Saturday, 1 June 2013

Destruction of the Winchester College Wingnuts

One of the mature wingnuts
The Nature Reserve
The base of one of the smaller wingnuts before felling

I love to walk in Winchester College water meadows and over the playing fields beside the Itchen Navigation Canal in the area where Keats is supposed to have composed the 'Ode To Autumn'. In one part alongside Brandy Stream that borders the Falloden Nature Reserve, there is a line of magnificent trees, Wingnuts, that I have seen nowhere else. They were apparently planted by Graham Drew, the art master at Winchester in the 1960s; one of the school's iconic dons.

In the past few days most of them have been felled, apparently as part of an attempt to return the area to cattle grazing, a humdrum activity of little interest and originality, and certainly insufficient justification for cutting down such magnificent rare and beautiful specimens. Why could they not have been left? Cattle could shelter under their huge branches. They will apparently be replaced with willows - in which the area already abounds.

Click here for an excellent piece on the destructive work of Natural England and the Hampshire Wildlife Trust in this area by Mark Fisher in September 2009

Click here for some more photos

After writing this piece in June 2013, I discovered Chris Calidcott's beautiful book on Winchester* in which this photo and the lines attached appear as the final end piece.

Chris Caldecott writes: There is an avenue of huge old Wingnut trees along a small brook between the Itchen and the canal that I think is the most perfect place on earth, where I want my ashes scattered. 
* Published by Frances Lincoln Ltd in 2012


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