A Ramble Through The Woods


So, I've been told by a few people to write a potted history of life and back ground.  Digging out a few pictures and going down memory lane, I've come up with this: like anyone else, this accounts for only 1% of a story but may give you a flavour.

1954 - born at home in Braceborough Hall in a hamlet in South Lincolnshire, England. As a back story, this place, along with the neighbouring Greatford Hall and Shillingthorpe Hall, were all owned in the late eighteenth century by one Dr. Francis Willis who used them in his pioneering work in the new field of psychiatry. He's the guy played by the actor Ian Holm in the film "The Madness Of King George" and it's here that he carried out his radical treatments. Funny to think that I could have been born in the room where King George had been in the corner dribbling and losing America!






1960s - moved to Stamford, Lincolnshire. The usual English boys school "educashun". Polished parquet, tapioca and canings. But an inspirational English Master.

Mick



Moved to Peterborough.





Summer of '69
The early 1970s - the  carefree Ian Dury years  - but I quite enjoyed them! Thanks to Sis Chris, Cambridge Corn Exchange, Bukka White, Jimmy, Mick Taylor, Ryland, Roundhouse, Borges, Midsummer Common, Obscured by Clouds, Malc and Sue, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny and Brownie, Van the Man, Memo from Turner and Lucy.... to name just a few.

1976 - The Long Hot Summer - decided to go into the woods.
Back note - the land area under trees in the UK is about 10%. Of this, half is owned by the state Forestry Commission, the other half is owned privately, by large estates, by private forestry companies and by farmers. I decided to go the private way. It was then more geared to the growing of hardwoods, less regulated and bureaucratic, more autonomous and with a lot more opportunity to work with characters in historical settings. This piece written by Evelyn Waugh (below) is just the kind of thing that could and did happen in these kind of places. There were many laughs to be had.





1976 - worked in the forestry department of the nearby Grimsthorpe estate for Lord Ancaster and Baroness Jane Willoughby de Eresby. A traditional estate of 15,000 acres, of which 1,500 were woodland. Twelve woodsmen. A beautiful place where I learned my craft from the old woodsmen and under the tutelage of Mr. J. T. Minto, Head Forester.

1979 - 1982 - the estate sponsored me to attend the Scottish School of Forestry near Inverness to get my qualifications.

Below ... Mr. J. T. Minto and Jonathan Steele in the woods at Grimsthorpe.




1984 - appointed Head Forester at Grimsthorpe.




A Royal Forestry Society meeting at Brocklesby Park, Lincolnshire.
(photo and words by Mr. C. D. C. Pound.  F.R.I.C.S.)






1988 - pictured at Grimsthorpe with my two little boys.








The estate also owned Drummond Castle in Perthshire, Scotland and small estates at Gwydyr, North Wales and Aldwark, Yorkshire. I went to these last two places every year with a small team of woodsmen to manage the woodlands. One of the more interesting jobs was clearing the washed down timber and roots from Swallow Falls, Betws-y-Coed, Snowdonia, which entailed abseiling down in wet-suits and with chain-saws. Risky - but great fun!



A picture of everyday work in the woods, showing a clear fell. The following year it is fenced and planted with young trees and the whole process starts again.






Forestry Steward at the Lincolnshire Show

1988 - 1994 - Head Forester at the Dunecht Estates, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 66,000 acres, of which 6,600 were forestry. Owned by Lord Cowdray and the Pearson family.
A good experience; a different kind of forestry - upland, coniferous and highly commercial.



Keeping my hand in - Scotland.

1994 - back to England as Head Forester to Sherborne Castle Estates, Dorset.

Back to the hardwoods, for Mr. Simon Wingfield Digby.











2003 onwards - self-employed. Designing and making what you see.






The kind of windblown oak that the product are made from now.




Well, that's it. It's been funny looking back. Will this do??!!

Jonathan.