Footpath 5

Direction N – S Distance c.400m.


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Footpath 5 starts immediately east of Woodbury Hall (TL 210521). Details about the Hall, its occupants and the estate can be found in Footpath 7. An area in front of the Hall was marked out as a cricket pitch where the first game was played in 1882.


EVERTON. A cricket Club has been formed for this place under favourable conditions. Subscriptions have been given by Mr Astell, Rev. Mr Shaw, Mr Pallister and others. A field has been lent by Mr Parker Danes, who has been appointed Captain of the club, Mr J. Walker and Mr J. Brashier agreeing to share the duties of secretary and treasurer. The Rev. H. Shaw is president, and the newly appointed committee have framed useful rules. A preliminary match, between the married and the single, was played in Woodbury Park, on Thursday week, when the latter were victorious by 10 wickets; the married scored 50 and 12 and the singles 60 in one innings.


                 Beds. Mercury Saturday 24th April 1882


During the summer the owners of the Halls used to open their gardens for an afternoon for the local villagers. A fete was often held with stalls, side-shows and refreshments. Sometimes a marquee was erected and a band played. On occasions the children were taken to Woodbury Hall and back in a farm cart, specially scrubbed out for the occasion. All sorts of entertainments were laid on - seesaws, swings, a bran tub and sports. The refreshments were taken up in huge laundry baskets and there was always a sing-song on the way home. The Sunday school children used to have special outings to Woodbury or Hasells Hall.


Across the parkland to the east, often dotted with sheep, you can see the edge of White Wood (TL214520). It is an ancient woodland of about 25 hectares (60 acres). There is believed to be documentary evidence of a wood being on this site from at least 1297 and is one of few woods in the area on acid soils of the Cambridgeshire Lower Greensand. Most of the trees are pine but it is noted for fine specimens of the native small-leaved lime. Oak, hornbeam, silver birch and hazel are other examples of native trees. The sweet chestnut, beech, sycamore, turkey oak, European larch, Scots pine, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, rhododendron and yew have been planted. The limes are thought to be about 200 years old when it was extensively replanted but some of the mixed oaks date back about 300 years.


There is evidence that White Wood was managed as a plantation following enclosure in the early 1800s with a variety of exotic trees which were probably planted when Woodbury Hall was first built. The last evidence of coppicing was early in the 20th century. Because of the range of trees, plants and birds it was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest but it was denotified in 1986. In late-spring there are magnificent display of bluebells and lily of the valley.  In 1991 there was a count of 113 species of birds as well as sightings of muntjac, fox, badger and weasel.


Emily Shore, a young girl who lived at Woodbury Hall in the early-1800s was particularly interested in the area’s natural history. In her diary of 1833 she noted: -


May 16, Thursday (1833) - I did wake up at the proper time, or was woken by the children; and at five o'clock Louisa and I took an exquisite walk through the wood (White Wood). We went very slowly, and at almost every step Louisa called out, and with justice, “Oh, wonders!” The nightingales were singing in great numbers; and we saw two of them perched in the middle of a tall oak. There was also a blackcap hopping among some low bushes... Mamma takes a walk in the wood every morning, to hear the nightingales and gather lilies of the valley, which are now extremely abundant, and when gathered scent almost half the house; besides which, they are very beautiful. I particularly admire the curl outwards of the blossom.

May 21, Tuesday (1833) - At about half-past-six I went out alone into the wood. It is on one side very thick and entangled, full of briars and bushes; but on the right it is covered with grass, free from underwood, and filled with tall firs and a few other trees. I went into this part, and for, I should think, ten minutes watched a nightingale flitting about from tree to tree, and often perched on a tiny twig, so slender that it seemed unable to support it, and even shook. He was singing all the time.'


(Gates, B.T, 'Journal of Emily Shore,' (University of Virginia 1991) p.52)


About 200 metres further on there is a crossroads. The road to the west goes to Woodbury Hall, the one to the east goes through White Wood to White Wood Lodge and what was St Silvester’s church at the junction of Everton Road, Potton Road, Drove Road and Heath Road.. After a further 200 metres the road veers northwest to Woodbury Home Farm. Footpath 5 continues across a meadow full of wild flowers, including the occasional daffodil leftover when they were grown here. The footpath ends at a kissing gate beneath one of the ancient oak trees that line each side of Bridleway 4 (TL 214525). Following it west takes you down the Greensand Ridge past Woodbury Sinks (Cinques), towards the Roman Road and Woodbury Low Farm. The track to the east takes you past the northern boundary of White Wood to Drove Road. To continue the Greensand Ridge path you need to follow the track east for about 100 metres to a gap in the hedge where a signpost indicates it continuing north-eastwards across the Tetworth estate as Bridleway 5.


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