South Lincolnshire Country Tracks


South Lincolnshire

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Hello. Today I'm on a journey in the east of England,

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travelling through the historic flatlands of South Lincolnshire.

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I'm starting my journey near Stamford at Burghley House,

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where I'll be granted a rare insight into the life of an amazing man

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who created this building and helped alter the course of British history.

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This is the draft in William Cecil's hand

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of the warrant to execute Mary, Queen of Scots.

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-THE draft?

-THE draft.

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'Then I'll walk the course, getting a unique rider's eye view

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'of the hazards of Burghley's famous horse trials.'

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They have to jump off that.

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-Quite intimidating, isn't it?

-It's quite spectacular, yes.

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'I'll travel northeast,

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'where I'll put my nose to the grindstone

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'discovering how the country's tallest windmill is being brought back to life.'

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The crowning glory will be when those sails go on.

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There might be an odd tear and bit of a shake in the voice

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and definitely a glass of champagne.

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'Pushing on west to Easton Gardens, I discover how one woman's passion

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'has reclaimed this 400 year-old lost treasure.

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'And finally I'll come full circle back to where I started

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'as I get close and personal with endangered creatures from the deep

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'found in the lakes of Burghley House.'

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Oh, wow.

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They're tiny, aren't they?

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And, along the way, I'll be looking back at the very best

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of the BBC's rural programmes from this part of the world.

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Welcome to Country Tracks.

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Lincolnshire is a county famous for its agriculture.

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Its flat, fertile landscape makes it perfect farming country.

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But it's also a place of great beauty and intriguing history.

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I'm starting my journey just outside Stamford, which in days gone by

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was an important staging post on the route north to south.

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But the stone town's ancient architecture is outshone

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by the Tudor glory of nearby Burghley House,

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built by local man William Cecil in 1555.

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And it's here that I'm making my first stop.

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William Cecil, or Lord Burghley as he was also known,

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was at the heart of Queen Elizabeth I's court.

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But he went further than that.

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He was her confidante, influencing international events

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and shaping the course of our nation's history.

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Philip, we are clearly heading up, but what's the destination?

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Well, this is the original Tudor grand staircase

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and we are going up to a place which people don't normally get to see.

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'To find out more about the man and his house,

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'I'm following estate manager, Philip Gompertz.'

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And here we are on the roof of Burghley.

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-The roof?

-Yeah.

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-Wow!

-Quite something, isn't it?

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It's incredible. What a landscape up here. All these pillars, what are they, chimneys?

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Most are chimneys. A mixture of classical features you can see up here.

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Burghley was very much influenced by the classical studies.

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You can see these Doric columns are chimneys. You've got pinnacles.

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Triumphal arches. Obelisks.

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It's showing his new-found knowledge and wealth that he had.

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-He was showing that off to the people.

-What an unusual space.

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It's a bold statement, isn't it? So, why this, why here?

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He built it for one main reason,

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and that was to entertain and flatter Queen Elizabeth I.

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-The Queen? So she would have come here, would she?

-She was meant to come here in 1565.

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She was due to visit Lord Burghley here.

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Unfortunately, his daughter caught smallpox the day before she was due to arrive

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and the Queen ended up staying in a local convent nearby and she never ended up staying here.

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And this was slightly to prove himself. I mean, he was new money.

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-He wasn't old aristocracy.

-He wasn't actually aristocracy.

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His father was in the court but from a farming background.

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You can see a number of locations on the roof where there are reminiscences of that.

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The wheatsheaf on the coat of arms which shows his origins as a family.

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The chimneys here were showing that he had this classical knowledge,

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but the number of chimneys is showing off there number of rooms he had in his new house

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and the number of servants he had.

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The more smoke you saw meant more wealth at the time.

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It's very ornate up here.

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It looks like it's to be enjoyed. There's the staircase we came up.

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Most houses wouldn't have stairs to the roof. So would he have been up here?

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It's designed to be used and enjoyed, quite frankly.

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It's a place where people have walked around up here

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and discussed matters of state without being overheard.

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It's a place where he could bring his guests onto the roof

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and look out over his estate and say, "Look what I've become now."

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-A little bit of showing off but a bit of secrecy in there as well?

