The National Trust is reconstructing a 19th-century landscape in Norfolk using an Edwardian survey map and aerial photographs taken by the Royal Air Force after the second world war.
The £190,000 project at Oxburgh Hall, which will take a decade to complete, will replant native trees in the Grade II-listed landscape, making it one of the largest wood pastures the charity has ever created.
Most of the parkland around the hall was lost when it was auctioned off for farmland in the 1950s, but thanks to some historical detective work, the charity is confident it will be able to restore the site back to its heyday.
The conservationist and historian Dr Sarah Rutherford, who has researched the project, said: “Using an Ordnance Survey map from 1904, we have been able to research details of how the landscape looked when it was at its peak. We’ve also used RAF aerial photographs from 1946 which show the park before its sale in 1951 which clearly show numerous trees.”
The project team used the sales details for trees sold at auction for timber to identify individual locations and species of trees for replanting, although they have made some changes to account for the impacts of climate change and ash dieback where the historic species would no longer thrive.
Tom Day, an area ranger who is overseeing the project, said: “It’s incredibly exciting, being able to actually restore the swathe of old farmland back to what it would have been in its heyday. It will become an immersive historical experience where people can experience the estate as it would have been.”
The National Trust bought Oxburgh Hall, home to the Bedingfeld family for 500 years, in 1951 to save it from demolition. However, much of its original 1,442-hectare (3,563 acre) estate was sold at auction, and most of the parkland around the hall converted to intensive arable farmland. [see the ful article]