How lucky we were to chose the first sunny day for several weeks for Chairman’s Day at Buckland.
Our morning started at the home of our guide for the day – local historian Duncan Ferns. Yewdells is a Grade II listed building built in 1713 and we enjoyed our welcome tea and coffee in Duncan’s delightful garden, which he personally designed. That was not all – situated in the garden is the only surviving wind-powered sawmill in the UK. Built between 1860 and 1870, the mill powered a timber saw and was used by the Sanders family who ran their sawyers business from the site.
Duncan then led us a wonderful tour of Buckland Village, which included a visit to Buckland Parish Church.
There has been a church on this since the Domesday Book and probably earlier. Parts of the church are thought to have been built in 1380 although it was extensively refurbished in 1860.
Other highlights of the tour included a visit to the former Old Parsonage where we admired the original late Georgian frontage and the fabulous views across to the North Downs.
We also heard about and visited Buckland’s three village greens, which arose because the entire village was moved to avoid the Plague. The current green is idyllic with a an old timber barn and picturesque village pond along one edge and the Old School and a number of timbered cottages opposite.
Duncan then led us on a 30 minute across the fields and into the Buckland Estate, which is newly open to the public.
Here we enjoyed an excellent meal overlooking Park Lake, which was a former gravel pit. Buckland Sand has been quarried since the 1920’s. Sand extraction activities were completed in 2014 and whole area has been sensitively restored with a view to reintroding biodiversity. Over 100 bird species have been recorded in the area.
Duncan was ideally placed to tell us all about the area as he was the Estate Manager until very recently. The newly opened Cliffe Cafe served an excellent meal and most of us felt the need to stretch our legs for 40 minutes around the perimeter of the Lake before returning to our cars.
All in all a fabulous day which will be remembered by all for some time to come.
Gordon Jackson, Chairman
This excellent walk was led by Mike Waite, Living Landscapes Officer at the Surrey Wildlife Trust. The weather was perfect for butterflies but Mike is hugely knowledgeable about all wildlife and gave us a real insight into the ecology of the area.
We saw several species of butterfly including the Common Blue, the Speckled Wood and the Red Admiral. We also heard about work of the Butterfly Conservation Trust and the Stepping Stones Project, which is designed to create chalk scrapes planted with kidney vetch, the sole food plant of the Small Blue butterfly. These scrapes have been created at strategic spots between Pewley Down in the West and Denbies Hillside in the East to encourage the colonies that exist in these two places to spread out across the North Downs.
Quite apart from the flora and fauna, we also heard about the history of the Netley Estate particularly during the First and Second World Wars and stood on one of a number of pillboxes that are built on the North Downs ridge to enjoy breathtaking views of Shere and the surrounding countryside beneath us.
Mike also introduced us to several species of Orchid. The Bee Orchid was a special find. This is a fine example of a highly evolved mutual relationship where the plant relys on floral mimicry by imitating the bee upon which it is dependent for pollination.
Gordon Jackson Chairman
A FREE Community Forum for parish councils, community groups in the Surrey Hills and all Surrey Hills Society members.
About this event
The Surrey Hills AONB Board and the Surrey Association of Local Councils will be hosting an online Community Forum for parish councils and community groups on Thursday 29 July.
This will be an opportunity to hear about the Surrey Hills Boundary Extension, Making Space for Nature – Greening Communities and the work of the Surrey Hills Family.
Welcome and introduction
Liz Cutter, Vice President of SALC and Surrey Hills AONB Board
Update on the Surrey Hills
Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills AONB Director
Surrey Hills Boundary Extension
Heather Kerswell,Surrey Hills AONB Chair
Clive Smith, Surrey Hills Planning Adviser
Making Space for Nature – Greening Communities
Liz Cutter, Vice President of SALC and Surrey Hills AONB Board
Caroline Price, Surrey Hills AONB
Anne Bott,Deputy CEO SALC
To book a place, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/surrey-hills-community-forum-2021-tickets-160542118799
Here are a few photographs taken during our visit to the Langley Vale Centenary Wood, Ashtead, guided by volunteers from the Woodland Trust today.
Thanks to Sall and Gordon for the photos and Gilly for organising the visit.
