivate seedlings and grow crops previously unavailable to them.

Andrew Hunt, the National Trust’s Head Gardener at Kingston Lacy said: “The grant is good news in allowing us to restore the glasshouses and we will also be able to use them to support the growing spaces and for part of our garden training and formal education programmes.

“We want to make a difference, help our users learn more gardening techniques from seed propagation through to fruit and vegetable cultivation and stock.”

Work has already started on the buildings including an attempt to save a 100 year old Wisteria growing on the Orchid House. The plant has been pruned back and supported on a specially made frame.

“Saving the Wisteria is quite a challenge but we will try to keep it. We will also take similar care to keep as many features of the original buildings as we can – and restore others, such as replacing modern concrete tiles with recycled Victorian clay tiles,” added Andrew.

In the sunken glasshouse, overgrown ivy has been removed and the walls are being dismantled brick by brick so they can be rebuilt. Door frames have also been carefully dismantled so the new timbers can be made to match the originals closely.

The local community groups who use the kitchen garden are helping with some of the work, clearing the old ivy and will be helping to paint once the building work is complete.

“We are following the development of the Kitchen Garden in the Victorian era with this restoration. It would have started as a modest vegetable plot and then developed and grown with the addition of the glasshouses allowing the cultivation of rare plants and for plants to be grown throughout the year. Thanks to the grant allowing this work, our residents of the growing spaces plots will be able to grow a greater range of produce and for longer periods of time replicating that of a Victorian gardener when glasshouses were first introduced.”

Surplus from the plots is sold through the Kingston Lacy Kitchen Garden’s vegetable shop for the benefit of the individual plot owners. Already more than half of the visitors to Kingston Lacy visit the Kitchen Garden and Growing Spaces plots

Join in and help restore the glasshouses. There are open have a go sessions were visitors can join the National Trust building team to help reinstate the pointing on one of the glasshouses. 30 August and 6 September between 2pm and 4pm. No booking required.

More information is available on

Book shop raises cash for charity

Children learning about growing vegetables in the garden at Kingston Lacy, Dorset.

Improvements to the kitchen garden at the Kingston Lacy Estate are benefiting from the sale of unused or unwanted second hand books – and more are needed. 

The second hand book shop, based in the kitchen garden of the National Trust estate, has been a great success and has helped to raise £3,600 during the last year. The money has contributed to laying new paths around the area and improving visitor access and there are also two new toy tractors for the ever popular play area. 

However the Gardens & Countryside team are now running low on old, unloved favourite titles to help fund further projects and continue the great restoration work that takes place on site. 2013 will see continued improvement in the kitchen garden as well as hopefully installing a new duck pen to expand the farm yard animal trial already established with pigs and chickens.

Rob Greenhalgh, Outdoor Experience Coordinator, said “The kitchen garden is now developing in to a real focal point for the property and many of our visitors are seeing the benefit of contributing to beautiful projects such as these. The second hand bookshop has had a fantastic start and the support we received from local residents and visitors in our last ‘book hunt’ campaign will hopefully be seen again.” 

Books can be delivered to the Gardens & Countryside Office, Hillbutts, Blandford Road, Wimborne, BH21 4DS between 9am-4pm

More information on the estate is available on

Dog owners urged to help protect cattle

Dog owners are being urged to pick up after their pets, to protect the pedigree cattle herd at Kingston Lacy from the spread of an infection.

Two cattle in the prize-winning Red Devon cattle herd have been found with Neospora caninum, which is spread from dog poo.

Although the meat is still perfectly safe to eat, having two of the herd’s 52 cattle infected could affect the breeding line of the pedigree herd if it continues to spread.

Neospora is a parasite which infects the cattle after eggs in the dog poo get left in the grass they graze on. Neospora can cause weak calves and abortions and there is no known cure.

Peter Samson, the National Trust’s Head Ranger at Kingston Lacy said the best way to protect the herd from further infection is for anybody walking their dog to pick up any dog poo and put it in the dog waste bins.

