News from A Forgotten Landscape
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Your June e-bulletin from A Forgotten Landscape 

June – the long evenings are here to delight and beguile us, and for us to fill exploring our local heritage.  
Nearly all our volunteer projects have started now and amazing information is begining to roll in.  We give our heartfelt thanks to our volunteers this Volunteers Week (1-12 June).  Our projects are wee seeds that are beautifully coming to life through your thoughtful tending.  What a garden we are growing!
We’re looking forward to a packed summer of exciting events.  We’ll be popping up here, there and everywhere so do come have a chat with us if you see us! 
This month’s news section has updates on some of the wonderful work our volunteers are doing.  Read about a rare sighting by our roost monitors, and the past coming into view for our community history researchers.
We also report on the heritage trails being created by school children involved in our schools’ programme, and are pleased to report on our growing team!

Last but not least, meet Felicity Pine, one of our volunteer oral historians.
In this edition:
* Our projects and amazing volunteer opportunities
* Upcoming events
* The latest news
* Meet Felicity Pine, volunteer oral historian
Happy reading!
Our projects - the heart of what we do
At the heart of what we do - natural and cultural heritage projects you can get involved in.  

Our amazing volunteer opportunities come with full and free training as standard. 
Try something new, follow an interest, help preserve, conserve, restore and explore your landscape!

In this section you can discover a selection of our projects. If you feel inspired to join us, 
more information including volunteer role descriptions and application forms are at 
Or contact Katie Scaife on 01454 863 043 or at

Please note that some opportunities are only open for a short time, 
so do make sure to get in touch by the deadline if one is given.
Tales of the Vale – community history research
A Forgotten Landscape’s history, both distant and recent, is rich and varied.  We know that it is treasured and loved by local people.  The purpose of Tales of the Vale is to help more people enjoy finding out about the past and to share what they learn with others. 
Interested in the past?  Always wanted to know more about your family’s history, old buildings, or your area’s history? We are currently seeking history research volunteers.   Our historian, Virginia Bainbridge, will show you how to discover the past hidden in archives, photo records, and other historical sources. As a volunteer in this project, you will have the chance learn from and be mentored by Virginia in a hands-on programme of doing research, collecting, and sharing the histories you find.  No experience necessary!  You’ll have help every step of the way.  What's more, your research will contribute to a publication and travelling exhibition in 2018.

We will be running an introductory day on 10 June, so if you’re interested do get in touch.  More information is at  Or contact Katie on 01454 863 043 or at

Coming soon – LiDAR interpretation

A beautiful day for our volunteers to learn how to do water vole surveys with Phil Quinn.           Photo by Stephen Judd 

Events, talks, workshops, & activities

Find out about our fabulous free events
Booking may be required; if it is, it will say so in the activity details.
Family events

Geocaching workshop – part of the Festival of Nature
Saturday  11th June, 10-5
Bristol Harbourside

Ever wondered what the geocaching craze is all about? Come and find out how to make and hide your own treasure for others to find. Hear about our own geocache waiting for you to discover at Severn Beach!
Also meet A Forgotten Landscape’s team at the amazing Festival of Nature at Bristol Harbourside – two days dedicated to exploring and enjoying the natural world. This huge event features more than 100 organisations with an exciting programme of hands-on activities, fascinating talks, live entertainment, a market bursting with local produce and much more.  For more about the festival, click here

