Some time ago our project surveyor Robin came across an old photograph that showed a feature to an existing footpath in the park at Knole that we were unaware of. The path appeared to be edged with two cobbled gullies.
None of us could recall seeing the gullies so we took a trip down to the path, which runs from the front of the house down to the gallops, to investigate whether we thought they still existed. Well blow me if we didn’t find a few small sections poking through the grass. The question being; was it still all there, covered by decades of mud washed down from the surrounding grassland?
To uncover the two gullies down the entire length of the path would take an army of volunteers which we don’t have at present. However help was at hand from a local division of Direct Line Insurance who were looking to conduct a corporate volunteering day.
So with 24 Direct Line personnel armed with brooms and trowels and with advice and instruction from our Archaeologist Nathalie they got to work chasing down from the area that was visible. In order to give our willing volunteers a bit of variety we split them into two groups; one group on the path and the other group collecting up some of the million plastic tree cages in the park that were installed to protect the young replanted trees following the Great Storm in 1987.
After lunch the two groups swapped over so everyone got to experience trowelling in the dirt on the path and bouncing around in the back of the truck as Paul (one of our regular volunteers) drove them off-road across the park to the plantations. (Much to the bemusement of picnickers!)
By the end of the day the teams had collected thousands of tree cages and uncovered a massive part of the cobbled gullies including an offshoot down a steep embankment!
We are extremely thankful to all the volunteers from Direct Line who worked tirelessly all day (as a reward we gave them a trip up the gate tower which is not open to the public), to Paul, Malcolm Fran, Sue and Alan our regular volunteers for setting up, looking after the team, ferrying them around, clearing away the spoil and cages and clearing away at the end of the day.
By the smiles on the faces we gather they all enjoyed themselves and got a good sense of achievement from the day.
We still have a long way to go on the path and the cages so if anyone out there would like to bring a group of volunteers for the day we would love to talk to you.
Oh and the gullies; what are they? – there are two thoughts, one being drainage for the path down the steep hill or, my favourite, tracks for carts bringing ice from the main drive up the hill to the nearby ice house – cool!
Jo, Marisha and the Premises Team