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Anglo-Saxon Spectacular 6-7 July

posted on June 11, 2019

Public Open Weekend

Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th July

10am – 4pm

As part of our House of Wessex project, we’re excited to announce that our next public open weekend will take place during the first weekend of July. Watch the House of Wessex being constructed, plus have a go at Anglo-Saxon thatching, play traditional games, and see other traditional crafts on display. Free parking, and free entry.

July House of Wessex open weekend posterOver the last six months, the timber frame for our reconstruction of an important Anglo-Saxon house has been created by dozens of volunteers. Over 80 logs of oak, sweet chestnut, ash, and birch have been split, shaped, and carved by hand using nothing more than wedges and axes. We are now ready to raise the frame.

During the open weekend you will be able to watch the final shaping of the timbers with axes and the raising of the House of Wessex.  A variety of traditional techniques will be used to carry the timbers to the site and raise the timber frame, including a gin pole and derrick.

Come and meet members of the Wulfheodenas, a living history society, to see and join in with Anglo-Saxon crafts, play traditional games, learn about bone carving, cookery skills and much more.

You can even learn thatching skills from our master thatcher and he will show you how to make bread using the wheat being used to thatch the roof

It will be a great family weekend and a major milestone in the project.

Free parking. Free entry. No booking required. Sylva Wood Centre, Long Wittenham. OX14 4QT.


If you would like to get more involved, we still have some places available for the public to receive training in timber-framing and traditional thatching. We are offering a series of one-day courses in July and August. Course-fees from attendees will be used to match-fund the funding received from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Find out more about the courses

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

 


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Artweeks 2019

posted on May 9, 2019

We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors, friends old and new, to the Sylva Wood Centre during the next two weekends for Oxfordshire Artweeks. Open each day from 10am-5pm. Free parking. Café, with lots to see and do for all the family.

Artweeks flier 2019

Artweeks flier 2019

We have a webpage dedicated to the exhibition at www.sylva.org.uk/artweeks


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Managing Woodland for Wildlife

posted on February 28, 2019

Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 1030-1530

Teaching Barn, Sylva Wood Centre

Learn how to manage your woodland for wildlife.

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

The day will include:

  •  General background on wildlife associated with your woodland
  • How to manage your woodland to encourage wildlife
  • How to deal with potential conflicting needs between species
  • Using the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit
  • Use the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit to create an action plan for your woodland.
  • Walk through a local woodland assessing its value for wildlife

There will also be an opportunity to have a tour of the Sylva Wood Centre and hear more about the Making Local Woods Work project.

book-now

book-now

Cost:                    FREE –  18 places.  Book here

Venue:                 Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor:                   Nigel Symes (RSPB) and Paul Orsi (Sylva Foundation)

Bring:                   Laptop (if possible) for practical session. Boots/waterproofs for woodland walk.

Making Local Woods Work

Funded by Making Local Woods Work

 

 


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Forestry Skills Plan published

posted on February 12, 2019

The Forestry Skills Forum has produced a five-year plan to promote education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, while maintaining close links with the equivalent group in Scotland.

The Forestry Skills Plan identified four key themes for action:

  1. talent attraction
  2. employer support
  3. education provision
  4. skills and technical knowledge.
Forestry Skills Plan 2019

Forestry Skills Plan 2019 – click to download

Each theme has several work strands. The plan takes each theme in turn and develops their work strands into action plans.

Sylva Foundation’s Head of Forest Education, Jen Hurst, who currently chairs the Forest Education Network for England, commented:

“The Forestry Skills Action Plan is the successful result of research, collaboration and partnership between many forestry skills and forest education organisations in England. England’s forestry sector urgently needs more people all ages and backgrounds to choose a rewarding and exciting career pathway in our woodlands and forests; this action plan identifies clearly how this will be done.”

The plan is owned by the Forestry Skills Forum, and delivered by the Forum members. It is hosted on the website of the Royal Forestry Society.

About the Forestry Skills Forum

The Forestry Skills Forum is dedicated to promoting education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, and maintains close links with the equivalent group in Scotland. Members comprise the sector’s leading authorities, charities, companies, educational institutions and training providers. They represent all areas of the sector, including employers, trade associations, education providers, funders, research centres, and include specialists in all age groups: early years, primary, secondary, further and higher education. The FSF is an independent group, supported by Forestry Commission England.

