A beautiful sunny day, so Caroline and I set off for the Haresfield topograph (next hill along from Haresfield Beacon). We take the ‘low road’ across the fields to start with, planning to return via the ‘high road’ through Standish Woods.
This gives a rare opportunity to view (and photograph) the splendid old specimen oaks of Standish Park Estate in low winter sun. There are lots of these ancient stag-headed trees, mostly in field centres rather than margins, which gives away their origins as parkland rather than boundary trees. Standish House is now part of Standish Hospital – and has been for decades and the parkland is now enclosed, but these trees hint of past glories. The status of the hospital, just vacated by the NHS (see blog for 2003) is unclear, though we understand it will stay in health use (and there are a few peacocks left, despite fears outlined in last year’s blog).
We are concerned about the trees though – as most are in severe decline and some are now falling. I know nothing about the Estate’s management regime, but must assume they are sympathetic to these trees simply because they are still there! Perhaps the estate are following best practice guidelines for ancient trees, and recognising their landscape, historical and nature conservation (lots of rare wood-boring insects) value. Or perhaps they just like them.