What better way to start 2018 than with a New Year’s Day guided walk around Woodlands Farm? Hannah from the farm sent details:
New Year’s Day Guided Walk Monday 1st January 2018 11am – 12.30pm
Start the year with a bracing stroll around Woodlands Farm- a winter guided walk to counter the seasonal excesses. This will be an easy paced walk to look at the farm and animals in winter and the way the farm works with nature. Please wear suitable clothing and footwear for walking across fields. This walk is not suitable for children under 10 years. Meet outside the cafe in the farmyard. Free, donations welcome.
For more information, see our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Woodlands Farm is located on the borders of the London boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich. At 89 acres, it is the largest city farm in the UK. Our priorities are education and conservation, and we are part of the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. Our education programme attracts visitors from pre-school to third-age groups. The Trust aims to involve local community groups, schools, volunteers and businesses in farming and conservation, helping to bridge the current town-country divide.
While at the farm there’s a chance to see two new calves: crosses between the farm’s British Whites cows, Snowdrop and Honeysuckle and Aberdeen Angus bulls. There may even be a third calf by Monday as the farm’s other British White, Clover is due to give birth any day.
This year’s Christmas card photographs are of some of the lights that decorate the houses in Shooters Hill and Plumstead. They range from the sublime to the spectacular, from elegant monochrome Christmas trees to crowded front gardens full of brightly lit snowmen and santas. Thanks to everyone who entertains us in this way; their electricity bills must be horrendous.
A new group, the Friends of Oxleas Woodlands has been set up to help look after our precious local woodlands. Tom wrote to tell me about the group:
The group is evolving out of and alongside the Shooters Hill Woods Working Party, and is a response to what we see as the growing threat to the woodlands from a wide range of sources, and to the Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees initiative. We are working with the Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Dept. and are in the process of recruiting members.
The friends are actively looking for members and have been out in the woods and at the Oxleas Cafe encouraging people who use the woods to join. It is also possible to join through the contact page on their website.
The web site also lists the group’s objectives:
a) To assist with the general management of the woodlands
b) Undertake conservation and practical maintenance (through the Shooters Hill Woodlands Working Party)
c) Undertake activities to support the use and enjoyment of the woodlands, focussing on both adult and children’s engagement with the woodlands
d) Provide a focus for local (and wider) support for the woodlands and to build links with local residents, schools, businesses and other organisations
e) Undertake cultural activities to encourage knowledge, appreciation and personal investment in the history, flora and fauna and general environment of the woodlands
The Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees initiative “was launched in Lincoln Castle on 6 November 2017; the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.” This Charter signed in 1217 by Henry III protected common people’s rights such as ‘pannage’ (grazing for pigs), ‘estover’ (collecting firewood), ‘agistment’ (grazing) and ‘turbary’ (cutting of turf for fuel). The new one aims to celebrate the importance and value of woodlands to people today and to protect trees and woods from the threats of development, disease and climate change.
Father Christmas makes his annual visit to Woodlands Farm on Sunday when they hold their Christmas Fair. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Christmas Fair. Come and meet Father Christmas, sip mulled wine whilst browsing stalls of local produce and crafts for early Christmas present ideas, or relax in our café while the kids enjoy crafts and games. A great festive day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome – all money raised helps us to care for our animals. A great family day out!
Admission is free, though donations are welcome, and the event runs from 11.00am to 3.00pm.
Apologies to regular readers of e-shootershill that the blog has been unavailable for the last few weeks. Our hosting company decided to cease trading and we’ve had a few technical difficulties moving the site to a new host. There’s still one or two things to sort out, for example not all images are displaying at the moment, but we’ll get those fixed as soon as we can.
In the meantime here’s a couple of photos to prepare you for Sunday: some of the Christmas craft gifts created by farm volunteers, including the snowmen with wonderful trompe-l’œil carrot noses and one of the farm’s sheep in the snow. Newshopper are reporting that London might have snow in the next couple of days.
There’s lots going on at Woodlands Farm during October: a Hedgerow Liqueurs course on Sunday, the annual Apple Day fête, half-term activities for children and the regular range of ecological surveys.