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Timber-framing and Raising courses July 2019

posted on February 4, 2019

We are running a series of one-day timber-framing and raising courses at the Sylva Wood Centre, run by the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Come and learn jointing, framing-up, hand-rearing roof trusses, and fitting purlins and ridge pieces using traditional tools and techniques.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

During this unique timber-framing and raising course you will develop skills and knowledge in the making and raising of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques.

You will be working alongside highly-skilled craftspeople, helping to make and raise the timber frame of the House of Wessex during the course. Each one-day course is one of five courses being run between 3rd and 7th July. You may book on more than one day by simply registering separately for each day. Please note that the work will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before booking multiple days!

Teaching will be provided by highly experienced craftspeople in the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Learning will include a selection of the following, catering for a wide range of skill and experience :

  • Completing treewrighting on parts of the timber frame
  • Fitting of wall plates onto posts which will be set into the ground
  • Jointing and framing-up the roof trusses
  • Hand-rearing the roof trusses
  • Fitting pulins and ridge pieces
Treewrighting and timber framing

Treewrighting and timber framing

At the conclusion of the five days, the frame will be complete and ready for fixing of wattle hurdles on the roof, and other stages of construction including thatching (also offered as a course).

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). The course will be outdoors in all weathers, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing (sun and rain).

Drinks and hot food will be provided, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) may be available on the site, or locally. More details will follow your booking.

In addition, a programme of evening events (i.e. beyond the end of the formal course) will take place across the five days (3-7 July). The exact nature of these on any particular day will vary, but may include a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019 book-now
Thursday, 4th July 2019 book-now
Friday, 5th July 2019 book-now
Saturday, 6th July 2019 book-now
Sunday, 7th July 2019 book-now

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Traditional thatching courses

posted on January 28, 2019

Learn about traditional and sustainable early thatching methods, including those to be used on the live reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon, House of Wessex. 

10th-14th August 2019 (five one-day courses)

Led by Alan Jones, Conservation Carpenter and Master Thatcher, a leading thatcher in experimental archaeology and historical reconstructions since the early eighties. Each of the five one-day courses is centred on the thatching on the newly reconstructed timber House of Wessex at Sylva Foundation, south of Oxford.

 

Thatching with Alan Jones

Thatching with Alan Jones

You will learn how to use the materials and techniques to be used on the roof including laying turf over wattle hurdles, processing straw into yelms and bundles spar coating the thatch, dressing with a Leggett and gaining the required depth of fixings and overall depth of coat work.

The course will also include slide show and talk about evolution of our relationship with cereals as a food and shelter crop.  There will be the opportunity to mill grain into flour and taste bread made from the wheat straw from the roof.

Course content

  • Lecture of history and development of thatching in the UK.
  • Handling and processing the straw.
  • Applying turf to the hurdles.
  • Learning techniques for applying thatch to the roof at required thickness.
  • Spar coating the straw securely into position.
  • Dressing of the thatch to gain the desired shape.

Details

  • Small groups to allow for an intimate learning experience
  • Delegates can complete one or more days at £75 per day (discount for all five days, see below)
  • Delegates that complete 5 days may be invited to volunteer and complete the thatch on the House of Wessex reconstruction

Essential Requirements

Delegates are required to:

  • Have a good level of fitness
  • Be able to work at heights
  • Provide their own clothing suitable for work outdoors in all weathers
  • Provide their own safety boots
  • Provide your own food and drink

We are offering five one-day courses, run back-to-back.

Cost £75 per day. Click to book:

Saturday, 10th August

Sunday, 11th August

Monday, 12th August

Tuesday, 13th August

Wednesday, 14th August

We are pleased to offer a special discount if you want to attend all five days.

Five days for the price of four, at only £300. Offer only available by phoning us.

Please contact us on 01865 408018 to book for all 5 days, and have your payment card ready.

Location
Sylva Wood Centre
Little Wittenham Rd
Long Wittenham, OXF OX14 4QT
United Kingdom
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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How can more children get closer to nature?

posted on November 14, 2018

Three of England’s leading environmental education charities have joined forces to explore how more children could be better connected with nature. Our interest is in outdoor education in wooded areas and forests, particularly Forest School practice, and we welcome a wide range of views from all outdoor educators and woodland owners.

