In early 2019 the trustees had a condition report carried out, which was designed to give an overview of our specific requirements as recommended by an Arboriculturalist. By the time we had gained the necessary permissions from Historic England and Wiltshire Planning it was too late in the year to commence work, birds nesting etc.  Later in 2019 we were able to circulate a Statement of Requirement for the following trees to four local tree specialists:

T Number Species Findings Action
T 2 Oak Severe die-back Veteran pruning as prescribed, removed wood to be reduced to manageable lengths and stacked in a stable stack by base of remaining tree.
T 3 Ash Significant decay pockets throughout the canopy Clear fell and removed.  Permission will have to be negotiated with Parish Council when felling plan is developed.
T 4 Ash Severe base decay Clear fell, removed wood to be reduced to manageable lengths and stacked in a stable stack.
T 5 Ash Severe base decay Clear fell, removed wood to be reduced to manageable lengths and stacked in a stable stack.
T 6 Beech Severe base decay Fell towards the East so that the main truck can be rolled to the South, made stable and created into a sawn bench looking North towards the ornamental pond.

Three contractors responded to our requirements and the Trustees were able to select the most suitable solution.  As you will be aware we then suffered the wettest winter here in Downton for many a year, therefore delaying work on the trees in a bid to minimise damage to the ground and access areas.  I am pleased to say that all trees have now been felled and made safe with a minimum of damage to our Moot.

Felled timber awaiting collection



Some of the trunks have been stacked in the car park in readiness for a wood merchant to carry off site for sale.  It is our intention to use this money to assist with the purchase of new stock for planting down by the ornamental pond.  At the moment this area is yet to be cleared due to the wet conditions.  I will post a new report on how we would like to plant this area with moist loving trees in the future.




I do hope that our necessary tree management work has not been too intrusive to your continued use of the paths during the first months of 2020.  I have included some photos of the felled trees so that you can see how damaged they were internally.  All trees have a life span and these had reached it.

Grand-old Oak on the Bailey




Starting with the old Oak, this tree was quite damaged in the Great Storm in the 1980s when it was first relieved of its broken branches.  We have had to shorten each of these again due to internal rotting; hopefully she will be able to provide food and perches for more years to come.





In the end there were four Ash trees that needed attention, in fact one of them suffered from the wind before we were able to deal with her, falling into the river.  As you can see from the photos these trees were rotting from the inside resulting in die back within the canopy.  In particular the two Ashes by the river were rotting out from their roots.

Finally the grand old Beech, which had developed a fungus around most of its girth, this is a sure sign that the tree is stressed from within.  Now that she is felled we can see that a large part of her main trunk had died in the centre, leaving just a small rim of living wood on the outside.

All these photos confirm that we have made the right decision to fell so now when the ground has dried sufficiently we can tidy up and prepare for new planting in the autumn.

Where is our fountain?

And finally our ornamental pond which has been overflowing since the river flooded just after Christmas.  I have identified an inflow of water coming in on the South East side of the pond.  This is still running quite fast, which has kept the water level up higher than the river, causing the outflow into the river.  With the height of the water threatening the electrics for the fountain I have had to isolate them.  Please see my final photo of the pond looking East towards the river, where is the fountain?  I hope it will still be there when we are back to normal levels.



Jeremy Parsons

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