Cathedral Wood has a 200 year destiny for restoration

2 June 2000

Cathedral Wood has a 200 year destiny for restoration

An oak wood planted to celebrate the millenium will

have particular significance for Lincoln Cathedral in 2200.

Robin Cradock reports

LOTS of millennium woods and avenues are now gracing our countryside. But few can compete for long-term future strategy with the wood established at the Lincolnshire Showground, where new oak saplings have been pledged for the restoration of Lincoln Cathedral in 200 years time.

The Cathedral Wood, planned and sponsored by agricultural suppliers Brown Butlin, is one of two projects the company is backing to support the countys finest building. This week saw the dedication of the wood, and the launch of *A Bite Out Of History, a fascinating mixture of facts, food and recipes from one thousand years. All profits from this 68 page book will go to the Cathedral Fabric Fund.

The book has been compiled by Christine Lloyd-Knight, last years BBC Midlands MasterChef, who first came to the attention of the company when she specified on the TV programme that she was using Lincoln Red beef for one of her competition dishes.

It is however not just a compilation of recent recipes, but is the result of an extensive trawl through many ancient libraries, including the one at Lincoln which was devised by Sir Christopher Wren. Each chapter gives a fascinating insight into a period, including wages, the cost of food and the way it was preserved and served.

&#42 Food warning

While Christine gives one warning from her 1000 – 1484 AD section that she has "found evidence of some things that were eaten that we would probably not consider today. Sheeps feet, pigs ears and even umbilical cords from newly born animals, were baked in a pie and eaten." All the recipes have been tried, tested, and where necessary brought up to date.

The relative costs of food make fascinating reading. For instance, in 1755 meat was very cheap compared with dairy produce, with beef and mutton costing the equivalent of one old penny a lb while cheese was twice that and butter tuppence-hapenny. At that time a farm labourer would be on 16p a week and craftsman £1 a week. By 1906 the farm labourers wage had gone up to 75p a week, while dock labourers were on £1.15

Brown Butlins Paul Steer who has spent the past year working on the book with Christine is optimistic that the project will raise "a good few thousands of pounds" for the fabric fund. At the same time it should stimulate interest in both history and regionally produced food, tracing as it does the progress of cooking from the stewing pot and open hearth to the microwave – an invention which is one of Christines pet hates.

&#42 Long-term aim

While the book is aimed to be an immediate money spinner, the Cathedral Wood on the other hand has a very long-term aim. Planted on just under 3ha (6.5 acres) of the Lincolnshire Showground it is hoped that of the 1020 oaks, between 30 and 50 will be ready in 200 years time to be used in restoration work at the cathedral, although smaller trees may be used in the interim.

As Pauls colleague, Bill Halliwell explains: "We have planted some 24 native species, or some 5184 plants in all. The woodland habitat combines a mixed species of trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers historically indigenous and suited to this part of Lincolnshire. The main species mix is English oak, silver birch, goat willow, hazel, ash, plus mixed broad-leaved trees and shrubs. At the heart of the wood is a yew propagated from a tree estimated to be over 2000 years old, signifying the birth of Christ.

"Already we are getting school parties visiting, and seeing how farmers and landowners care for the countryside, and we have designed it with the agricultural society to provide a safe environment for those children. Working with the society should also ensure the wood will be there in 200 years time."

In addition a "Saxon" hedge of some 880m is being incorporated into the scheme. This type of hedge has to have 10 different native species every 30m, the 1680 plants should be good for another thousand years.

The wood will be blessed and the book launched at the Showground today (June 2) by the Bishop of Lincoln the Right Rev Robert Hardy.

*A Bite out of History, £8.50 + £1 p&p is available from Cathedral Fund-raising, 4 Priorygate, Lincoln LN2 1PL.

Emma Woolfson, Lincolnshire Agricultural Society secretary, plants the final oak in the Cathedral Wood at the Lincs Showground assisted by (back left) Paul Steer of sponsor Brown Butlin and Paul Tarling, showground manager and (front) Bill Halliwell of Brown Butlin.

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