The Annual Picnic 2009
The Willis Fleming Historical Trust held its Annual Picnic on Saturday 26 September 2009, at Chilworth Manor in Hampshire. Upwards of forty members and friends of the Trust assembled in the Field Tent, pitched in the old meadow that lies west of the Manor House.
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Chilworth Manor was acquired by John Barton Willis Fleming in 1825; it was sold by his grandson in 1946. Originally an ornamental lodge, the house was greatly enlarged around 1900. The Manor was later acquired by the University of Southampton, and is now a hotel. The grounds are of particular note.
Inside the Field Tent there was an interesting display of ephemera, together with some miniature memory shrines created as part of the Trust's present project to restore the Stoneham War Shrine. We noticed shrines made by Mr Cox, Mrs Verdon, Mrs Hunt, Mrs Bennett, and Mr and Mrs Furlong.
After lunch, Harry Willis Fleming made some announcements, and Jane Wildgoose presented the 'Thomas Hopper Memorial Cup' to Mr and Mrs John Furlong, in honour of the latter's help and support during the preceding year. The picnickers were then met by Sarah Kiss, who led a walk through the Conservation Area.
Clearing of invasive species (bracken, rhododendron, birch and sycamore) is well underway on the south side of the lake, and this area is now open and light.
Passing through the Azalea Walk we entered the Deer Ring. This unusual feature, seen at its best in the late afternoon sunshine, is a circle of conifers planted in the mid-1890s on part of the site of a deer park known to be there in the 16th and 17th centuries. The overgrown area in the centre of the Ring is to be cleared.
Skirting around the edge of the Arboretum, originally planted in the 19th century and which is soon to be extended, we entered the Ancient Woodland, a darker area criss-crossed by streams. This woodland will be managed sensitively by clearing encroaching growth around individual specimen trees such as yews to create a lighter environment. One of the older yew trees will become a focal point in the new scheme.
The walk continued through the woodland on the northern edge of the Conservation Area. We returned via the Ecology Meadow, established in the early 1990s - ending back at the Field Tent for a welcome cup of tea.