Moggerhanger Estate Railings
Written by: Tim Kirk
Removal of hedgerow and 240 linear metres of 1960’s concrete post and wire mesh fencing, and the installation of new galvanized estate fencing. The old hedge and fence line ran adjacent to the main drive and dissected the parkland in two from north to south, with its removal and reinstatement with new estate fencing that has an open structure, views were once again afforded to the visitor across the parkland towards Bottom Wood from the drive.
The project realised a long-held belief of mine that the late twentieth century alterations to the landscape should be reversed and that the parkland should be restored to its 18th century heyday. This and the guidance of the Conservation Management Plan written in 2007 drove me to this end, the removal of the former hedge and fence line was the first major alteration to the landscape in sixteen years.
The goal of the project was to open up the parkland and restore the views as it was intended to look for visitors in the 18th century, Humphry Repton who designed the landscape in 1792 is well known for his use of views and the borrowed landscape in his designs. By sweeping away the former obstruction to the views beyond and its replacement with new estate fencing that had an open structure, views were once again on offer to the visitor, which when experienced double the size of the park.
I am most proud of the fact that this project was the first major step in restoring the parkland in sixteen years and something I am solely responsible for. If my time at Moggerhanger Park were to come to an end I would be happy in the knowledge that I have left my mark on the landscape.
Benefits to People
The project has benefitted all visitors to the park in the sense that the parkland is now more open and less claustrophobic than previously. We have also seen an increased interest in using Bottom Wood which frames the horizon from the drive, groups such as forest schools, church groups, and local arborists who wish to use the woodland for training purposes. It is hoped that these groups and more will come to see Moggerhanger Park as community hub for outdoor activities, by opening more of the parkland Moggerhanger Park now has a lot more to offer to a broader range of people.
Personally, I am pleased that the first step has been taken to fully realise the parks potential, not only from an historical aspect but from the visitor experience.
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
The improvements to the landscape have changed the way the area is managed, previously the concrete post and wire mesh fencing, which was not only unsightly, had numerous damaged sections. Additionally, a mixed hedge of yew, holly, weed trees, and bramble had established itself up and through the wire mesh fencing, which made effective management difficult. With the former hedge and fence removed we will be in a better position to manage the pasture up to the fence line, reducing the amount of man hours required to maintain this area of parkland.
With the improvements in place the public will be able to see the full extent of the park, and that it extends to both the right and left of the main drive. The estate museum which narrates the history of the park will enthuse the visitor with stories of how the estate was used, and how the woodlands were put to good use for timber and game.
The improvements the project made to this part of the park is the first step in reincorporating the land west of the park back into the main estate, furthermore, the intention is to restore the original circuit walk which would have encompassed Garden Wood and Bottom Wood. The woodland rides which dissect Bottom Wood which are still discernible after many years of disuse, will be restored along with restoration and management of the north drive/avenue
The arable land which sits between the new estate fencing and Bottom Wood will be returned to meadows for grazing by sheep and in alignment with the Conservation Management Plan. Bottom Wood will be brought back into positive management allowing visitors to explore the full extent of the park.
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
The biggest challenge the project posed was keeping the new estate fencing on a relatively level line throughout the 230 metres of its length, over the years certain sections of the parkland had been built on and the land around it had been altered. This coupled with drainage ditches from farming activities along most of its length made for uneven ground which needed addressing before installation could commence.
Further challenges arose when planning permission was sought to remove the hedgerow, an unsuspected outcome was that the project had to retain forty metres of hedgerow that were deemed of historic importance. Fortunately, this decision by the local planning authority did not render the project nonviable as the section of hedgerow in question was at the southernmost end of the proposed installation.
If I had to repeat the same project again, I would not do anything differently, the management of Moggerhanger Park has always been to return the landscape to its Repton origins. I would suggest however that forward planning is key and that the various hoops you must jump through to obtain planning permission take time, therefore this must be considered when setting project timeframes.
Other considerations particularly with this project is wildlife, it has its own timeframe which you must fit in with, potential habitat loss must be managed with consideration and carried out at the appropriate time. And lastly, document the projects progress meticulously with before and after photographs.