-Absolutely.

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It's said that, in his day, William Cecil was the most powerful non-royal alive.

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His position helped him consolidate the influence and wealth

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that enabled him to create the magnificence of Burghley House.

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I'm on my way to meet house curator, Jon Culverhouse

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to see something truly remarkable that shows,

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not only was William Cecil a powerful statesman,

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he was also a spy.

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This is a remarkable document.

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It's remarkable, it's a beautiful thing,

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but it's remarkable because at the time, in William Cecil's time,

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it was a working document.

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This was his atlas.

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It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. It dates from, this edition, 1561.

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I don't think I've ever seen a map from this time

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and it's just so beautifully decorated and so detailed.

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And hand-coloured, of course.

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These maps of the Continent are very accurate.

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You could pretty much find your way around now.

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OK, this is Gaul, France.

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Southern coast of England.

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The coast of France right the way down to Spain in the south.

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But, on the back of the page referring to France, is the treasurer's hand.

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And what he's doing here is recording the various ports,

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Bordeaux, Nimes.

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He's recording the ports

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and then here he's writing who is in charge of the various towns.

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He's writing about the size of the garrison of these port towns.

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Who is the man in command.

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Who is the night commander you see if you want something done. This is intelligence.

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It is intelligence, isn't it? The movers and shakers and military strength in different places.

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Intelligence gathering. This is 16th century James Bond.

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So he was involved in intelligence gathering abroad

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but also he had quite potent domestic power, didn't he?

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He was a force to be reckoned with. He was right behind the Queen.

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He and Walsingham probably just about ran this country together.

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He was involved in everything that went on.

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There was nothing that the court did, that Elizabeth did, that he didn't have a hand in.

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Including some of Elizabeth's biggest decisions she had to make?

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The very biggest.

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The biggest of which was probably the awful decision to execute her cousin.

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'And it's this that starkly illustrates William Cecil's influence over historic events.

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'When Queen Mary abdicated the Scottish throne and fled to England in 1567,

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'her cousin Queen Elizabeth granted her a safe haven.

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'But when plots and rumours began to circulate

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'that Catholic Mary was looking to usurp Protestant Elizabeth,

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'her courtiers knew that action had to be taken.

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'It was William Cecil who put before the Queen a royal warrant

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'suggesting she execute her own cousin.'

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It was a very major thing to actually get rid of Mary.

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How can we be sure today that he had such a hand in this?

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This document.

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This is the draft, in William Cecil's hand,

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of the warrant to execute Mary, Queen of Scots.

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-THE draft?

-THE draft.

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From this, he made a fair copy which was then taken to the Queen

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and she was persuaded to sign it.

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You can see it's an emotional document.

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This is his hurried hand if you like.

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And here we get a sense of just how delicate he had to be.

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He's choosing and crossing out his words carefully.

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It's written in such a way that he can persuade the Queen.

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Nobody knew her better.

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He was the man who really understood what she was all about.

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-There's a narrative here, a thought process going on on the page.

-As he does it.

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And so, when he'd put this together

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and was happy with it, he then had the fair copy drawn up

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and presented it to the Queen.

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It's one thing to gently whisper this in someone's ear.

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-It's another to commit it to writing.

-Yeah.

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Only someone very close to the Queen could do this.

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I think probably only Cecil himself.

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He was as close to her as anybody was in court.

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It's pretty commonly thought that she signed it

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with the thought that she would have time to recant

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and say, "I didn't quite mean that."

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But in fact, what happened was, the moment the ink was dry on the signature,

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Cecil has it galloped up to Fotheringhay the next day,

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where the Queen was being held, and she was executed within 24 hours.

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So that there was no time to go back

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and Elizabeth was deeply shocked and furious.

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She exiled Cecil from the court and Cecil was in disgrace for three months.

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It's an incredible privilege to be here with this actual document,

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which, to some extent, changed history.

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Yeah, the real thing is quite remarkable.

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The sense of power and everything else that was put into this document

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is there in this man's handwriting.

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I think to see it in the flesh, as it were, is a very powerful and rare privilege.

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This is England in the making.

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'Thousands of tourists come here to see the beautiful building that William Cecil created.

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'It really is a magnificent place.