Hannah, the Education Officer at the farm, wrote with details of the Hedgerow Liqueurs course:
Sunday 8th October 2017 12.00—4.30pm
Price £12 (£8 members) 18+ years only
Sloes are scarce, so we will be using a mixture of fresh picked fruit and frozen fruit, to make together our delicious sloe gin this year, in good time for Christmas
Bring your own gin or spirit of choice together with at least a one litre, wide neck (>2.5cm) container. Kilner type jars, 1.5 litre, will be available at cost price. Sugar and sloes will be provided by Woodlands Farm.
Book early via the Farm Office, numbers limited
This is followed by the annual Apple Day fair on the following Sunday:
Join us for a celebration of traditional British apples on Sunday 15th October 2017, from 11am-4pm. Discover and buy many different types of traditional British apples. There will be a variety of activities including a treasure hunt, apple pressing to make delicious juice, stalls selling local produce, including our own honey and home-made jams, cakes and try some Kentish Cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and go towards the running of the Farm. No parking on site. Please use public transport.
Archy, the farm’s new Manx Loaghtan ram, should be out in the field with the ewes by then: he’s getting a bit frustrated in his current home in the barn. The farm will also be getting some longhorn cattle soon as they start to focus more on rare breed animals.
At the end of the month it’s half term week, and as usual the Farm have laid on some interesting and educational activities for children. Again Hannah wrote with the details:
October Half Term Events
Wednesday 25th October Farm Rhymes and Riddles 1pm-3pm £2 per child
Test your skills at solving rhymes and riddles as you try our trail. Can you figure out what animal each riddle is about, while exploring the farm. Work them all out and get a prize! There will also be a chance to meet some of our animals. No need to book just drop in.
Thursday 26th October Leaf Lanterns 10am – 12noon and 1pm-3pm £4 per child
Join us for an autumn walk round the farm to find out about different types of trees and leaves. We will be collecting what we find to then use to make and decorate a leaf lantern to take home. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.
Friday 27th October Halloween Trail and crafts 11am-3pm £3 per child.
Halloween is just round the corner so join us for a day of spooky crafts. There will be a creepy animal facts trail round the farm where you can find out all the gruesome and scary things about British wildlife. Come dressed up to get in the full spooky spirit. No need to book, just drop in.
The farm’s regular schedule of ecological surveys continues through the month. Previous months have seen surveys of pond life, bees, moths, bats and wild flower meadow plants (lots of magical missile-repelling Corky Fruited Water Dropworts), and the first mammal surveys. The mammal surveys continue this month and there is the last of the monthly bee walks of 2017. The currently planned survey activities for October are:
Wednesday 11th October 3.30pm – Mammal survey setting up traps
Thursday 12th October, 9am – Mammal survey collect traps
Tuesday 17th October, 3.30pm – Mammal survey setting up traps
Wednesday 18th October 9am – Mammal survey, collect traps
Wednesday 18th October, 2pm – Bee walk – last of the year
Monday 30th October, 10am – Dipping pond maintenance. Wellies or waders recommended!
It is 20 years since the Woodlands Farm Trust was established to run the farm following the successful People Against the River Crossing campaign to save the farm and Oxleas Wood from being destroyed to create a motorway, and as part of their celebrations the farm are holding a Family Fun Day this Sunday, 10th September.
Hannah, the Education Officer at the farm wrote with details:
Woodlands Farm 20th Anniversary Family Fun Day
Sunday 10th September 11am-3pm
Woodlands Farm is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Join the celebrations by coming along to our Family Fun Day. Find out all about how the farm was saved 20 years ago as well as what is involved in the day to day running of the farm with a chance to meet the animals and find out about animal care. There also will be guided foraging walks and apple pressing. Our activities include children’s crafts, trails, vintage tractors and lots more for all the family. On the day we will be collecting memories from people who remember the farm from years ago or even memories of recent years. If you previously volunteered or assisted the farm please join us at our memories area to catch up with old faces and share your experiences at the farm. A fun day out for all the family! This event is free, but donations are welcome.
