of the woodland to the south of the Museum is open to the public. Within the
woodland there is an area of hazel coppice, reflecting the importance of
coppice wood in the traditional rural economy.
few years ago the hillside above the Museum was covered with mature beech
trees. These have recently been felled for timber, but regeneration of a
wide variety of species is taking place. In due course the hillside will
again be covered with trees, but this time ash, beech, hornbeam and sycamore
will form a mixed woodland.
small section of the woodland consists of hazel coppice. In a coppice, poles
are cut every few years, leaving a 'stool' from which a fresh crop of poles
will grow. Many species of tree have been coppiced, but today only hazel and
chestnut are cut commercially. Coppiced woodlands were once of considerable
importance in the rural economy, the young wood providing the raw material
for many products. Coppiced hazel was used to make hurdles for sheep
enclosures, feeding cages, wattle panels in timber framed buildings, the
hoops of barrels used to hold dry products, and many other purposes. Today
only hurdles are made in significant numbers.
Museum has brought the coppice back into rotation and it provides hazel for
thatching spars and wattle fencing. In addition, the Museum manages hazel
coppice on a local estate owned by the National Trust. We also work closely
with local coppice workers to develop outlets for many products, both
traditional and new.