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'But thanks to those documents, I also feel I now have a grasp

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'on the secret history of both the house and the man.

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'Just beyond Burghley House, lies the local town of Stamford.

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'William Cecil's wealth also helped revive

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'the fortunes of this whole community in the 1500s.

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'Jonathan Foyle stopped off there to find out more.'

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Between Burghley's gatehouse and the River Welland,

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lies the main approach into Stamford called High Street St Martin's

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and the Cecils' influence can be seen from one end to the other.

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Through a mixture of money and canny business sense, Cecil transformed

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a medieval street into one of the finest highways in Britain.

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When we talk about "high" in terms of high street and highway,

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it has since the ninth century meant a primary route.

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There are over 5,000 high streets in Britain

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and, as they were the premier routes into town,

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they became the focus of high fashion.

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By about the 1720s,

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architectural pattern books were becoming popular.

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The pattern book is a way of giving you a manual

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so you could copy the most fashionable styles from the capital and the great architects.

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Now, this sort of chunky style became the Stamford style.

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And it owes its origins to James Gibbs, the Scottish architect

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who built the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields

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by Trafalgar Square.

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And these great blocks that march around the windows and doors are called Gibbs architraves.

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Stamford, the first major town north of London, loved it.

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Balconies were all the rage in the Regency period

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when it was much more acceptable to just show off,

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so imagine the age of the stagecoach.

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Coming into town would be 40 coaches a day bringing not just mail

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but people of fashion and influence who were looking for places to lodge,

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people to spend their time with and places to spend their money.

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This was a spectator sport.

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Stamford's wealth was built on the back of these fashionable travellers.

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Inns provided a fresh change of horse and, in an age before hotels,

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a safe place to spend the night.

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Martin Smith is an expert on Stamford's coaching inns

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and one of its most famous is the George near the river end of High Street St Martin's.

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The structure of the whole building was based around this access route through,

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and this would have been open to the elements

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and horses and carriages and dung on the floor, probably.

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And we can see scrape marks on the side.

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And there's wagers actually in the early 19th century

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to come down High Street St Martin's and do a right-angled turn

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the quickest you could, through into this access route.

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So this whole building would be rumbling

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with the weight of vehicles, horses,

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from the 17th century onwards.

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As traffic increased between London and York, the George

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expanded its accommodation providing a welcome home from home.

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And here is this fantastic Georgian wing,

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which is like an actual whole Georgian street.

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It is, that is no normal-looking B&B.

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The Cecils of Burghley House were paying for this,

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so they put in the best they could to cater for the traveller.

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You'd be wrong to think High Street St Martins

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is all coaching inns and period des reses.

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At the end of the street we find what looks like a row of quaint cottages.

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But how can such lowly buildings occupy such a prime site?

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Well, they're not cottages, but almshouses.

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Almshouses are really an early form of terrace,

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more or less identical houses united behind one facade

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but they come from an older tradition, the monastic cloister

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or the college quad, only here they are not enclosed,

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they are broken open to display the charity

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and the piety of the person who paid for them to be built.

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And the builder, William Cecil.

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William Cecil's houses top and tail St Martin's.

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From the palatial Burghley which showcases how powerful he was,

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to the humble almshouses revealing his pious charity.

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By the north side of the almshouses

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there is the bridge over the River Welland,

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and here St Martin's ends and Stamford proper begins.

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Right by the stone ford from which the Anglo-Saxons drew the name,

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Stamford.

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You could say that this is the end of this leg of the great coaching route

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and the baton is handed on to the succession of communities

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who all drew from and contributed to the Great North Road.

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Back down the road at Burghley House I've come out into the 2,000 acres

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of surrounding parkland to find out about a world-class sporting event

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that is helping secure

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the estate's financial future.

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COMMENTATOR: Andrew's focus, unmistakable.

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To come back and jump straight into water,

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Armada is answering all of the questions with absolute ease.

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Burghley Horse trials is one of the main events in the equestrian calendar.

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It's one of only three worldwide events with a four-star rating,

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and the course here at Burghley is known to be very technical,

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requiring skill and endurance from both horse and rider.

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And its four-star rating means

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it ranks as the most challenging level for an equestrian event.

