Monday, 17 August 2009

Chiltern woodlands

As a part of understanding the places I feel attachment to I have decided to research a bit about the history and culture of woodlands near Bingley in West Yorkshire and Prestwood in Buckinghamshire.

When I visited Angling Spring Wood (having not been for a period of several months) I noticed that by comparison to Hirst Wood near Bingley the beech trees were actually not all that big or old. It made me realise that the woods of the Chilterns were (and still are to a lesser extent) harvested for timber. The woods of the Chilterns were a vital resource for the furniture industry of High Wycombe and so with the exception of a few trees in parkland there are no really ancient trees around Prestwood as they are regularly felled.

Chair bodger, Chilterns c.1930

Reading some of the brilliant online resources about the local woods I found out that some of the 'chalk' pits in the woods were actually the remains of sawyers pits. This fascinated me, to think of the direct connection with history, industry, the shape of the land and my movement within the landscape. Maybe running down the pit was not just a childish action, but a way of connecting with the culture of the place.

The section of map above is a facsimile of a map of 1822 in which the wood is clearly marked, with very similar boundary to the present day wood. I noticed it is marked just as 'Angling Spring', so I don't know if this is just naming the spring (which is found as a slightly squelchy patch at the east end of the wood) or if this was also the name given to the wood.

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