Recent visitors to the site will have seen that we have a new mixed native tree hedge. This has replaced the earlier boundary, which was old, broken, and diseased.
In 2018 English Heritage began a project to replace the broken-down Priory boundary fence with a mixed native hedge. Four years later and we have finally reached the end. Money from Summer Sounds paid for most of the work, with English Heritage funding the rest.
Because the Priory is a Scheduled Monument, we need permission before we can do almost anything. We cannot just dig holes to plant trees (or even take them up) because of the danger of damaging buried archaeology. This needs what is known as Scheduled Monument Consent, obtained through Historic England. Once we had permission; work began in 2019 to remove the old fence, the diseased trees, and the accumulated rubbish. We also put up a new, temporary, wire fence as a barrier. The plan was to plant the hedge in 2020, but then Covid hit, and we had to put the project on hold. However, once the worst was over in 2021, we began to look to finish the work.
Once we looked at the situation again it was clear that the old stumps and roots needed removing before we could plant the new hedge. This, of course, also meant more Scheduled Monument Consent (the first one was just to remove the old boundary). Once obtained work began on removing the remaining stumps and roots, planned for April 4th, 2022.
Unfortunately, the weather that day was terrible. Thunder snow and blizzards early morning made life difficult and hail and further snowstorms added to the problems. However, this did not deter either the contractors, Ashlea, or the English Heritage curator, Mark Douglas (who was overseeing the work to ensure that no damage occurred to the monument). By the end of the day the ground was ready for the hedge.
The next day the lying snow had gone but there was plenty of heavy hail, rain, sleet and snow showers to contend with. These did not deter the weather-hardened men from Ashlea, who battled on regardless. However, the weather made the planting slow-going and they needed a second day to finish the job. Happily, the weather was much better and so the planting work progressed quickly. We now have a lovely mixed hedge of native trees, featuring hawthorn, guelder rose, blackthorn and hazel.
We do need to keep the hedge watered until it is established. If you are visiting the Priory you might like to pick up a watering can, fill it with water and water a length of hedge for us.
Our thanks go to English Heritage staff – Kate Anceau, Fran Ryder, Annie Tollafield, Sally Wilson and Mark Douglas for all the organisation needed for this to take place and to Ashlea for carrying out the work in the most atrocious conditions. Thanks also to Gisborough Estates and the Rowe family for their support.