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'Just that one unfortunate fall.'

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This year the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are celebrating their 50th birthday,

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and who better to show me what goes into staging the event

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than clerk of the course, Philip Herbert.

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Now I'm not exactly au fait with all things equestrian

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so what happens here in a horse trial over three days?

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This is what is called a three-day event.

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-Which strangely enough takes place over four days.

-Oh, OK.

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And traditionally the three days have the three different tests.

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The first day is dressage, the second day is for cross country,

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and the third day is for showjumping.

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Because we have more entries these days than there were originally,

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it takes two days to do all the dressage,

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so that takes place on Thursday and Friday,

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and then Saturday is the big day which is when my side of things

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comes into play which is the cross country.

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Burghley held the first World Championships in 1966

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and has staged more international championships than any other venue.

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It's down to staff like Philip and the course designers

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to make sure it retains its prestige status.

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So he's taking me for a closer look at one of the jumps

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the cross-country course is famous for.

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The Leaf Pit.

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'And head now towards the Leaf Pit.'

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'He can attack this, which he does.'

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The log we're walking up to here is actually the alternative,

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the easy alternative, of the obstacle.

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The actual question is jumping down the step over here.

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So horses are coming this way.

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From that direction.

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And they come to the edge of the step here,

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and they have to jump off that,

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and then there will be another obstacle at the bottom

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which isn't there at the moment, which they will jump next.

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That's quite a leap.

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I wouldn't be that happy jumping off it right now with no horse,

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but sitting a lot higher, it is quite intimidating, isn't it?

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It is quite spectacular, yes.

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'Probably route one.

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'That unique style of riding.'

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How dangerous is this?

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There is some danger in the sport, isn't there? That is the challenge.

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When you get on a horse and you ride it at over 20 mph

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up to solid obstacles, inevitably there is some danger there,

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but we manage the danger in the best possible way we can,

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by the way the profiles of the fences are designed,

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and we also have safety systems we incorporate into some of the fences.

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And what's the challenge here, in terms of what skills it brings out of the rider,

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what are you looking for in this kind of obstacle?

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The three-day event is the all-round test for a horse

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and they have to do the dressage first which is the obedience test

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and they do certain movements,

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and then they have to be bold and brave and agile

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to do the cross country,

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then they have to come back on the third day,

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or the fourth day as it is now,

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and do the showjumping

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which shows that they are still fit and sound and agile enough

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to jump the knock-down fences,

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so it covers the whole range of equestrian skills.

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And when you design this, do you jump on a horse

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and test out the course once you've put it all up?

0:19:380:19:41

No, the course is never tested by anyone beforehand.

0:19:410:19:45

The first rider is the tester of it.

0:19:450:19:47

I find that extraordinary.

0:19:470:19:48

So how do you know if you have designed it so that it is rideable?

0:19:480:19:51

The course designer, Captain Mark Phillips, who does the job now

0:19:510:19:55

is an extremely experienced horseman

0:19:550:19:57

and he is spending his whole life looking at horses jumping obstacles,

0:19:570:20:00

and he has a very good idea in his mind of exactly what a horse can and can't do.

0:20:000:20:04

And then we have a whole panel of inspectors that come round

0:20:040:20:07

and make sure it complies with the rules, and it is all safe and suitable.

0:20:070:20:11

This is one of the leading events in the world,

0:20:110:20:14

it is run at the top level of competition,

0:20:140:20:16

and in fact it is one of the few events

0:20:160:20:18

that has never been cancelled or abandoned,

0:20:180:20:21

it's run every single year since 1961.

0:20:210:20:23

Crikey, some British determination in there, isn't there?

0:20:230:20:27

Even on foot you get a sense of just how tough this course is going to be.

0:20:270:20:31

When Adam Henson travelled to these parts,

0:20:310:20:35

he sampled a much more sedate use of the Lincolnshire countryside.

0:20:350:20:38

This big sky county makes it perfect for bird-watching.

0:20:380:20:42

It also boasts some of the best soil in the country, ideal for growing crops.

0:20:420:20:47

I'm in Deeping St Nicholas

0:20:490:20:51

to meet a farmer who's passionate about this landscape

0:20:510:20:54

and the birdlife that thrives here.

