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The realigning of Scarrow Beck
Historically Scarrow Beck was straightened quite early and with the changes in agricultural management in its catchment area, there has been a significant build up of silt going into the lake. The straightened Beck has not been able to flood into the surrounding pasture and deposit its silt before reaching the lake. Realigning part of Scarrow Beck, was part of a Higher Level agricultural Scheme (HLS). The stream now no longer runs in a straight line but meanders across the pasture following some of the lower depressions, still visible in the ground, flowing into the small pond close to the footpath and then into the lake through the newly constructed weir which will allow the stream to behave in a much more natural manner. The weir allows control of the water levels in winter and spring and the field above the lake will now flood much further up in winter than previously. This should encourage wet loving species to spread, providing a greater diversity of plants and insects.
Felbrigg Great Wood
Explore the 3.3km way-marked walk through the Great Wood and parkland, you'll see a wide variety of trees of all ages, including ancient Beeches, some of which were pollarded in the past. Indeed part of the Great Wood used to be known as Felbrigg Beeches. Also Oak, some ancient, Sweet Chestnut, Hawthorn, Ash and Sycamore.
Planted over many generations timber production was the primary purpose of this 380 acre wood.
The ice house
The bricks are of a late 17th century size and type and one of them is dated 1633, although the Gothic detailing suggests they are 18th century. It is thought that it may have been built of bricks from a demolished section of the 17th century park wall. This is not a partially collapsed ice house but was built to look like a ruin.
The shaft is 28 feet deep, and is a favourite place for the bats to hibernate.
It is reputed although unconfirmed, that the forming of the lake - originally there were three rectangular lakes filled with fish destined for the kitchens - might have been one of Humphry Repton's earliest projects. Created by joining together the three smaller ponds, the new lake was the perfect place to lazily unwind during long summer days or entertain visiting members of the genteel set who were enjoying holidays in nearby fashionable Cromer.
The countryside team
The countryside team are always busy around the estate, and you can find out what they are getting up to on their blog.
St. Margaret's Church
Felbrigg Church stands about a quarter of a mile south-east of the Hall. the building is mainly late 14th century. The interior is full of interest and character, and perhaps not very much changed since the celebrated Norwich School painter John Sell Cotman was married here in January 1809. The nave is given over to Georgian box pews and the roofs of nave and chancel are good examples of 15th century carpentry.
Reconstituting the heath
On the right as you drive into the main entrance of Felbrigg, about 10 hectares is being returned to the heathland that it would have been in 1860. The Wavy Hairgrass, pictured above, has come up in the heathland restoration area. It is a typical heathland grass which hasn’t been recorded at Felbrigg in the last ten years. We are removing the non-native species such as the conifers, digging up and grinding out the stumps. The nutrient rich soil/leaf mould is then stripped off to get back to the basic seed bed. Ling heather is already coming through and it is hoped that we will see Bell heather in time. It is hoped that this heathland will encourage Nightjar and Woodlark to nest there; also this environment will increase biodiversity and be good for Green Tiger Beetles, Bumble Bees; Wasps and Solitary Bees. There will be some thinning of the woodland around this heathland area - in all some 15 hectares. In 1860 this heathland would have been managed by gorse cutting (gorse was used for fires and bedding) and animal grazing. We will cut the heather using a tractor and it is hoped that some native breeds of cattle can be introduced to graze this heathland.