Forest of Bere Woodturners Newsletter Pages


Forest of Bere Woodturners Archive Pages


The meeting was opened in the usual way with notices etc plus an update on our last venture into entering the SAW’s annual competition of which we took third place. Thanks was given to everyone you lent pieces for exhibiting.

Then came the main event of the evening when the Chairman introduced Julian Hight who had come along to give a talk on the History and Legends of the world’s ancient trees.

Julian thanked the club for inviting him to give his talk and started off by stating that whilst he was down this way he had gone to St Mary’s Church on Hayling Island to visit a very old tree in the Churchyard.

Then he went on to talk about old Oak trees with girths of over ten meters plus and with estimated ages of around Four Thousand Years. Also mentioned was the old Elm trees plus the Ash with the elevated ages and girths.

He mentioned Kingly Vale and the old Yew trees that stand there and how the myth of the whole of the UK being covered in trees was just that a myth.

Through the aid of photographs he was able to show many examples of these old trees and the pastures around them.

I was surprised to see in one of his books a photo of an old Oak tree that stood in the Churchyard, Headcorn Kent which as a child of 11 I used to play in, it finally collapsed I believe in 1999.

Julian told us of his travels around the world to Australia, Japan, Norway and Asia looking for the oldest trees in the world. His trip to Japan was mainly to see the Cherry Blossom in full bloom which he managed to do way up in the mountains.

The main thing that came across from Julian was his excitement and passion about the old trees not just here in the UK but all around the world.

His quest is to help preserve these trees in conjunction with the Ancient Tree Forum.

It was a very entertaining and informative meeting with many questions being asked and more information about more old trees from the audience.

Julian was given a very deserved round of applause.

Written by Don Smith.

The Hazardous Project.

By Iain Grant.

As my presentation at the club night last year, was apparently interesting to all the members present on the night, I thought I would bring you up to date with what the team & myself have been doing this year, in between my efforts at wood turning!

As you may remember, Historic England gave us some funding to carry out a limited excavation on site, starting in 2017 we managed some one hundred & two hours under water for the year, over twenty visits to site! & recovered fifty-five separate items, ranging from butchered bone to lead scuppers, shoe buckles, clay pipe bowls & stems, pewter spoon handles, a couple of leather shoes & a number of other small artefacts.

So, this year we hoped to make an early start with the diving, as it looked like we may have some good weather.

As you know the weather has been good & dry, but winds have been predominately from the south-west, not good for us, also the sun brought a major plankton bloom reducing under water visibility to near zero for about six or more weeks! Hey-ho an ill wind etc. etc.

Anyway, we have managed twelve visits to the site & logged Sixty-two hours under water, recovering a total of twenty-six artefacts, including more parts of leather shoes, musket balls, parts of shoe buckles, a complete Queen Ann bale seal & a pair of dividers.

On the 7th October we had to launch from Itchenor, the “Bay Watch Babes” packed up for the winter on the 24th September so no tractor launching at Bracklesham, an hours run to site & not expecting much underwater vis, we were met with near Mediterranean conditions, flat sea, top to bottom vis in nine metres, with six meters horizontally, couldn’t miss a chance like that so, more photogrammetry!

Looking towards guns with gun deck frame ends visible under.

Photography & computer generation by Dan Pascoe.

This year in an effort to maintain the wood working theme, we recovered a shipwright’s jack plane (unfortunately in two pieces) & so as to maintain the wood turning theme as well, a section of a turned wooden bowl with what looks like the owners mark on the bottom!

Ramblings of an Old Forester

Once upon a long, long time ago a life form evolved that became a dominant part of the living world.

Then along came mankind and it all went into decline.

Was it your great grandfather who cleared the trees off long furlong paddock, where the bluebells from the original ancient woodland flora re-appear every year as a reminder that it was once woodland.

Why is the old pollard oak dying? Did your father hang the gate from its trunk & put the cattle water trough on the opposite side and expect the roots of the tree to survive the daily onslaught of cattle around the base of the tree?

When the ancient wood was felled and the stumps removed to create Old Copse Field, did the farmer realise that he had destroyed the deep soil structure of the heavy clay soil? All the crops that followed would not give a satisfactory yield for many years ahead.

The stable yard looks neat and clean but the poor old hornbeam tree is looking particularly unhappy in the back yard, with its deadly enemy, the dung heap, at its base.

The oak trees on the boundary of Furze Field have dieback in their upper branches, partly through age and partly through agricultural activities. Why did the Department of Agriculture pay a grant to prune off the lower branches to improve access to the combine harvesters? Did they not know that when the upper branches of oak trees die, the trees need their lower branches to sustain their vigour? This activity will lead to the demise of more trees.

When grey squirrels and many species of deer were introduced into this country, no one thought that by the loss of a wide variety of seeds and seedlings, our woodland structure would change and the natural regeneration of trees would be seriously inhibited.

We have been bringing trees and plants into Britain for many hundreds of years. Many hedging conifers were introduced. The hybrid Leyland cypress was bred from two cypress varieties that could not normally hybridise in their home areas. Cypress trees have been extensively used in our gardens as ornamental trees and hedging, completely changing the landscape of our villages and towns.

With all these plant and tree introductions and with easy international travel, we have introduced pests and diseases that have destroyed many of our native trees that have no defensive mechanisms. Currently our ash trees are under serious attack.

Invasive introduced species that have no natural control, such as rhododendron and knotweed compete strongly with our native woodland plants and inhibit woodland rehabilitation.  

Recently our city pavement trees have been perceived to be a nuisance, a liability, a danger, or expensive to manage, so removal programmes are taking place in many towns and cities.

In the early part of the twentieth century we replaced large areas of our Ancient woodland with faster growing conifers. Since 1986 we have worked to preserve our broadleaved tree cover and in later years are positively reverting conifer plantations growing on ancient woodland sites to native woodland.

Bill knew, that when he saw a black stain in the butt of a large felled oak, there would be a lump of iron embedded inside the tree. He knew the tree had come from the gateway of a stables so he thought the tree trunk could contain a gate hinge or a horse shoe!

Do you regularly treat your gravel drive with weed killer? The feeding roots of your neighbour’s beautiful cherry tree which spread under the drive, takes up the chemical and poisons the tree.

Does the tree look unhealthy?

More cars     Wider roads, More houses ———— LESS TREES


Peter J Noot.

However, from a woodturning point of view, we also recovered a couple of gunner’s tools, a mop head for swabbing the barrel between firings, & a rammer head, on the far right of the picture is a parrel bead, this is part of a bearing system allowing the raising & lowering of the yards, not sure what the wood is, but it is now after three hundred plus years under water, quite soft & as you can see from the picture the gribble worms like it.

Fig 1. Left to right. Mop head, rammer head, parrel bead.

Two of the team managed to carry out more photogrammetry in perfect visibility to produce an almost complete 3D image of the site, next year we will hopefully fill in the gaps.

Fig 2. Photogrammetry showing bow to the right with a number of large guns on the port side & a pile of cannon balls in the shot locker.

Photography & computer generation by Rodrigo Ortiz & Dan Pascoe.

Looking down on port side guns.

Sole & heal of leather shoe.

Ornate Buckle.

Bow leg dividers.

Shipwright’s jack plane.

Fragment of turned wooden bowl with “owners mark”

Now what’s next, well I’m sure it won’t be the ships figurehead, but we may find some smaller turned objects next year, I’ll keep you posted!