Olveston Fete
Saturday 25 June
Come find us at the Fete!  We’ll have a stall and activities.  We’ll also be there to help support and promote the launch of the new Olveston Parish Footpaths walking routes!
Oldbury Fun Run Day
Sun 26 June 10:30 - 4
Once again we’ll cheer on the runners and bring out our stall and activities to join in the festivities.  Featuring the latest on the archaeology work our volunteers have been doing in Oldbury!
Thornbury Carnival
Sat 2 July
We’re pleased to be part of this unmissable annual event.  Do pop by our stall and say hello.
Severn Beach Fun Day
Sat 16 July
Severn Beach
Really looking forward to being part of this!  Come check out our stall and activities.
Goram Fair
Sat 30 July, 10 - 6
Blaise Castle, Bristol
Back by popular demand, this is the community event and funfair celebrating the legend of Bristol’s giant, Goram, creator of the Avon Gorge.  We’ll be there with stall and activities.
Other family activities
Bristol Avon WaterBlitz!
10th‐25th June 2016
Be a part of the Bristol Avon WaterBlitz, a campaign to collect 500 water samples across the Bristol Avon Catchment.  Whether you are a school, community group, business, organisation or member of the public, you can take part in the Bristol Avon WaterBlitz to help capture a snapshot of the condition of the water environment.  Just visit to sign up and find out more.  Once you have registered you will be contacted about receiving your free water testing kit.

Tuesday Talks

We now have a venue for our next set of Tuesday Talks.  They will be in the Oak Room at Kings Weston House, Kings Weston Lane, Bristol BS11 0UR.   Talks start at 7:30 and run for about an hour.  They are free but you MUST book at place at  Bookings open on Monday 20 June and further details will be in the next e-newsletter.

Our next talks are:
Tuesday 6th September
Inspirational Eels!
By Andrew Kerr, Chair of the Sustainable Eel Group

Tuesday 4th October
The 1607 ‘Tsunami’
By Rose Hewlett, PhD candidate at Bristol University

Tuesday 1st November
Voices, dialects & words; the language of A Forgotten Landscape
By Phil Owen, Archivist at Arnolfini
A Forgotten Landscape is full of little nooks, like this quiet pool.  Soon to be investigated by our volunteer pond surveyors!           Photo by John Hastings

Update on our schools' programme
Last Thursday saw our first school exchange visit, organised as part of AFL's primary schools’ programme. Over the past few weeks, students from Crossways School in Thornbury have been working hard on designing local heritage trails around the town, helped by volunteers from Thornbury and District Museum. The trails are a great way of getting children out of the classroom, and gives them a fresh perspective on researching and exploring what is special about their local area.
Students from Our Lady of the Rosary School, Lawrence Weston, joined them to test drive the trails. As the groups arrived at each point of interest, the students from Crossways told their guests about the history of the place. Students really enjoyed hearing from each other.  The Crossway’s students are now looking forward to their visit to Lawrence Weston next term when they will test out the local trails created by the Our Lady of the Rosary students! 

Roost monitors sight rare visitor!
Our Coming Home to Roost surveyors have been busy surveying the High Tide Roosts along the River Severn.  High tide roosts are the areas where wetland birds rest up while the tide is high.  Monthly counts at these sites will give us a picture of the areas that are particularly valuable for the birds and will help with any future land management decisions.

Generally speaking the counts over the summer months are much quieter than the winter months when the bulk of the migratory birds are around. However, May produced some good results with the star of the show being a visiting Temminck's Stint.  This was spotted by local birder Paul Bowerman and it is only the second one he has seen on the Severn.  The Temminck's Stint is a rare wader which passes through the UK in the spring on its way to the Arctic to breed.  They are more often seen on the east coast than around this area.

Come the autumn we will be looking for more volunteers to train up as we have more areas that need surveying.  So if you are interested in birds and have an hour or so free a month to carry out a survey please get in touch. 

Tales of the Vale – amazing stories on the way!
The purpose of Tales of the Vale is to help more people enjoy finding out about the past and provide a way they can share what they learn with others.  The two strands of this project – one exploring the past with Historian Virginia Bainbridge, one collecting living memories with Oral Historian Julia Letts – will come together in a new publication called 'Tales of the Vale' and a travelling exhibition in 2018. 
Our history research volunteers are making great headway with Virginia’s skilled guidance and support. You can hear from one of our volunteer oral historians in the next section, but here are three summaries of work done so far by the history research group.