0:20:540:20:56

He has an MBE for a lifetime's dedication to farming and conservation,

0:20:560:21:00

and last year he was the Countryside Farmer of the Year.

0:21:000:21:03

And to meet him, you have to be up very early.

0:21:030:21:07

Yes?

0:21:140:21:15

Hello, Nicholas.

0:21:150:21:16

-Great to see you.

-Hello.

0:21:160:21:20

Now tell me, how long have you been watching birds?

0:21:200:21:23

Well, since I was about this high, I suppose.

0:21:230:21:26

In fact, I fell out my first tree when I was nine.

0:21:260:21:29

I know we haven't got many trees around here,

0:21:290:21:31

and I was in bathing trunks.

0:21:310:21:33

And I fell into a bed of nettles.

0:21:330:21:34

Goodness me! And it didn't put you off?

0:21:340:21:37

No!

0:21:370:21:39

You've been looking after them for a long time, how did that get started?

0:21:390:21:43

I suppose in 1982 I wanted to know what birds were breeding on my farm

0:21:430:21:47

and so I came down the farm here with a map

0:21:470:21:51

and a pen and a pair of binoculars and recorded what I saw and heard.

0:21:510:21:54

By doing that I know what's declining,

0:21:540:21:57

and through my surveys on my farms and other people's farms,

0:21:570:22:03

I can see what is working and what isn't working,

0:22:030:22:05

so then I do my conservation measures

0:22:050:22:08

to fit things that are not doing very well.

0:22:080:22:10

Amazing. I'd love to have a look round.

0:22:100:22:12

Yes, OK, let's go.

0:22:120:22:14

Nicholas has monitored the birds on his farm for 30 years

0:22:140:22:19

and he's found that numbers have been falling steadily.

0:22:190:22:22

Why do you think that farmland birds have decreased?

0:22:220:22:26

Well, quite simply we've been farming too well.

0:22:260:22:28

We've got a good armoury of weedkillers,

0:22:280:22:31

so now in a field of wheat there needn't be any weeds

0:22:310:22:34

if the farmer does his job properly,

0:22:340:22:36

and the insects live on the weeds,

0:22:360:22:39

the birds need the insects to feed their young,

0:22:390:22:43

and when you have got two large fields of wheat,

0:22:430:22:45

or even three large fields of wheat, next to one another,

0:22:450:22:48

with no weeds in,

0:22:480:22:50

where will birds find the insects to feed their young?

0:22:500:22:52

On your farm you have done a lot to change that.

0:22:520:22:55

Yes, we have.

0:22:550:22:56

We have planted hedges, we have widened dykes into ponds,

0:22:560:23:01

we've put nest boxes up,

0:23:010:23:03

put islands in these ponds we've dug,

0:23:030:23:05

and we've also got these cultivated margins.

0:23:050:23:09

They're probably the biggest asset of all.

0:23:090:23:11

A lot of farmers would find it probably quite onerous

0:23:110:23:15

and many would claim they wouldn't have the time

0:23:150:23:17

to be able to put something back and get the birds here again.

0:23:170:23:20

Well, where there's a will, there's a way.

0:23:200:23:22

But tragically though, where there isn't a will,

0:23:220:23:25

there very often isn't a way.

0:23:250:23:27

But it's not too difficult.

0:23:270:23:29

There are prescriptions for farmers to get paid for doing these things,

0:23:290:23:33

and we are guardians of the countryside,

0:23:330:23:36

and we should acknowledge that,

0:23:360:23:37

and get on and try and bring farmland birds back.

0:23:370:23:40

To monitor the birds on his farm,

0:23:440:23:46

Nicholas keeps an eye on any newborn chicks.

0:23:460:23:48

So what are you doing here then, Nicholas?

0:23:480:23:50

I am putting a ring on these tree sparrow legs.

0:23:500:23:55

I've been monitoring the nest boxes,

0:23:550:23:57

we have put up 20 nest boxes for tree sparrows

0:23:570:24:00

and nearly all of them have been taken up.

0:24:000:24:03

We can follow their progress?

0:24:030:24:05

I wouldn't say follow their progress,

0:24:050:24:07

but there is a chance that one of these might be found somewhere.

