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Gaddesden Estate News May 2021

The great news is that drilling of all crops has now been completed, with the linseed finally being sown on 8th April in Lodgemans, Peatmans and Ragged Hall. The parish boundary runs through Lodgemans, with part of the field being in Flamstead parish, as is Peatmans. I don’t know the origin of Lodgmans, though Peatmans, which is sometimes called “Peakmans” in old documents, shares its name with both a field on the neighbouring Puddephats Estate, between Newlands Wood and Babies Wood, as well as Peatmans Lane, sometimes confusingly called Whitehouse Lane, which is the restricted byway running north from Gaddesden Row School. Ragged Hall is the other end of Gaddesden Row. Formerly it was two fields, Eastleigh and Twitchells. The former name is retained by the cottage adjoining the field, while Twitchells may refer to the land being formerly infested with couch grass, often called in the east of England “twitch”. the two fields were amalgamated in the 1950s or 1960s and renamed Ragged Hall after a neighbouring house.

The electric fencing around the fields being grazed by sheep, which I mentioned last month, has now been completed. The fences adjoin several public footpaths and yellow warning signs have been put up. There is plenty of space between the paths and the electric fences.
General farm work continues with the usual round of road and track repairs, gate hanging and machinery maintenance.

We have recently met the Forestry Commission to inspect areas in two woods where a large number of ash trees are dying from ash dieback “Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus”, which was formerly known as “chalara”. The disease is rampant in this area and can cause branches to snap off and fall as the tree gradually dies and decays. Readers may remember that this is also why we felled the trees in High Park Wood last year. The woodland compartments concerned, which are likely to be felled in 2022 are in Big Wood, adjoining the Red Lion Lane opposite the Home Farm entrance, and New Gorse near the Golden Parsonage. Both compartments will be replanted in due course.

In High Park Wood, we will be bringing in a machine, in July or August this year, after the bird nesting season, to “mulch” the stumps, roots &c, so as to leave a clear site for replanting with native species already agreed with the Forestry Commission.
We are currently in discussion with the Forestry Commission about tree health and felling licences. Our current licences run out in 2022 and the next stage is to prepare a new Plan of Operations to cover the work we need to do over the next five to ten years.
Our regular roadside tree survey is in hand as I write and some people may have noticed that some trees have painted numbers on them, indicating that they may need attention.

Estate properties
Now that spring is here and soon it will be summer, annual maintenance time has now arrived, principally exterior redecoration, reading water meters &c.
Equestrian Matters
A quick overview for everything equine over the last couple of months.  All the grazing paddocks have been harrowed and rolled and a few maintenance jobs carried out mainly at The Ley at Whitehouse Farm. The grazing is thankfully slowly recovering from the wet winter.

New fencing has been erected in Spinney Meadow, which is also at Whitehouse, by our client to keep walkers from straying off the popular public footpath, causing damage to the grazing and leaving the gate open for the horses to escape.

Preparations are being made to prepare Abel’s Meadow, in Flamstead Parish (another field name dating from the Middle Ages!) for new clients in May. There is lots of work still to be done and water to be connected.

We have had a handful of new members joining the Gaddesden Estate Ride. The bridge in New Gorse has been repaired, and reopened, main parts of the ride have been rolled after a fair bit of damage on Lime Avenue and Cherrytree Field and is looking much better.

Park and Ride
May’s Park and Ride is fully booked bar a couple of places in the novice slot.