Survey partners Sylva Foundation, Forest School Association, and The Ernest Cook Trust are running this survey as part of the Forest Schools for All project funded by The Ernest Cook Trust. The project is focussed on delivery in England, while for this survey the researchers are interested in receiving responses from the whole of the UK. This will allow comparison between countries, and provide valuable data for use by others in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Enabling children to be closer to nature, especially by learning and exploring in wooded areas and forests, was recognised as a key action in the government’s 25-year Environment Plan, published earlier this year. Yet despite the well-proven benefits of children spending regular time outdoors—including health and wellbeing, attitudes to learning, and environmental awareness—there is poor understanding about the current level of outdoor activities for young people across England, particularly in wooded areas and forests.

The Bringing Children Closer to Nature survey aims to explore barriers and opportunities to activities in wooded areas and forests, including the practice of Forest School, and it will quantify any issues preventing development and growth. Its three main aims are to:

  1. acquire basic information, including the number and distribution of schools and other organisations who do forest education activities including Forest School, and the levels of training and skills among practitioners;
  2. understand more about barriers and opportunities to establishing and sustaining forest education, including Forest School, among host organisations (e.g. schools, early years nurseries) and practitioners, and explore how these could be overcome;
  3. explore potential interest among woodland owners in providing greater access to woodland sites to support forest education, including Forest School.

This national survey forms part of the Forest Schools for All project, a partnership between Sylva Foundation, The Ernest Cook Trust (funder) and The Forest School Association

Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“Efforts to enable, increase, and sustain activities for young people in our woodlands and other outdoor areas across England have been held back by a poor evidence base. This important survey will provide a powerful voice for those with an interest and expertise in bringing children closer to nature. The survey outcomes will help inform delivery, funding opportunities, and policy development and will be freely available.”

Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, Dr Victoria Edwards, said:

“It’s been invaluable to work alongside experienced professionals at Sylva Foundation and Forest School Association to produce such a targeted research survey. The outcomes will influence decisions on how we work at The Ernest Cook Trust in broadening our reach to inspire young people to learn from the land.

The survey was launched in November 2018 and will remain open until the end of the year. Research outcomes will summarised in a freely-accessible report in early 2019. Those people interested in taking the survey can read more and follow a link to it here: www.sylva.org.uk/survey

click here to take part in the British Woodlands 2012 survey

click here to take part in the survey

Download the press release

ENDS


Notes for Editors

Contacts:

For media enquiries and to arrange interviews please contact Jen Hurst, Head of Forest Education, Sylva Foundation.  jen@sylva.org.uk or 01865 408018

Images:

Images are available to download (reproduction free). Please contact us for further information. All images © Sylva Foundation.

About the partners:

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity helping trees and people grow together. From its base at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire, it works across the UK supporting sustainable forest management with thousands of woodland owners. It works widely in partnership with other organisations in delivering environmental and educational projects, under the themes of science, education, forestry, and wood. www.sylva.org.uk

The Ernest Cook Trust, based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, inspiring young people to achieve better educational and life outcomes by learning from the land and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside. It owns and manages more than 8,900 hectares of landed estates across five English counties. ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through education programmes (including Forest School training) on its own estates, through partnerships with other organisations, and through its grant-giving programme. Each year its Trustees distribute around £2m in dedicated grants to a range of education initiatives. www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk

The Forest School Association is the National professional body for Forest School, running the recognised providers and trainers’ scheme to ensure high quality Forest School. It has more than 2,000 members. www.forestschoolassociation.org


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Courses: Treewrighting and timber-framing March 2019

posted on November 2, 2018

One-day courses, 20th-24th March 2019

We are pleased to offer five one-day courses in treewrighting and timber-framing, from 20th to 24th March.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

During this one-day course you will learn and develop skills in the making of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques. Teaching will be provided by highly experienced craftspeople in the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Learning will include a selection of the following, catering for a wide range of skill and experience :

  • Axe jointing “treewrighting”
  • Cleaving and dressing logs
  • Converting timbers
  • Shaping timbers
  • Carving wooden tree nails
  • Hewing logs by axe

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). Although you will be working undercover, the course will be ‘outdoors’, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing.