“Our dog bins do already get well used but it only needs one or two owners to not pick up after their pets to put decades of work in caring for this herd at risk. We would appeal to all dog owners to please pick up every time when walking their dogs. Making sure they are wormed regularly will also help to prevent the spread of diseases such as this.

The Neospora parasite has been found in two of the cattle in the Kingston Lacy’s prized herd. Blood tests have been carried out on all 52 cattle to confirm the disease.

The Kingston Lacy estate has had a herd of Red Devon Cattle since 1895, making it one of the oldest in the country. The herd are regular prize winners, recently winning an award as the best herd of Red Devon cattle inDorsetfrom the Devon Cattle Breeders’ Society.

The biggest worry is that the disease can be passed on from the cows to their calves, meaning new animals born into a herd can only be used for beef, rather than to further develop the breed.

“The Red Devon cattle are a feature of Kingston Lacy as much as the house or the gardens,” added Peter.

“As well as being recognised as being fine quality examples of the breed, it is important as a feature people expect to see when they visit. We will do everything we can to ensure the future of the herd here but we also need the help and support of dog walkers in doing that.”


Trees being felled on Beech Avenue at Kingston Lacy

Work has just started on the famous beech avenue at Kingston Lacy to maintain the safety of the 180 year-old avenue of beech trees.

The work, which will involve felling of five trees, includes carrying out remedial tree surgery work to 70 of the 500 trees in the avenue.

Work started on Monday and will continue for up to two weeks.

Peter Samson, Head Ranger at Kingston Lacy said: “This is a much-loved avenue, planted back in 1835, but unfortunately now many of the trees are dying from a combination of old age, disease and climate changes.

“The work we are carrying out will keep the avenue safe for people driving along the B3082 and help to ensure that the remaining trees survive for as long as possible

“We know how much people love the avenue but since beech trees normally only have a lifespan of around 200 years and they are suffering from many factors, not least pollution from traffic on the road.”

For the long term, the National Trust is planting an avenue of Hornbeams to replace the beech avenue, chosen because they will give the same seasonal colour and shape as the beech trees but are more tolerant of difficult conditions.

A birthday cedar for Kingston Lacy

Nigel Chalk and David Roberts (c) National Trust/ Michael Harry

To celebrate thirty years of the National Trust caring for Kingston Lacy a new cedar tree has been planted on the Cedar Walk in honour of the Bankes family and its generous gift to the nation.

 The Bankes’ Estate was given to the National Trust on 19 August 1982 and at 16,500 acres was the largest bequest it had ever accepted. In addition to the Kingston Lacy Estate it included land at Purbeck as well as Studland beach and Corfe Castle.

 On 20 August 1977 Ralph Bankes Esq. accepted a school leaver to work on his 8,500 acre Kingston Lacy estate team. Thirty five years on that school leaver, Nigel Chalk, is now the Gardens and Countryside Manager of Kingston Lacy Estate. He planted the new celebratory cedar to celebrate both the National Trust’s and his achievements in the twenty five square miles of  Dorset which forms a major part of the Bankes’ bequest.

David Roberts, General Manager at Kingston Lacy said: ‘From his first days of being thrown into the Home Farm slurry pit, Nigel’s been an integral part of the bequest and the Trust’s management of its largest working lowland estate. From carrying the Squire’s milk in a can from the farm to the Big House to running two departments, sixteen staff and over a hundred and forty volunteers, Nigel’s been a vital part of the property he came with.

 ‘It seems right to us that both “birthdays” should be celebrated at the same time – 12 noon on Sunday 19 August  – on the Walk that Nigel’s not only looked after on our behalf for the last thirty five years but that the Bankes’ always reserved for family, friends and royalty. Nigel qualifies to plant the cedar in two of those categories.’

 The 30th anniversary is also being celebrated at Purbeck where Studland residents can enjoy free use of the Old Coastguard hut at Middle Beach until October while residents of the parish of Corfe Castle are invited to a Medieval Village re-enactment on 18 August.