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on email@example.com
It’ll be fascinating to find out more about the events that led to the farm and woods being saved for the local community.
Thu 31st Aug 19:30 – 21:00 Join us for a bat walk around the farm. Woodlands Farm has a number of different species of bats, using bat detectors we will try to find some. The walk will start at 7.45pm. Please bring a torch and wear sturdy shoes. £6 adults, £4 per child. Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.
Friday 1 September 8.00 pm Shrewsbury Park
• Walk is free to members, £2 others (but free to join on the day)
• Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather
• Children must be accompanied by an adult
• Walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and torches are helpful
• Dogs must be kept on a lead
If you have mobility issues or enquiries please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you participate. The trail is a mix of paved path, gravel and grass.
If it’s raining, neither the bats nor us will be coming out!
Meet in the car park for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the Park at sunset using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
It’s been a good year for bats in my experience. The National Bat Monitoring Programmefield surveys in July went well. At Woodlands Farm volunteers detected a good number of pipistrelles, and also overflying noctules. We even detected pipistrelles in our Canning Town survey area which in previous years has had none, or perhaps a single pipistrelle detected at Canning Town Recreation Ground. It doesn’t help that the area has the noisy and polluting A13 running through it. There were also quite a few pipistrelles in the May Shrewsbury Park bat walk. As a bonus hedgehogs were seen at both the farm and Shrewsbury Park.
One of my batty highlights of this summer was a bat walk at South Mere in Thamesmead led by Karen Sutton the Biodiversity Team Manager at Thames Water. There are lots, and I mean lots of insects flying over and around the lake, and these attract a large number of bats: noctules and the larger bats and possibly Daubenton’s bats over the water and common and soprano pipistrelles in the lakeside trees. It was a spectacular display of agile bats flying close to us spectators, and so many that it was difficult to distinguish their calls on our bat detectors to decide exactly which bat species were present.
The highlight this year so far though was our waterway survey along the River Cray near Hall Place. For the first time since the Waterway Survey has been carried out here there were definite detections and sightings of Daubenton’s bats feeding over the river. They flit about very close to the water surface capturing their insect prey using their large feet or tail membranes. I recorded some of the echolocation calls using my new toy, a Peersonic bat recorder: the result is shown in the trace below which was analysed using the Audacity free audio editing software. I can foresee hours of fun analysing the details of bat calls!
The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding another of their marvellous summer festivals this Sunday, 9th July. The event kicks off with the official opening of the new drinking fountain, The Watering Hole, at 12.30pm by the Mayor of Woolwich, Peter Brooks along with “at least two” of our local Councillors. The new fountain was partly funded by the councillors’ ward budgets as well as money raised over the years by the Friends.
This year’s festival is packed with events and music. As well as the amazing dog show, there will be community stalls, crafts people, ice cream, face painting and yoga. Local Tai Chi teacher Dorothy Ng will present a Tai Chi demonstration from 1pm to 1.30pm, and the StepZ Dance troupe will be showing their skills. Intriguingly Emergency Exit Arts will be revealing the secret life the urban meerkat in their Meerkat Menagerie and the astronomers of the Royal Observatory’s Flamsteed Society will be bringing along their specialist telescopes and equipment for some solar observing.
Musical entertainment will be provided by Jazz Nights, folk duo Pytchwood, Susan Turner and Mark (Gilly) Evans of the Gillies and the Bexley Ukulele Band.
Registration for entry to the dog show events starts at 12.30pm, costing £2.00 per class, with the following competitions:
Woolwich Opera Works will be presenting an Opera Gala to celebrate 150 years of All Saints Shooters Hill next Sunday, 25th June at 4pm at All Saints Church. The concert was almost cancelled because of the very sad news that Sally Silver, one of WOW’s founders had been diagnosed with Glioblasoma Grade 4 brain tumour. Geoff Sheath emailed the news:
We have long had plans for an Opera Gala to celebrate our 150th anniversary but at the very moment that we were due to send out invitations Sally Silver, who is organising the music for us, was taken seriously ill. After extensive tests tragically she was diagnosed with brain cancer and the prognosis is not good.. We seriously considered cancelling the Gala but Sally has been determined to go ahead. She is continuing to sing as well as ever as she awaits treatment. She would be so encouraged if the event were a sell-out, so I hope you are still able to come, and will encourage your friends and family to come too.
