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Gaddesden Estate News July/August 2022

Coronation and Jubilees
We have recently enjoyed all the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, on the TV and in the parish, in both Gaddesden Row and Great Gaddesden. These put me in mind of other celebrations to which the estate has contributed during the reign of Her Majesty the Queen.
For the coronation in 1953 the Coronation Sports between our two village schools were organised on the estate, on the Stable Meadow, principally by the late Bill Badcock, grandfather of Martin, our current jovial host at the “Crown and Sceptre”. These continued for quarter of a century until the Silver Jubilee in 1977. For that occasion we planted a new two acre wood called Jubilee Grove on formerly arable land.

For the Golden Jubilee in 2002 there was the new cricket pavilion, incorporating a scoring hut, where we received a contribution from Dacorum and the Parish Council gave the clock.

For the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 the Parish council organised a splendid bonfire as a beacon on Gaddesden Park with the concert live steamed from Buckingham Place.

This year our involvement was more low-key, but even so we had a huge bonfire on Parson’s Hill overlooking Great Gaddesden. In the forthcoming planting season, we have plans to contribute to the Queen’s Green Canopy.  We hope very much that the two village schools will be able to join other schools in Hertfordshire in making their own contributions to the QGC!

We are now in the final stages in the run up to harvest, and we will soon be sweeping out the stores ready to receive this year’s crop.  On the arable side the Winter Wheat looks promising, we are growing “Gleam” a hard feed wheat in the Gade Valley area and on Gristhouse field, while north of Gaddesden Row and on our southern boundary it is “Costello” another Group 4 hard feed wheat.

We have around 100 hectares of “Planet” Spring Barley, intended for malting (to make beer or whisky) and 50 hectares of Linseed. Our experiment of drilling heritage wheat into a clover/ryegrass mix in Great Almonds hasn’t paid off unfortunately due to the ryegrass dominating the sword and out competing the wheat, which didn’t receive enough nitrogen from the clover. However we have learnt a lot and look forward to developing this aspect of regenerative farming. The organic conversion fields are  being grazed by sheep, while they still need to be “topped” (mown) to prevent the ryegrass from seeding.

Cattle are grazing in various places, with the Longhorns giving a very bucolic aspect to the Water Meadows.   The wild flowers this year have been fantastic so far, with the sequence of dandelions, clovers, buttercups, ox-eye daisies and knapweeds providing a glorious range of colours.   

Felling and removal of diseased ash trees and some Norway Spruce and European Larch from New Gorse is complete, and the area is being prepared for replanting this coming season. The ash timber should be very resilient, but the disease has made it brittle and not much use for anything but firewood. The vast majority of the brash has been turned into woodchip. The remainder has been dragged into “windrows” so that there are  clear areas for the replanting. We will have to surround the area with a deer fence to enable the young saplings not to be browsed. One gratifying aspect is the quantity of healthy young oak trees from the original planting of 1984 and the subsequent enrichment which remain. There are rather more than were apparent before the felling.
We had a very successful “Park and Ride” in May and look forward to the July and August events, with the Charity Ride in September, as usual.