What a fantastic walk we had ambling along with bird enthusiast, Chris Burchell. We started watching buzzards hovering gracefully over the car park and learnt so much from Chris about some of our common woodland species. We paid a visit to the lakes, originally installed by the monks of Chertsey Abbey to provide fish for food, and now the home of 9 Canadian goslings as well as a number of mallard and a coot.
However the best was yet to come. Chris led us towards the area called “the Plains” where we were incrediby lucky to hear a nightingale singing strongly. A fantastic experience – there are only 50 pairs in Surrey and the nightingales only re-appeared at Bookham 3 days ago afgter an estimated 7 year absence. Yet this was not the end. After a heavy shower Chris spotted a lesser whitethroat which is also extremely rare and which the whole group were able to watch through binoculars.
All in all a wonderful morning and many many thanks to Chris for giving up his time and sharing his great expertise.
All was going well and then.
10 minutes later!
Surrey Hills Society members spent a fascinating afternoon at Brookwood Cemetery on Saturday 1st May as part of the Surrey Day celebrations.
Although not in the Surrey Hills, Brookwood Cemetery is a hidden gem hidden in the countryside just outside Woking. It is the largest necropolis in western Europe and has many listed mausoleums and statues. It is also a Grade 1 Listed arboretum and is a wonderful place to walk through.
The Brookwood Cemetery Society was formed in April 1992. It works to promote the wider interest in the cemetery which the Society believes should be a site of national importance. Moreover, the site has the potential to become a World Heritage Site. The Society seeks to ensure the long term future of Brookwood Cemetery. It assists with maintenance, clearance and restoration work and it helps relatives locate graves within the site. It also works to ensure the cemetery remains a valuable haven for flora and fauna.
Left to right Volunteer Co ordinator for Brookwood Cemetery Society volunteers , Kim Lowe, outgoing High Sheriff, Shahid Azeem, Mel from BBC Radio Surrey and our Chairman Gordon Jackson.
We were also joined by the outgoing High Sheriff, Shahid Azeem, a British-Pakistani entrepreneur, who left school without a single curricular qualification and went on to run a football club. He was appointed High Sheriff for Surrey for 2020 – a direct servant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is an esteemed position that dates back more than 1000 years and there are only 45 High Sheriffs, out of a national population of more than 70 million. Shahid Azeem is the first male of Pakistani origin ever to hold the Royally-appointed title of High Sheriff.
Shahid Azeem arrived in Britain in 1969 as a 9 years old son of a migrant from the city of MatoreThesilKahuta in Pakistan. He was expelled from school at the age of 12, faced bullying and racism but joined a computer system company to make an independent living. He started selling fish and chips at a local ship. His father worked at British Rail as a porter and family lived in a 2 bedroom house shared with others in Guildford. A determined Shahid Azeem went on from doing menial jobs to building a multi-million pound IT business.
Shahid Azeem loved football in his youth and started playing for local teams. He went on to become chairman of National League outfit Aldershot Town.He has also recently been appointed as an independent Director of Woking Necropolis and Mausoleum Limited.
Shahid spoke to our members about his time as High Sheriff during this challenging year . He spoke of the real community spirit he witnessed during Lockdown and hoped it would continue post the pandemic.
Thanks to our Vice President Chris for organising a very enjoyable visit with tea and cakes afterwards.
It was great to be out and about again with all our members again. This month our free walk on the first Sunday of the month was to Staffhurst Wood to enjoy the incredible bluebell display. This site managed by Surrey County Council is home to one of the best displays of bluebells in Surrey. We walked for over an hour and everywhere we looked was just a carpet of blue. Incredible that this woodland wonderland was clear felled in the 1930s and then used as a munitions dump and Canadian camp during WW2.
The small fields amongst the woodlands were clearings made some 700 years ago, called ‘assarts’ The area has been managed to try and restore some of the original character of the area which is now home to over 200 plant species and 288 species of moths. Due to several ponds on the area the woods are also a haven for amphibians.
There was no trouble being socially distanced and observing the rule of 6 yesterday as 50 Surrey Hills Society members were able to enjoy a private visit to Dunsborough Park. The sunshine was a bonus and highlighted the fabulous display of colour from the tremenous variety of tulips. We thought we would share a few photographs with you.
It’s always nice to receive feedback from our members and we have already had an email to say “Seeing an outstanding display of tulips, and your friendly faces was a real tonic. Thank you so much.”