0:24:070:24:10

Each ring has a different number on, and it has an address on it.

0:24:100:24:14

We know where it started life,

0:24:140:24:16

and when it's found it could be we know where it finishes its life.

0:24:160:24:21

You know how successful they have been, how long they have lived,

0:24:210:24:24

-how far they have gone.

-That's right.

0:24:240:24:26

I've got three nest boxes

0:24:260:24:27

where they are actually having three broods this year.

0:24:270:24:31

So there is obviously plenty of food around,

0:24:310:24:34

and the sort of ponds that I've dug and the hedges I've planted

0:24:340:24:38

are actually working.

0:24:380:24:40

Nicholas grows organic, arable crops on this farm and like most farmers

0:24:420:24:46

he is always on the lookout to diversify.

0:24:460:24:49

By chance, he discovered a way of combining his love of birds and making his land work.

0:24:490:24:54

Now with all your passion for farm birds,

0:24:540:24:56

you're now growing this great big field of sunflowers, just for birdseed.

0:24:560:25:00

How did the idea come about?

0:25:000:25:01

We started feeding the birds in the winter in our farmyards.

0:25:010:25:06

And we had such a lot of birds,

0:25:060:25:08

800 buntings and finches at any one time,

0:25:080:25:11

it was a spectacle, so we had an open day.

0:25:110:25:15

And at that open day, two or three people said,

0:25:150:25:18

"Can you sell me any bird food?

0:25:180:25:20

"You must be feeding them with some good stuff."

0:25:200:25:23

But the truth was, we weren't.

0:25:230:25:25

But, you know, a few years later we started growing sunflowers

0:25:250:25:29

because they were far more nutritious than the rape

0:25:290:25:32

that we were selling then.

0:25:320:25:34

And here we are today.

0:25:340:25:36

So how many acres in total, just for the birds?

0:25:360:25:38

400.

0:25:380:25:39

Goodness me!

0:25:390:25:41

Making a bit of money?

0:25:410:25:43

Well, I'm not a very good accountant,

0:25:430:25:46

but we are keeping our heads above water, anyway.

0:25:460:25:48

Sounds like something I should do back home!

0:25:480:25:50

Nicolas is being modest.

0:25:510:25:53

He's now the biggest bird seed grower in the UK,

0:25:530:25:56

and sells 1,500 tonnes of it a year.

0:25:560:25:58

Alongside the sunflower seed he also grows millet, maize,

0:25:580:26:02

and wheat, to name a few.

0:26:020:26:03

After the seed is harvested,

0:26:030:26:05

it is cleaned and separated from stalks,

0:26:050:26:08

then it all gets mixed up into different bird recipes.

0:26:080:26:11

Then if flies off the shelves to homes across the country.

0:26:110:26:14

On my travels through South Lincolnshire,

0:26:220:26:24

I have left Burghley House behind me

0:26:240:26:27

and I am travelling northeast to the village of Moulton.

0:26:270:26:30

Wow!

0:26:350:26:36

What an incredible building.

0:26:360:26:38

This is Moulton windmill.

0:26:380:26:40

It was built in 1822.

0:26:400:26:42

Unfortunately it has stood idle for the last 15 years,

0:26:420:26:45

but I hear that's about to change.

0:26:450:26:48

Janet, how are you?

0:26:520:26:53

-Very well, thank you.

-Good. Very busy up here, what is going on?

0:26:530:26:56

It is busy.

0:26:560:26:57

We are finishing off the last of the shutters ready for the sails.

0:26:570:27:00

Getting the shutters ready for the sails. This is what?

0:27:000:27:03

A shutter?

0:27:030:27:05

This is a shutter. This is number 208.

0:27:050:27:08

So the very last one that I am stitching now.

0:27:080:27:11

And where is this, pardon my windmill ignorance,

0:27:110:27:15

where is this going to go?

0:27:150:27:16

This sits on the sail stock,

0:27:160:27:17

so basically you have a piece of wood that sits in the middle

0:27:170:27:20

with a shutter either side,

0:27:200:27:22

and this allows us to actually catch the wind to push the sails round.

0:27:220:27:26

So it works a bit like a Venetian blind.

