Easter Sunday’s episode of BBC One’s Countryfile came from Panshanger Park, showcasing the abundance of wildlife and the fantastic habitats that have resulted from the restoration work and successful land management at the park.
Presenters’ Matt Baker and Sean Fletcher visited the historic 1000 acre park while filming for a Hertfordshire themed episode of the show.
Tarmac has owned Panshanger Park since the 1950’s and has recently finished mineral extraction at the site. The park and gardens are Grade II* registered by English Heritage with much of the parkland being created by Humphry Repton in the late 18th century. The park is currently managed by Tarmac in partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, with support from landscape management company Maydencroft.
Presenter Matt Baker discussed the restoration work with Tarmac’s Mineral Estates Manager, Michael Charlton, looking at some of the habitats created, including five lakes and a new stretch of chalk river, which is one of less than 200 in the world.
Commenting on the interview, Michael said: “I was delighted to showcase the park to so many viewers, a site we have helped transformed through our careful land management. It was good to show viewers what we do to preserve sites of special scientific interest and to protect natural habitats. I’m a huge fan of the TV show, so to appear in the show as well was really amazing.”
Volunteer Robin Cole then showed Matt how he checks the river every month for key species, such as stone fly and mayfly, whose presence happily signify a lack of pollution in the water.
Tom Williams, Managing Director of the park’s management company, Maydencroft, introduced presenter Sean Fletcher to a herd of English Longhorn cattle who will be grazing land at Panshanger Park. The cattle were part of Humphry Repton's original vision for the park, however it is thought to be the first time that they have grazed at the site.
Finally, Matt Baker and Tim Hill, Conservation Manager at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, visited some of the park’s 800 veteran trees, including a beautiful sweet chestnut and the famous Panshanger Great Oak, the country’s tallest single-stemmed oak which is thought to be around 500 years old. Tim described how the trees become nature reserves themselves, supporting a wide variety of wildlife as they mature. Scenes then showed local volunteers helping to gradually clear the land around the Great Oak to give it space to thrive.
In 2017 Panshanger Park won the prestigious Cooper-Heyman Cup at the Mineral Product Association’s Restoration & Biodiversity Awards.
To view the BBC Countryfile report, go the episode via BBC iplayer https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0004j1c/countryfile-herts-bucks