Tea, coffee and cakes will be served in the interval to help cover our expenses and there will be a retiring collection to cover the musicians’ expenses. Any surplus will go to Brain Tumour Research.
The tradition is that people dress up for Opera Galas. Don’t worry if you can’t but if you can that would be fabulous! Better still, wear a hat – the symbol of Brain Tumour research.
The concert will include operatic highlights such as: Rigoletto quartet (Verdi); Lakmé Flower Duet (Delibes); and The Pearl Fishers duet (Bizet), and features an international line up of soloists, led by Jeremy Silver at the piano, including bass-baritone Tony Baker, mezzo soprano Carolyn Dobbin, soprano Carole Irvine, baritone Alejandro Lopez Montoya, tenor Dominic Natoli and Sally Silver herself.
Entrance to the concert is free, and tickets aren’t essential, but if you would like to reserve a seat you can do so at https://billetto.co.uk/en/e/opera-gala-to-celebrate-150-years-of-all-saints-shooters-hill-tickets-199612 There was a standing ovation at Woolwich Opera Works’ last marvellous concert at All Saints, Incanto: The Magic of Naples, and this one is bound to be very popular, so I’d recommend booking a ticket beforehand.
There is a justgiving page to raise funds to support Sally in her fight against brain cancer here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Glioblastomablasted
There are some more photographs taken at WOW’s Incanto concert on flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-shootershill/
I was slightly surprised to hear that All Saints was 150 years old: the church looks much more modern than that, so I headed down to the Greenwich Heritage Centre to find out about its history. There, I found that I was partly correct: the archives included a pamphlet entitled: “Consecration of New Church Saturday 6th July 1957 The original church consecrated in 1881, was destroyed by enemy action in 1944”. This contained a history of the church from its origins in 1867, starting with this passage:
In 1867, when a zealous Diocesan Missioner came searching for a place in which to set up the banner of Jesus Christ he found lightly wooded country where now we have our hilly streets and closely packed houses. A large meadow extended from what is now Eglinton Hill to Plum Lane and a country lane led up from Herbert Road to Shrewsbury Lane with a stile where now we have the junction of Genesta Road and Eglinton Hill. The area was sprinkled with a few cottage houses, but there were no houses at all on what is now called Ripon Road.
According to David Lloyd Bathe’s “Steeped in History” the country lane leading up to Shrewsbury Lane was Mayplace Lane. The diocesan missioner, the Rev. William Nesbit McGuiness, set up a church in a large tent at the top of Eglinton Hill, where the fire station flats now stand. He attracted a congregation of 200 people to hear him preach. In 1868 an iron building was erected lower down the hill which was used as a church until the Rev. McGuiness was given grants to buy the plot of land between Cantwell and Herbert roads and build a day school there. This was completed in 1872.
The Rev. McGuiness then took on the task of raising money to build a church next to the school. For several year he wrote, by hand, an average of 10,000 letters a year asking for money for the church. He received about £9000 in donations from all over Britain, as well as from Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The first part of the church, the nave, was consecrated in 1875 and the final part of the building, the tower consecrated on 11th April 1881. A sketch of the Rev. McGuiness’ All Saints Church from the Greenwich Heritage Centre is shown below, and there is a coloured photo taken from “Steeped in History” further down. It was located higher up Ripon Road than the current church, as can be seen in the bomb damage map.
During the war the church was hit a number of times, but was repaired by the vicar, the Rev W.H.G. Gilbert and his team of volunteers. It was finally destroyed on 30th August 1944. The snippet from the LCC bomb damage map below shows the church near the top and the day school to its North. Heavy damage is shown in darker colours, with black indicating “total Destruction”, purple “damaged beyond repair” and red “seriously damaged – doubtful if repairable”. The circle indicates a V2 rocket hit which, “Steeped in History” says was what finally destroyed the old All Saints Church.
