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Gaddesden Estate News July/August 2019

Before I go into thoughts about farming and harvest there is one important subject which I must mention:
Public consultation for the land south of The Crown and Sceptre, Bridens Camp
The Gaddesden Estate is working with Wheatley, a Hertfordshire based housebuilder, on proposals to develop the land south of The Crown and Sceptre in Bridens Camp, to provide 9 new homes. We intend to submit a planning application for this site soon. Before we do so, we wish to give local residents an overview of the site’s history, present the proposed development plans and provide the chance for people to give feedback at a public consultation event we are to hold.
We appreciate that this is a sensitive site to redevelop and we have worked closely with Wheatley in the design of the scheme. The brief to the architects was to produce a scheme that would look as if it has always been there. As such, we have sought to mirror the design of the existing houses. We propose a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom houses. Arranged as terraced, semi-detached and detached houses, all will be 2-storey. Vehicular access to these houses will be from the bridle path, with car parking located behind the houses. This road will be improved. The scheme will also bring improvements to the T-junction of the bridle path and Red Lion Lane. In turn, this will require a new bus shelter. The existing wooded area along the site’s eastern boundary will be retained.
We understand that there is an urgent need for more housing in the UK.  We believe building new homes within Bridens Camp the will help sustain the hamlet’s existing services, whilst making use of an unused acre of land located between the existing houses.
We hope you will like our scheme.  Please do come along to have a look at our design and give your feedback at the consultation event, which is to be held at the Great Gaddesden Cricket Club’s Green Pavilion on Saturday 20th July from 9am to 12:30pm.
We are nearly at the point now when we can, in the colloquial expression, “shut the gate” on the arable land.  The wheats though need one more fungicide to protect the flowering plants from disease.  Wheat can be particularly vulnerable to a disease at this point which produces toxins in the grain, meaning it can be unfit for human consumption.  Since we hope most of the wheat will go into Weetabix we need to ensure that the plants are protected.  From then on it will be a case of waiting for the crops to ripen and praying for fine weather.  The spring barley too is flowering and seems to be developing very fast this year, helped by its early sowing in the February heatwave.  As I write this in the third week of June, the linseed is just beginning to display its beautiful blue flowers, and the oilseed rape north of Gaddesden Row will be ready to cut in a few weeks.
In the lull before harvest, we take the opportunity thoroughly to clean the grain stores and the drying ducts, ready to receive the grain as it comes in off the combine.  It is also a good time to carry out machinery maintenance.
Our grazing tenants have shorn their sheep and during the next few weeks will be haymaking in the fields around the Golden Parsonage, also hoping for a reasonable spell of fine weather.

Estate Maintenance
As part of our efforts to be as “green” as we can, six years ago we installed Solar Photovoltaic panels on the roof of our No 4 building. For the first time we have had these cleaned in order to prevent the build-up of moss and lichen, which can affect their efficiency.  It’s a job we could do ourselves in future as three of the team have just passed their cherry picker test. The day of the test was made more entertaining by the fact that the test machine broke down when one of them was 18 metres up in the air.  Thankfully not for long though, and he has safely now returned to earth! 

High Park Wood
A reminder from last month’s Newsletter: The thinning of High Park Wood is due to begin in the next few weeks. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause walkers. Part of the need for the thinning and removal of the ash trees at this time is that the Ash Dieback disease, commonly called “Chalara” can cause mature ash trees to drop limbs unexpectedly. As there are several public footpaths in the wood, this is something we have to take very seriously.

Ride and Horse grazing
Ride membership was renewed at the 1st June. We had many members calling into the Estate Office which provides a good chance to meet members and to sound them out about improvements or maintenance of the Ride. Welcome to any new members from Flamstead Pony Club, we have had a great response from you! If anybody would like to join, membership is limited but some spaces are still available, Please contact [email protected]
We are pleased that at present all our horse paddocks are occupied. We are beginning summer grassland maintenance.

Park and Ride
We have had some very enjoyable “Park and Rides” this summer. The next events are on 14th July and 11th August, with the Charity Ride, held in aid of Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled, on 15th September. We get masses of good feedback on our Facebook page and riders seem thoroughly to enjoy the day, not least breakfast baps and Wagu Burgers from Marbled Meats!
We welcome riders of all abilities; booking is through Entry is £20 and £25 for the Charity Ride. For more information see

American Halseys
Having heard very little from across the Atlantic in the earlier part of this year, we now have several visits arranged from members of the Halsey family in the United States. As I may have mentioned before, Thomas Halsey emigrated to New England in the 1630s and begat a large number of descendants, who spread over the whole of the USA. Many families remained, though, in his home town of Southampton, Long Island, NY, where several still farm the sandy land, and where his house of around 1650 still stands.

1520 -2020
Next year will see 500 years since John Halsey took a lease of the Golden Parsonage and Grove Farm (which became the Home Farm in 1870) from the Prior of King’s Langley, who was also the Rector of Great Gaddesden. While John is first heard of in 1513, the family are recorded in the parish having land at Stags End in 1434 and Richard Halsey was the signatory of a deed with the Prior of 1458.

Has anyone heard a cuckoo this year? I certainly have not, for the very first time! There seems to be a worrying decline in some bird numbers. Is this due to climate change, drought in the Sahel region of Africa, or what? Swallows, swifts and house martins seem to be very scarce , though there are a large number of goldfinches around. I saw some lapwings in the spring, but only one pair. Another bird we used to see regularly was the Little Owl, but no longer, and sparrows which used to frequent the farmyard have virtually disappeared. On the estate we have ancient woodland as well as old grassland,and the farm has planted wild bird cover and ”pollen and nectar” mixtures for bees and other pollinators, photos of which will be on our facebook page.
The other evening we did though see a fallow deer “pricket”, a young buck, playing on the lawn outside our bedroom window. Fortunately, he has not yet found the roses!