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Showing posts from February, 2018

Tolworth Treasure and the Hogsmill Hum Walk 2: The Edgelands

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The second  walk in the series presented by myself and walking artist Lucy Furlong, was designed to
highlight features in the Tolworth Edgelands and it's environs. The edgelands are a window through social and cultural history; as well as being a reservoir for the shyer species of animals and birds, such as badger, deer, kestrels and buzzards etc. Tolworth was an inspiration to the nature writer - Richard Jefferies (see previous post), and we followed in his footsteps, as well as navigating the informal pathways and desire lines made by  animals, birds, and people.

Tithe maps and the tithe apportionment are sound  documents for historical research regarding past land use; as well as dissertations available in the Local History Room (at the back of the Guildhall); one comprises a series of interviews with staff that lived and worked in the Worcester Park. This included the silk printing mill whose remnants exist at the Bristows haulage yard and until 2017, the mill wheel lay in t…

Richard Jefferies in Tolworth 1877-1882

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Jefferies' biographical sources (Thomas, Besant and Looker) - agree that his years in Tolworth were his most creative - those between 1877-1882.  He lived at number 2 Woodside (now 296 Ewell Road and an estate agents) for which he typically paid around £28 annual rent.

It was described as abutting a copse in 'Round About a London Copse'. Despite his daily walks around Tolworth (up to ten miles per day) his initial focus remained on the Wiltshire agricultural landscape, which he had recently left. The 'Future of Dairy', for the Livestock Almanac was his last essay on agriculture. Jefferies was encouraged by his publishers to write about his observations in the north Surrey landscape, as there was a market for this information amongst the suburban commuters.


In  'The Crows', published in The Standard November 1880, he wrote,' the numerous pieces of waste ground, to let on building lease, the excavated ground where rubbish heaps can be thrown, the refuse …

Lady of the Butterflies

I read this book when it was first published. Set in the ancient marshlands of Somerset, in the shadow of the English Civil War, 'Lady of the Butterflies' tells the story of Eleanor Glanville, the first English female lepidopterist. The Glanville Fritillery butterfly was named after her https://butterfly-conservation.org
The daughter of a strict puritan, her longing for colour and brightness lead her to an obsession with butterflies. During this period butterfly hunting was seen as a purely masculine pursuit, something no woman in her right mind would ever consider, as it could lead to accusations of  witchcraft and madness. 
She kept accurate records of laval food plants and reared a number of species which are identifiable on account of her accurate records. Some of her collection is available at the Natural History Museum.
This is a link to a radio 4 segment on where author Fiona Mountain to discuss the life of lepidopterist Lady Eleanor Glanville. http://www.bbc.co.uk/rad…

The Trees of Kingston Cemetery

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Conceived in 1854, Kingston Cemetery along Bonner Hill Road, Norbiton comprises 32 acres of parkland and was opened in 1855. Burials include Thomas Hansard recorder of Parliamentary debates, A.C. Ranyard editor of Truth magazine and Dr Joseph Moloney, an African explorer. The only bronze is the tomb of Dorothy Burton 1908 - a listed monument cast at her parents foundry in Thames Ditton. I love searching the council website for grave records
For many years the cemetery was a special plot in the national Common Bird Census surveys convened by the British Trust for Ornithology. It was started by Duncan McNeil, and Surbiton and District Birdwatching Society, which I participated in during the 1980's and 90's; we have about twenty years of  good data for birds (and plants). If you put 'cemetery' into the search box at the top left corner several posts on the wax caps and roll rims; orange peel and honey fungus appear - but very little on it's trees  - and predictably …