The All Saints congregation kept going with services held in temporary buildings such as an iron building at the junction between Eglinton Hill and Cantwell Road for 4 years until 1948 and then in the church hall which the civil authorities had been using during the war. Over the years the congregation donated £5000 to the rebuilding fund which augmented the war damage allocation. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 18th February 1956 and the consecration took place on 6th July 1957, almost 60 years ago – a second anniversary to be celebrated.
The new church was built down the hill on the site of the destroyed day school near the junction of Ripon Road and Herbert Road. The architect was Thomas F. Ford who, according to wikipedia “was a prolific ecclesiastical architect, Diocesan Architect for Southwark, an Ashpitel Prize winner at the Royal Institute of British Architects, founder of Thomas Ford Architects and with his brother Ralph, who owned the largest and most complete collection of English Bibles in England, a translator in 1948 of the New Testament.” He was also the architect for the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Welling and All Saints Church at New Eltham. In the consecration pamphlet Thomas described the architecture of All Saints Shooters Hill as follows:
The architectural style of the building is derived from the Greek Classic of the early 19th century, modified and adapted to suit modern materials and requirements. What little detail there is of mouldings and enrichments retains that precision of line and care for proportion which earned for this style the title of “The Reign of Elegance”.
The east wall of the church is covered with a painting by Hans Feibusch. Hans was an artist and sculptor who was best known for his murals in Anglican churches: he worked in 28 UK churches as a muralist. Originally from Germany, and of Jewish heritage, he came to Britain in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Thomas Ford, who often worked with Hans, described the All Saints’ mural in the consecration pamphlet:
The East wall is covered with a large painting by Mr. Hans Feibusch depicting the Ascension scene with Our Lord in the act of going up into Heaven. Below him are two angel figures speaking to the assembled disciples, who are in postures that suggest wonder, adoration and worship. This work is painted direct upon the plaster wall, and in form and colour makes a magnificent end to the church. The colouring of the rest of the interior has been most carefully considered so as to enhance, and not conflict, with the riot of colour on the East wall.
Hans’ mural will provide the backdrop to WOW’s singers in what I’m sure will be another excellent concert on Sunday. Don’t forget to wear a hat.
Woodlands Farm‘s annual Summer Show is next Sunday, 11th June, between 11.00am and 4.30pm, and entry is free. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:
The Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show is on Sunday 11th June from 11:00am-4:30 pm.
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show. Come and meet our animals and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey. Relax in our café to live music by The Short ‘n Curlies, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts. Entry is free, donations are always welcome. All proceeds go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. There is no parking on the farm, please use public transport.
The Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show is combined with Open Farm Sunday again this year, so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing and rural crafts.
Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day, and hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. Open farms are listed on Open Farm Sunday‘s website. The event is organised by the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) charity.
The farm is a registered charity and relies on events such as the Summer Show to raise funds to continue to operate. It’s their 20th anniversary this year, the farm trust was founded in 1997, so a good time to show your support.
A couple of weeks after the Summer Show the farm host the latest of their regular series of guided walks, the Mid-Summer Hay Meadow Walk. Hannah sent details:
Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk
Sunday 25th June, 10am
Join us for a leisurely stroll through our Hay Meadows. In June the meadows are full of wild flowers and an array of different types of grasses. Find out how we manage these hay meadows throughout the year and about some of the lovely plants you will find there. The walk will start at 10am, meeting at the Green Building in the Farm yard. This event is free, although as a charity we do appreciate donations. Unfortunately, this walk is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
For more information, see our website or email email@example.com
The Farm manages the grass in their fields either by grazing with their cows and sheep or by cutting hay with tractors and mowers in mid-summer and they don’t use any fertilizers or herbicides on the farm. This type of management enables the wild flowers and grasses to produce their seed ready to grow again next year, resulting in a large diversity of flowers, grasses and sedges in the fields and meadows, which in turn supports many species of insects. The Farm is part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme which encourages farmers to manage their land sensitively, to benefit wildlife and the local environment. This walk is a good chance to learn more about the meadows and how they are managed, and enjoy some beautiful countryside.