Cirencester Park Trees Project
On Friday 21 June 2019, pupils from The Corinium Education Trust’s three primary schools took part in an innovative local creative arts and environmental project.
This project focused on the condition and legacy of the Horse Chestnut trees on the iconic Broad Avenue in Cirencester Park prior to their removal. Broad Avenue is a tree-lined promenade that represents the main route into Cirencester Park from the town. Almost 300 Horse Chestnut trees were planted in the early 1800s but just 92 remain and many of those are at the end of their lives. The Bathurst Estate plans to restore the Broad Avenue to its former glory, removing the aged and diseased trees and re-planting replacement trees for the future generations.
The schools project came about following a meeting with Joanna Welch, from The Cotswold PR Company in February 2019 who confirmed the Bathurst Estate ‘would be delighted to work with the local schools, helping to facilitate any educational projects.’
Executive Headteacher of Kemble and Siddington Church of England Primary Schools, Carol Dougill, keenly took up this invitation and opened it up to pupils from Chesterton Primary School too.
The project was coordinated by Siddington Church of England Primary School’s teacher, Miss Gregory. Pupils learnt about the history of Broad Avenue and the environmental factors affecting the horse chestnut trees. They then took part in a carousel of activities and had the opportunity to work with photographer Iain Green to make a visual record of the trees and to sketch the trees and try out new techniques including stippling, scumbling, shading, smudging and crosshatching. The pupils also used natural materials to make bookmarks, weave sticks and grasses and make installations in the style of artist, Andy Goldsworthy. A highlight of the project was their work with clay. Pupils created clay faces and pressed them into the trunks of the trees giving each tree a personality!
Carol Dougill, reflected positively on the day. ‘It was a very successful project and I am very grateful to Miss Gregory for mobilising staff and giving our pupils such a rich experience.’
Mrs Hamlett, Head of School at Siddington C of E Primary School, writes:
We were met by Lord Bathurst outside the Cricket Club who explained to all of us about the reasons why some trees will be cut down soon and replaced with new ones. The children then assembled in the main park - totalling nearly 300 children - to continue with their learning!
Children were split into groups to complete some exciting learning opportunities: sketching trees, art through nature, clay tree trunk models, weaving and decorating bookmarks with natural materials. Miss Gregory, a teacher at Siddington C of E Primary School organised the resources and activities for the day and did a brilliant job.
Many visitors to the local park stopped to talk to the adults and children about what they were doing throughout the day, commenting on what a lovely sight it was to see so many children loving their learning in nature. The weather was kind to us and allowed us to have a lovely picnic in the cricket grounds. The children were a joy to work with.
The day culminated in a question and answer session with Lord Bathurst, the children showing a deep understanding of the natural world around them and the threats to habitats. We look forward to further opportunities to visit again in the Autumn Term to see the progress on the trees planted for each school.
Quotes from the children about this experience include:
'Lord Bathurst explained that the trees had been there for hundreds of years and he changed my thoughts about deforestation. He made me think!' Tyler, aged 11
'I liked it because I like making clay models.' Sophie Mei,aged 5
'Making art out of things we could find was fun.' Maisie, aged 11
'I like doing all the natural art.' William, aged 7
'We met Lord Bathurst and he told us some interesting things about all the trees in Cirencester Park.' Trixie, aged 8