• Hatch Park history

    The latest addition to the historical archive is this slightly wacky image of six people decking the boughs of an ancient hornbeam pollard in Hatch Park, near Ashford in Kent. Dating from around 1880 it's a cabinet size albumen print taken by Robert Stirling (I can find no mention of Stirling as a professional photographer in Kent). This is extremely off-beat for a group photograph of this period. Who were they? Whatever possessed them?

    What this photograph does show rather well is a recently pollarded ancient hornbeam - trees that had already been associated with the deer park and its related woodland at Hatch Park for many centuries and, indeed, still very much the case today with an ongoing conservation strategy to maintain these very special trees. I was there nine years ago and photographed several thriving examples of these hornbeams - a native tree of course, but its range very much associated with south-east England.

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