Our work caring for nature at Brockhampton
It’s not just the medieval manor at Brockhampton that requires year-round conservation, but the 1,700-acre estate too. Wildlife is just as important as heritage here; read on and discover more about recent work the team have undertaken to help care for nature.
Relocating Brockhampton’s badgers
A family of badgers have resided in a large sett on the Brockhampton estate for many years. Concerns were raised by structural engineers that the sett was expanding rather closely to a large dam, making the surrounding area unstable, as well as the imminent threat of loss of water.
The move begins
If the dam did collapse it could also cause irreparable damage to the historic estate and surrounding ecosystems. After much deliberation it was decided the best plan of action was to carry out temporary repairs and surveys which then led to the decision to relocate the badgers to a new sett on the estate.
Sett construction principles
Badgers are excellent diggers with strong forearms and long claws, adequately built to create underground burrows and chambers, known as a sett.
A simple sett consists of several tunnels with various sleeping chambers at the end. Other chambers will eventually be dug to the side of the tunnel creating extra space. Over time, the sett will continue to expand.
Setts are always arranged so there is a constant supply of fresh air to each chamber and are usually located on slight slopes, to avoid the risk of the badger’s home being flooded. The chambers themselves are quite small, so much so that a fully-grown badger could not stretch out in one.
Relocation, relocation, relocation
When the sett is no longer adequate, or the badger’s territories change, they will relocate, leaving the abandoned sett free for rabbits or foxes to move in.
The rangers and volunteers worked hard to create a ‘bigger and better’ sett for the resident badgers in hope they will leave their current home for the upgrade.
Once the new sett was constructed, peanut trails were left to encourage the badgers to suss out their new home and soil from outside the old sett was sprinkled nearby as an appealing familiar scent.
Bees are vital for pollinating crops, garden flowers and wildflowers.
Recent years have seen a decline in bumblebee numbers throughout the UK, with two types of bumblee becoming extinct within the past 80 years, and eight species currently on the endangered list.
The increased use of pesticide alongside a decrease in wildflower meadows are thought to be the reasons for this decline.
Brockhampton’s mission to save the bees
The team at Brockhampton have been working hard to help bees thrive on the 1,700-acre estate.
A group of volunteers enrolled on a monitoring course with The Bumblebee Conservation Trust to enable them to confidently identify and record bees throughout the estate and gardens.
Wildflower meadows and garden flowers
Many of the meadows on the Brockhampton estate are left wild with footpaths cut through. Wildflowers in these meadows are favoured by bees as, unlike many modern hybrids, they are flat and open meaning nectar is in easy reach for the bee. By creating more wildflower meadows, we are increasing habitats for bees.
Bumblebees feed exclusively on pollen and nectar which is why the garden at Brockhampton is also planted in a bee-friendly way with foxgloves, lavender and daisies.
Honeybees at Brockhampton
It’s not just bumblebees the team care for here at Brockhampton; they also have two skeps which native Black honeybees call home.
The Black honeybee was thought to be extinct a decade ago when a deadly virus swept through the species, wiping out nearly all colonies.
European honeybees began settling in the UK, but they're not as adapted to survive the cold British winters. The two species have started interbreeding, making the hybrid offspring more adapted to the colder climate.
With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.
Explore the wider estate and parkland and look for the flora and fauna you can spot on a seasonal walk over this 1,700-acre estate.
At the heart of the estate lies Lower Brockhampton Manor house, a late 14th century timber-framed house, surrounded by a moat and entered via a timber-framed gatehouse.
Find out more about the orchards at Brockhampton and the ‘Reimagining’ the lost orchards project.
Uncover 600 years of history inside this timber framed manor house and learn how it evolved to meet the different needs of different generations who lived there.
Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.