Essex Countryside & Wildlife Course
The aim of the course was to encourage a better understanding of the countryside and wildlife of Essex, and how these have changed over the centuries.
The course looked at how the wildlife, wild plants, social history, landscape and architecture are all interrelated. These are what have shaped our country of Essex. Consequently topics were not presented just in isolation but in context to present the story of Essex.
Apparently diverse topics such as the results of ancient glaciers and medieval woodland management for fallow deer, came together to give perfect conditions for that special wild Essex flower, the oxlip. They also gave rise to the county's historic timber architecture such as Cressing Temple Barns and timber framed cottages.
Our coastal estuarine mud not only provides food for an incredible population of wintering wildfowl, and support for saltmarsh plants but also holds the oyster pits of a once large oyster fishing way of life. The flatness of our estuaries shaped the design of our sailing barges, but also gave rise to the making of salt, which has been produced in Essex from pre-Roman times up to today.
John Constable's paintings give insight into the workings of Essex watermills, which in turn retain a landscape that help the survival of dragonflies and damselflies.
The above examples are just part of a developing picture that gradually came together as the course progresses, Whilst each year's course was self-contained, each year looked at different aspects of Essex's wildlife and countryside, so many students benefited from attending the course over a number of years.
Annual Day Out - Class members and friends