Lawrence Weston – a modern suburb, or medieval farming community?
Laura Webb

 Image courtesy Laura Webb

In 1066, Lawrence Weston was part of an estate owned by the Bishops of Worcester. The Bishops of Worcester made lots of records about their estates between the 1100s and 1500s. The records show how the people of Lawrence Weston lived and farmed the land.
In the Middle Ages, Lawrence Weston was one of the small villages or hamlets that were managed by the Bishops’ manor at Henbury. The original village was on the higher ground, near to what is now known as Kings Weston Road, and the people farmed the marshy land lower down, where the modern suburb now is. Lawrence Weston gets its name from the Hospital of St Lawrence, which was where the suburb known as Lawrence Hill now is.  The rents and other income from the peasants in Lawrence Weston went to pay towards the upkeep of the hospital, which was run by the church.

The land that was farmed by the peasants was a salt marsh, most of which has now been drained and built on for industrial purposes. However, there is a small amount of this land left as it would have been, now known as the Lawrence Weston Moor, which is managed by the Avon Wildlife Trust.

I hope to find out, from the estate records and other information, what kind of farming was being done in Lawrence Weston in the Middle Ages and what life was like for the people of that time.
Pirates, Pilots and Privateers - Tudor Exploration and Trade
Liz Napier


 Kingroad and the Mouth of the Avon
 Joseph Walter (1783-1856)
 Courtesy Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

In Tudor England, people living around the marshy levels of the Lower Severn Vale played a vital role, as they guarded the dangerous waterway between the Port of Bristol and ever expanding trade routes.  It was a perilous journey for shipping on the River Severn, and this tale features pirates, smugglers, wealthy estate owners and explorers returning with new-found discoveries for their Virgin Queen.
The Severn Estuary has the second highest tidal range in the world, with deep channels, hidden rocks and sandbanks.  By Tudor times, it was a very busy stretch of water.  Inland river boats and trows brought wool, corn and malt from Shrewsbury, Worcester, Tewkesbury and Wales to Gloucester and Bristol. Larger tall-masted ships sailed down to the ocean with a variety of cargoes, while navy vessels guarded both ships and shoreline from smugglers and pirates.
Bristol was England’s second city and a major player in keeping the country’s trade thriving during wars with France and Spain.  The Port of Bristol and its entrances at the mouth of the River Avon were controlled by the Society of Merchant Venturers under Royal Charter from the Crown.  As the Crown needed money to pay for the wars, port taxes, custom duties and other fees levied on shipping were collected by the Society.  These fees also covered the upkeep of two main shipping havens in A Forgotten Landscape, and a chaplaincy for sailors.
Hung Rode at Shirehampton and King Rode in the Channel near what is now Avonmouth were shallow areas where boats could anchor and wait for the tides, and for pilot boats to guide them upriver to Bristol. They were also useful places to evade customs duties!  In fact, the merchants, mariners and crews of the area became so skilful at not paying their dues, Henry VIII passed an Act of Parliament to forbid them sneaking out of harbour under cover of darkness.
As the merchants’ wealth grew, they purchased newly available church land following the Reformation.  Thomas Chester, Alderman and Mayor of Bristol, acquired Knole Park, a great estate in Almondsbury which became the family seat for many centuries.  From here, with its stunning views across the Lower Severn Levels, Chester sponsored the explorer, Martin Frobisher, on his voyages to find the North West Passage.  These are just a few of the many tales still to be told about this period and its people.
The Rise and fall of the Severn and the tithing of Redwick and Northwick in Henbury from 1815 : Don’t Binn it, save it.
Kath Burke



