AQIVA News Letter 21

Friends of the AMPHITHEATRE QUERNS WOOD and IV ACRE FIELD

Newsletter No. 21
Winter 2020 – Spring 2021

You may be familiar with an organisation known as the Green Gym (although we now learn that they no longer use this name). They are involved in maintaining/improving/developing all of the grounds around Cirencester Hospital, which are more extensive than you may realise. They do overlap with us from time to time in Querns Wood, but in all the years we’ve been in existence, we’ve never so much as mentioned them, so it’s high time we rectified that, and we are grateful to Andre Curtis (hospital grounds and landscape consultant) for the following information.

Cirencester hospital grounds and gardens

Starting in 2011, health promotion originally funded a project branded Green Gym under the auspices of Trust of Conservation Volunteers. However, this was withdrawn in 2017, since when the project has been wholly funded by Health and Care Foundation NHS Trust Estates and can no longer be referred to as a Green Gym.

Cirencester hospital is fortunate in having extensive grounds with a variety of different areas, with formal borders, courtyard gardens, lawns, orchard, wilderness area, meadow walks and woodland.
Part of the woodland around the site is leased to the Town Council, but the network of paths was developed with the help of the hospital project. The hospital grounds are a key element in the network of interlinked open space. The aim has been to link the different areas to enhance their value as recreation areas, but also to improve access.

All the maintenance and development work on the hospital site is carried out by volunteers, under the management of two paid landscape managers. The project operates every Thursday 10 am to 1pm with only a two week break at Christmas. Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and with range of abilities. We would particularly welcome volunteers who are looking to learn new skills or need some work experience, though it would suite anyone who would like to do some outdoor work in very pleasant surroundings with little or no practical experience.

Prospective volunteers please get in touch with the hospital volunteer coordinator Richard.hobbs@ghc.nhs.uk or 03004218363.

Many thanks for that, Andre. Much of what they do is in areas not often visited by the general public, and they beaver away quietly in the background, but their work is extremely valuable, so if you would like to lend a hand, please get in touch with Richard as above.

So, on to our usual run around what’s been going on or planned within the AQIVA complex.

AMPHITHEATRE

Not difficult to imagine some ghostly Roman figures appearing from the mist

A reluctant decision has been made that a further visit by the Ermine Street Guard (Roman re-enactment) will not be part of the programme for this year, but, hopefully, 2022……
Equally, our usual physical guided tours of the amphitheatre, as part of Heritage Open Day in September, will not take place this year, but we are exploring the possibility of a virtual tour, including drone images. We’ll keep you posted of any developments.

Back in the autumn, a small area in the corner by the long barrow (Waitrose corner) was cleared by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust for wildflower sowing, though it will be 2 or 3 years before there is much to see.

The stone plinth with the information plaque at the south western end of the amphitheatre bowl has not worn well. Some of this has been natural weathering, but sadly there seems to have been a fair amount of deliberate damage.

On a brighter note, the snowdrops put in their usual appearance.

We have resumed our visitor counts. Alison will be in touch as and when, but please help out with an hour of your time if you can.

FOUR ACRE FIELD

Here are a few pictures we wanted to share. .

Sunset
Frost

Spring has arrived (sort of)

However, the main event in 4 acre field has been the planting of a hedgerow along the eastern border. There are getting on for 350 shrubs and bushes, plus a few trees, all of which were provided by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), and there is a great mix of varieties:

Blackthorn, Alder, Buckthorn, Dog Rose, Field Maple, Field Rose, Quickthorn, Hazel & Privet

The area still needs some clearance work to be done and it will take some time for it all to become fully established, but it will be a significant improvement on the tangled mess of bramble, thistle, nettle, dock and sundry other growth that has been there for so many years.

Obelisk

You may recall from newsletter 19 that we were given an award by the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) for all the ongoing work being carried out at the obelisk. We planned to hold an open event for the installation of the plaque and generally to raise public awareness of AQIVA and what we do across our whole area of interest, not just the obelisk. Well, that didn’t happen! So with no fanfare, no crowds, in fact, with no nothing, the plaque was put in place a few weeks ago (see next page). Sad that we couldn’t share this but that doesn’t detract from our pride, and our sincere thanks go to those of you who have contributed in various ways over the past several years to achieve this.

One more picture, (a less common view of the obelisk) and then we’ll start to wrap this up and let you get on with your day.

So, just a couple of last pieces of information – our committee meetings have started again so we’ve all been busy zooming once a month. If you want any more information, please contact our secretary, Alison, at aqivasec@gmail.com or use the website contact us page

And if you have friends, family, neighbours or anyone who might be interested in learning more about what is going on, please pass on our contact details.

For more news, follow us on social media:

See also the notice board at the entrance from Chesterton Lane into 4 Acre Field

If you have friends, family, neighbours or anyone who might be interested in learning more about what is going on, please pass on our contact details.