0:27:260:27:28

Once this shutter's stitched, it is coated with two coats

0:27:280:27:32

of this white paint, and that just seals the shutter then,

0:27:320:27:35

and makes it weatherproof.

0:27:350:27:38

The other bit it does is it makes that canvas taut.

0:27:380:27:40

As you can see on this at the minute, it is a bit baggy.

0:27:400:27:43

That just tightens it all up so it shrinks the canvas.

0:27:430:27:46

Very good. And a chain gang in operation behind us moving them all.

0:27:460:27:50

This is a lot of work. You have been going for how long now?

0:27:500:27:53

We started the project in 1998,

0:27:530:27:55

and the majority of the group involved in the project

0:27:550:27:58

-were here back in those early days.

-Goodness.

0:27:580:28:01

I think it's just the sense of community we get from this building,

0:28:010:28:04

it really is special. It gets under your skin.

0:28:040:28:06

You don't have to be a geographer to look across and see this part

0:28:140:28:18

of Lincolnshire is very flat. It's ideal for these buildings.

0:28:180:28:21

Yes, and in this area alone,

0:28:210:28:24

there were over 300 windmills throughout Lincolnshire.

0:28:240:28:27

In this parish there were 12 working windmills and now we're down to one.

0:28:270:28:33

And if we don't save those buildings, where has our identity gone?

0:28:330:28:36

When these go up, how big is this windmill going to be?

0:28:380:28:43

We are the biggest, or we will be the biggest,

0:28:430:28:45

so as soon as the sails go on

0:28:450:28:47

we'll ask the Guinness Book of Records to get that listing correct.

0:28:470:28:50

At the minute, that goes to Maud Foster in Boston.

0:28:500:28:53

I'm sorry, we are going to have that title.

0:28:530:28:55

-A bit of windmill competition.

-There is, yes.

0:28:550:28:58

The crowning glory will be when those sails go on,

0:28:580:29:00

and there might be an odd tear and a little bit of a shake in the voice.

0:29:000:29:04

Definitely a glass of champagne.

0:29:040:29:06

Despite losing its sails in a storm in 1822,

0:29:070:29:10

this mill was working until just 15 years ago.

0:29:100:29:14

And to find out what this windmill was like in its prime,

0:29:150:29:18

I'm heading down to meet the last miller of Moulton,

0:29:180:29:21

John Biggadike.

0:29:210:29:23

This building lost its sails over 100 years ago.

0:29:230:29:26

-That's right.

-How have people been milling here ever since?

0:29:260:29:29

At the time it was let to another flour miller, Mr Tindall,

0:29:290:29:34

and he was a very enterprising miller,

0:29:340:29:37

and he bought the mill at Holbeach and moved there eventually.

0:29:370:29:40

But at that time he brought in a steam engine.

0:29:400:29:44

Obviously with engine power you can mill every day.

0:29:440:29:48

When you are waiting on the sails, you wait for the wind to blow.

0:29:490:29:53

And also, looking around, there are some peculiar things.

0:29:530:29:57

What would this, this looks like a lethal acorn,

0:29:570:30:00

but what actually is it?

0:30:000:30:02

I think it is part and parcel from the old windmill days,

0:30:020:30:06

to hang on the sails, on the chains behind the sails.

0:30:060:30:09

So that would open up or close up the shutters on the sails?

0:30:090:30:12

They will require the same thing or some newer ones

0:30:120:30:15

when they get the restoration.

0:30:150:30:17

How do you feel about the local people here, the community,

0:30:240:30:28

taking this on, it restoring it and putting sails on?

0:30:280:30:30

It's the best thing that could ever happen to it.

0:30:300:30:33

In all my career I wanted to see it, hopefully, preserved.

0:30:330:30:38

If any mill in this country is worth preserving, it is this one,

0:30:380:30:42

because it is the biggest and tallest that you come across.

0:30:420:30:46

I'm not saying that cos it was mine.

0:30:460:30:48

Because I've been in a good many, and that is a fact.

0:30:480:30:51

It really is a Rolls-Royce of a mill,

0:30:510:30:53

there's not another one like it.

0:30:530:30:56

Without doubt this is an incredibly unique place.