 Image courtesy Gloucestershire Archives

I plan to research the evolution features and growth of Redwick village. Why, how and when the Severn River and the Binn Wall (Sea Wall) were at the center of all that changed. My research in Henbury starts in 1815. I plan to show how the Binn wall and the Severn made a village into a small town of its time and how some families took opportunities, and grew with the village.
The Binn Wall protected the area along the Severn from the tide.  ‘On March 28th, 1815 high tide and bad weather came together and the wall was thrown down by which incalculable mischief was done.  At New Passage, Mr. Dart the Boatman and his daughter escaped by climbing a high tree and watched as their house was swept completely away.’ (Gloucester Journal, April 3rd, 1815)
The Commissions of Sewers (now Wessex Water) oversaw the ditches and rivers, and oversaw the repair and good order of the Binn Wall.  Each landowner along the wall was responsible for rebuilding their part of the wall.
The wall was surveyed by John Rastrick (Bristol Archives ref. 35749/38) and he advised a new wall should be built behind the existing one, with a one in three slope, as vertical walls could not withstand in tide.  Again in 1820 the river and tide were surveyed, and a new wall planned.
I have seen a large map at Gloucester Archives (ref. D272/9/5) and it is amazing.  It shows drawings of each section of the wall and who was responsible for building each section.  Along the lower edge are 3 ink and watercolor drawings of houses, New Passage House, the Lodge and Darts House.  It was lovely to find that Mr. Dart rebuilt his home and the map showed the part of wall that he was responsible for rebuilding, as well as other landowners along the Wall.
The New Binn Wall changed the Village; it became a safer place and more people came to live there, hence my title:  Don’t Binn it, save it.

Our team gains a new member
We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Rosie Clarke as our Project Assistant. Welcome Rosie!  Here's what she has to say...

Hello! I’m Rosie Clarke, the new Project Assistant on A Forgotten Landscape's team. I will be joining Miriam, Rebecca, and Katie and helping them deliver some of the fantastic events that we have available over the next year. You may bump into me at the Festival of Nature or Oldbury Fun Run, and many other places besides.  I am looking forward to meeting you and hearing more about your experiences. My particular interests are social and cultural history, craft, design, oral history, museums, education, and just listening to the many stories which are woven into our landscape! I hope I can learn as much from yourselves as I can bring to you.
Meet one of our volunteer oral historians, Felicity Pine

Felicity is one of our volunteer oral historians, learning the craft from Julia.  Here she explains what drew her to get involved in our project and what it’s been like.

A friend who lives in Shirehampton told me about A Forgotten Landscape.  Given my long involvement with family history research, and interest in social history, the idea of becoming an Oral History Volunteer really appealed to me. Following the application process, I was able to join the second training session in my area and after several years of retirement I enjoyed being back in a professional environment.
I started talking to friends about the project and before long I had an introduction to a farming family in Pilning Street, and from this first contact I was able to set up two more interviews with more to follow. 
The interviewing process is really a long conversation, with the interviewer guiding the process from earliest memories to the present day, whilst trying to remember to refer back and ask the interviewee to expand on particularly relevant memories to the project area.  Of the three people I have interviewed to date, two have been well into their seventies and one nearly ninety.  They had all clearly thought about what they wanted to say, and their recall was phenomenal.  So many parts of their lives came to life for me, and I was deeply fascinated by their experiences, whether it was describing living in a house without running water, gas or electricity or staying up night after night trying to save livestock.  At times the interviewee became emotional recalling dark or difficult times, especially in war time, or where life and death is concerned, or simply recalling experiences in life which have gone forever, so the challenge is to be empathic without losing track of guiding the interviewing process.
I have been lucky that another member of the group has been able to give me technical advice with regard to the recording equipment, and help with computer software, outside of the training sessions.  I have learnt new skills!
I feel very privileged to be able to listen to someone describing their lives in such detail, and from time to time I have been moved by what I have been told.  The experiences have been quite profound and thought provoking, and I look forward to more interviews and being involved with the project until 2018.

Connect with the team!

You can contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or our website using  the links below. Please like or follow us for updates from around the project area. If you have something you'd like to share with the team - an old photo perhaps or an anecdote, a great picture of the area or a contact you think we should make, tag your tweet or instagram photo with #aforgottenlandscape.

You can email us at or call us on 01454 863 043.

Best wishes,

Katie, Miriam, Rebecca & Rosie
The AFL project team

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