Drinks and hot food will be provided, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) may be available on the site, or locally. More details will follow your booking.

A programme of evening events will also be on offer, including a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

You may book for more than one day. Please note that the activities will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before you sign up to all five days!

Carpenters Fellowship

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 20th March 2019 book-now
Thursday, 21st March 2019 book-now
Friday, 22nd March 2019 book-now
Saturday, 23rd March 2019 book-now
Sunday, 24th March 2019 book-now

 

 


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Course: Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

posted on October 10, 2018

Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

9am-4pm, Saturday 23rd March 2019

Led by Damian Goodburn BA PhD, a leading archaeological woodwork specialist, this workshop will be held in our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Saxon broad axe work

Saxon broad axe work. Damian Goodburn demonstrating.

Learn about Anglo-Saxon building woodwork, based mainly on the study of surviving wooden remains, including a review of relatively new evidence, with live demonstrations of tools and techniques, and opportunities to watch treewrighting in action.

Morning activities will include illustrated talks covering the themes below, starting with evidence for how woodland resources were managed. Samples of books and publications will be discussed, including many rare items.

  1. The variation in woodland materials from ‘wildwood’ to intensive coppiced woodland.
  2. An overview of the range of waterlogged building woodwork remains found in Saxon and Saxo-Norman period England c.500-1180 AD when ‘carpentry’ and formal ‘timber-framing’ arrived from France.
  3. Evidence for basic techniques carried out without saws, including felling, bucking, radial, tangential cleaving, hewing various shaped timbers, styles of wattlework.
  4. Evidence for the range of joints and fastenings used, taps and locks, tusk tenons, laft joints, tongue and groove, scarfs, treenails and rove nails.
  5. Tool marks and tool kits, narrow axes, broad axes, ‘groping irons’.
  6. Evidence for ‘built-in’ furniture and fittings such as beds, benches, hearths, storage bins, and coops, doors and windows.
  7. Relevant ethnographic evidence from later timber buildings in the ‘Homelands’ areas on the east side of the North Sea, less influenced by French-style timber-framed carpentry, and how that can be used to extend archaeological evidence from England.

Afternoon activity will involve handling real samples of Saxon woodwork, and high-quality replica tools and fastenings.

Throughout the day demonstrations will be used to illustrate some basic techniques essential to treewrighting, including cleaving a small straight green log (oak or ash c. 150-200mm diam by 1.8-2m long) using wooden wedges, hewing with a narrow-bladed and broad-bladed ‘T’ axe, simple Saxon joint cutting, and willow treenail (wythenails) making.

While the course is underway, delegates will be able to to witness a range of related treewrighting activities nearby, thanks to members of the Carpenters’ Fellowship working on the frame of the House of Wessex.

Cost £75.00. Lunch provided. 20 places maximum. Safety boots essential.

book-now

Book your place


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Become a Patron of the House of Wessex

posted on October 9, 2018

The House of Wessex is a unique reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon house of significant importance in English history. The faithful reconstruction of the building, working with dozens of volunteers, and an associated programme of learning, is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Sylva Foundation needs help to raise funds to realise the project’s full potential, and establish a legacy fund.

House of Wessex banner

House of Wessex banner

BRONZE  *  £250

Your donation will help us create and manage a unique historical reconstructed building — thank you.

  • We will write to you personally to thank you, recognising your significant contribution.
  • A personalised certificate recognising your contribution.
  • Your name will be appear in an online Patrons Board.

SILVER  * £500

Your support will mean we can build a better future for the House of Wessex, and our education programme.

Everything in BRONZE, plus . . .

  • Your name will be displayed in the building on a Patrons Board.
  • An invitation to a unique evening of Anglo-Saxon activities.

GOLD  *  £1,000

In recognition of your significant support, we offer some very special perks.

Everything in BRONZE and SILVER, plus . . .

  • Your name hand-carved in a beam or post. You can even learn to carve some of your own letters with a master craftsperson.
  • Invitation to a VIP opening of the building in autumn 2019.
  • Limited edition print of the building and reconstructed scene by a leading archaeological reconstruction artist.

 

Every pound we raise will go directly to the House of Wessex project. Thank you.

 

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

If you would prefer to talk with someone in the Sylva team, please call 01865 408018.

 


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