Feeling festive in the park

At Charlecote Park we have over 250 acres of parkland, 180 fallow deer and 170 Jacob sheep. One of our key responsibilities is to make sure that the park is safe and that all of our livestock is fed and well. To do this we complete a full park check every morning 365 days a year.

I was looking after the park and garden on Saturday so the park check was my responsibility. Now normally I can be stuck in the office all day so a morning in the park is a special treat.

My first job is to feed the deer in West Park. This really is the best way to start the day because the herd love the deer nuts and they will let you get extra close to them. Whilst they are feeding we check the deer to make sure that they are all well and healthy.  This is key at this time of year because most of the does will be pregnant and the bucks (male fallow deer) have just come out of the rut which means that they will have lost a lot of body weight.

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After checking the herd it’s off round the rest of the Park to make sure the trees are safe – We have over one thousand parkland trees and around 250 of these are classed as ancient, veteran and notable.  We also check all of our fences on a daily basis.

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Next stop Polo Field to check the Sheep. We keep our rams and breeding ewes here. We have recently finished tupping so all of our girls are painted in red, green or blue depending in which ram they were put with. We are looking forward to lambing starting in early April

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However it’s not all about the parkland so after completing my rounds I went to help Tim, our Assistant Visitor Services Manager, put up a gazebo on the Cedar Lawn ready for the brass band. After this we popped in to the grotto to make sure that Santa and his elf was ok and ready for all of the day’s visitors.

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And finally it’s back to the office where we are met by Jana our lovely volunteer photographer. She had brought us in a huge box of delicious handmade chocolates – I think that it would be considered rude not to try one (or two!)

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So the brass band is playing Christmas tunes, Santa is in his grotto, the deer are fed, my multi coloured sheep are happy, all is well in the park and we have a lovely big box of chocs.

Some days I think that I have the best job in the world!

Lisa, Park & Garden Manager

Charlecote Lambs and a very talented young photographer

We are really lucky to have a wonderful team of volunteers at Charlecote. They help us with every aspect of running the property and we literally wouldn’t be able to open the doors with out them!

Last month we recruited our newest and youngest volunteer to the Park and Garden team. His name is Alex and he is six years old.

Alex is one of our new official volunteer photographers and he has started visiting Charlecote with his father, Kieran to take photographs that we can use on our website and posters.

 Kieran and Alex visited us in Polo field recently to take some photos of our new lambs. These are Alex’s first photos…

Today I went to see the Charlecote Park lambs.  I saw 2 new born lambs that were 1 hour old. They were really cute.  I watched them run super-fast.  I lay on the grass and  took some photographs.

 Alex S-M (aged 6)”

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Alex S-M - Lambs

As a ‘thank you’ to our volunteers we try to offer special events and opportunities to see a bit more of our work. This week we took a small group to see the lambs in polo field. Our Administrator – Ruth, armed with a camera took some short film sequences. The first of which you can see below…

Lisa, Park and Garden Manager

2012: A year in one post

2012 was a great year for Charlecote. We’ve had some ups and downs, babies, flooding, big projects (and headaches) and an awful lot of fun too! Here is just a flavour of 2012 at Charlecote Park…

January – Our year began with us taking time as a team to do some training together. We are rarely all in one place at one time as Charlecote is such a busy site! All of our permanent team – as we were at the beginning of the year – are pictured below.

Charlecote team

February – saw us opening the house again after the winter clean. Our conservation assistants didn’t get to put their equipment away quite yet! As part of the ‘Local Leap’ initiative they spent the ‘extra’ leap day volunteering at St Mary’s Church in Warwick where they put their skills to good use and cleaned one of their monuments!

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March – Restoration work continued in our Woodland garden with new paths going in and we discussed lots of this ongoing work with visitors to the Edible Garden Show.

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AprilEaster came along with many visitors and many hundreds of chocolate eggs! We also had our lambs arriving – the first one being named Pickles.

Pickles and his mother

Pickles and his mother

And although it had been filmed back in 2009, the second episode of Antiques Roadshow featuring Charlecote Park was aired!

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May – Our team grew this month when Pam (our House and Visitor Services Manager) had a baby! Noah arrived earlier than expected because he couldn’t wait to meet us all!
The garden team also went off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show – not exhibiting but gathering ideas…

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June – The country went Jubilee crazy in June – including us! We had a brass band playing in the rain, Union Jack cupcakes, bicycles and a special Victorian Jubilee display in the house.

Bedworth Wind Band played on dispite the rain and kept us entertained!

Bedworth Wind Band played on despite the rain and kept us entertained!

God Save The Queen!

Later in the month we celebrated a special birthday. 75 years of the National Garden Scheme. We held a special birthday event and welcomed back former Charlecote resident, Dame Judi Dench. Oh and it rained that day too…

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July – Before the school holidays and 6 day opening for the house, our House Elves took a day trip to the Harry Potter Studios and even got to see some real conservation in action.

'Thank you for your patience whilst we make improvements to the visitor experience'

‘Thank you for your patience whilst we make improvements to the visitor experience’

House Elves at Hogwarts

House Elves at Hogwarts

August – This was our busiest time of the year with Children’s Club activities, outdoor theatre, bank holiday baking, 2nd Hand Book Fair and the rewiring work started to make a real impact…

Busy in the kitchens!

Busy in the kitchens!

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Pentax Digital Camera

September – We won a special award for our venison and our honey and also celebrated the relaunch of the Woodland Garden. At the same event our long-standing volunteers John and Betty were awarded their 30 years service badges! We also had to vacate our offices so they could be rewired!

John and Betty officially open the garden!

John and Betty officially open the garden!

Our temporary office in the gun room...

Our temporary office in the gun room…

October – did you join us on a Deer Park Safari? Lots of you did and we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits too much! Some of us went along to Westminster Abbey for a very special memorial service to National Trust founder, Octavia Hill. It was quite a day! Oh and the rewire packing up continued with vigor!

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Lauren, Emma and Ruth at Westminster

Lauren, Emma and Ruth at Westminster

November – The electricians moved into the house proper this month – it looks so different. So did the park and the cellars… we flooded!!!

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December – Christmas time! Christmas trees! Christmas events! A most wonderful time of the year!

Charlecote Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Thank you for all of your support over the past year. Whether you are a volunteer, visitor, facebook or twitter fan – we couldn’t do what we do without you and your support! Here is to another great year ahead…

Carry on fencing

It has been “carry on fencing” for the Park and Garden team during the last couple of weeks in which they have renewed the second phase of stock fencing in Polo field.

The section renewed this time is the 105 metre length mentioned in the previous fencing blog. This is the stretch of fence that separates Polo 2 area from Polo 3 area.

The fence line here is slightly trickier because in this part of Polo field the ground inclines upwards for half its length and then levels out for the other half (or is level then inclines downwards depending upon which way you are facing!).

This fence was constructed in the same way as the first section, as we shared on a blog post earlier this month.  Although it may have just been possible to tension this length of fence on level ground by using a box strainer at each end of the run, it was definitely not possible in this case due to the uneven terrain. To overcome this, in addition to the single box strainers at each end of the run, the team built a double box strainer at the junction where the inclined ground meets the level ground and then tensioned the fence in two parts: the inclined part and the level part.

1. This photos show the fence line looking uphill after the old fence had been removed…

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