There was a good turnout for our very first Zoom talk, National Trust Tales, by David Simmonds. David is President of the Chelmsford National Trust Supporter group. He gives talks through the Trust’s Talk Service and is a volunteer for the Trust at Hatfield Forest.
David’s illustrated talk dealt with ten tales looking at various aspects of the National Trust. The presentation was well received with 49 screens showing, representing around 60 members.
As David does his talks for the benefit of the Trust and does not charge a fee, he has kindly suggested that SoFA make a donation to our local property, Formby.
David became a life member of the National Trust in August 1977 at the cost of £75 and the first property he visited in 1977 was Lindisfarne castle.
The three founders of the National Trust were Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Palmer and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. The first National Trust property was Dinas Oleu near Barmouth in Wales.
David spent some time talking about the Tales of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter and her cottage ‘Hill Top‘ in the Lake District.
The next topic was Tails (and trees) of Hatfield Forest, where David volunteers. He talked about the animal and bird life in the forest.
The Dark Ages
Then came a tale of the Dark Ages and David talked about the book Beowulf, which is in the National Trust collection. He went on to describe Sutton Hoo in Woodbridge, Suffolk which is the site of the Great Ship Burial. Sutton Hoo is England’s ‘Valley of the Kings’ and the Anglo-Saxon ship burial found in the King’s mound is the richest burial ever found in Northern Europe. Netflix released a film in 2021, about Sutton Hoo, called ‘The Dig’ which David recommended.
The National Trust own Thomas Hardy’s Cottage in Dorset where Hardy, the author of ‘Wessex Tales’, was born and penned some of his early novels. The National Trust also own Max Gate in Dorchester, a Victorian home designed by Hardy who died there in 1928. David also mentioned Beeny Cliff in North Cornwall, which provided much inspiration for Hardy’s work.
Next came a tale of Danbury Commons and Blake’s Wood, Essex’s second largest area of common land, looked after by the National Trust.
A tale not to be told was about the Trust’s Orford Ness in Suffolk. This was so secret a place that most people have never heard of it. At the height of the Cold War the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment used Orford Ness for development on the atomic bomb.
‘Tales of the campfires’ referred to Rudyard Kipling and his stories/poems related to fire. The National trust own Bateman’s, a 17th century Jacobean house which was a sanctuary for Rudyard Kipling. David particularly referred to Puck of Pook’s Hill, a fantasy book by Kipling published in 1906.
The tenth tale was of a seafarer and his Northumbrian Hall. Wealthy Admiral George Delaval bought Seaton Delaval Hall from his bankrupt cousin in the 1700’s. The hall has a colourful history, but Lord and Lady Hastings returned to the hall after a hundred years of family absence. After the death of his parents the current Lord Hastings asked the National Trust if they were interested in acquiring the hall. The Trust received the keys to Delaval Hall in 2009.
A bonus tale – David asked the question; will the National Trust continue?
Supporter groups such as SoFA are very important to the future as they have a great deal to offer. The National Trust urgently need to attract younger members otherwise there is the sad possibility that it will become history. We need to do all we can to secure the Trust’s future.
If you are interested in joining SoFA, please contact us using our Contact Form.
Article supplied by Lois Hughes