0:30:590:31:03

I love all the original features, the machine parts,

0:31:030:31:06

there's 100-year-old graffiti from some of the millers here,

0:31:060:31:09

and this great big solid, towering building.

0:31:090:31:13

But what is so important is that once this place

0:31:130:31:16

was at the centre of local food production,

0:31:160:31:19

and now thanks to everyone's efforts here

0:31:190:31:22

it is once again a community space,

0:31:220:31:24

it is once again at the heart and soul of Moulton.

0:31:240:31:28

James Wong learnt all about

0:31:310:31:33

another of the region's traditional industries, farming.

0:31:330:31:37

Rather than plucking fruit or pulling up veg,

0:31:370:31:39

he was tiptoeing through the tulips.

0:31:390:31:42

I'm really lucky to see a field like this in the UK nowadays.

0:31:420:31:46

It is becoming an increasingly rare sight.

0:31:460:31:50

But just 50 years ago flower fields

0:31:500:31:52

were a really common part of the landscape in these parts.

0:31:520:31:56

The family of farmers responsible for this dazzling display

0:31:560:32:00

have been growing for the cut flower market since the 1950s.

0:32:000:32:04

They remember when their nursery here

0:32:040:32:07

alongside the flat plains of Lincolnshire

0:32:070:32:09

was surrounded by flower farms.

0:32:090:32:11

It wasn't that many years ago

0:32:110:32:13

when there used to be literally coach trips round here.

0:32:130:32:15

People would come from all over the country, have an evening

0:32:150:32:18

in the area and have the coach trip round the bulb fields.

0:32:180:32:21

Daffodils, tulips, whatever.

0:32:210:32:24

-No need for a flight to Amsterdam.

-No.

0:32:240:32:26

In fact, back in the '50s and '60s,

0:32:270:32:30

this was a vibrant economy of flower growers.

0:32:300:32:33

NEWSREADER: 'These are the tulip fields of South Lincolnshire.

0:32:330:32:36

'Some of the blooms are sold as cut flowers

0:32:360:32:39

'but most of them are grown to produce bulbs.'

0:32:390:32:41

Most of these farms are gone

0:32:410:32:43

and it is hard for businesses like this

0:32:430:32:45

to compete with Dutch companies.

0:32:450:32:46

They've cornered the market in tulips, thanks to economies of scale.

0:32:460:32:51

The situation is,

0:32:510:32:52

we can have a lorry load of flowers here and nobody to buy them.

0:32:520:32:55

We'll send them to Holland

0:32:550:32:57

and they will be bought by the same English companies

0:32:570:33:00

who wouldn't buy them in this country, perhaps.

0:33:000:33:02

So it literally has to go to Holland just to get on the auction system.

0:33:020:33:06

-It is about getting into the supply chain.

-Yes.

0:33:060:33:09

It almost needs the Dutch seal of approval, if you like.

0:33:090:33:12

Which is crackers really, because we are British.

0:33:120:33:16

Ironically though, right now the interest in British flowers is rising.

0:33:160:33:20

Supermarkets like Marks and Spencer

0:33:200:33:22

make a point of labelling their flowers British.

0:33:220:33:26

Peter Ireland, who manages M&S flower buyers,

0:33:260:33:29

says there is a real demand for blooms

0:33:290:33:31

that haven't travelled thousands of miles.

0:33:310:33:34

Peter, what does the average shopper think about British-grown flowers?

0:33:340:33:38

Our customers think they are fantastic.

0:33:380:33:40

We sell over 100 million flowers to our customers.

0:33:400:33:44

I think British flowers have got such a lot going for them.

0:33:440:33:47

We can all remember that great heritage of our grandad's garden.

0:33:470:33:51

I remember him making me cut his dahlias for him all those years ago.

0:33:510:33:55

And I think that resonates with shoppers.

0:33:550:33:58

You can get British flowers all through the year.

0:33:580:34:01

It is too early to predict a return to past glories.

0:34:010:34:04

But Mark's family business is certainly busy.

0:34:040:34:07

And he set me a challenge to see if I can sell his flowers

0:34:070:34:11

at a local auction for a profit.

0:34:110:34:14

I just hope the buyers there agree with the man from M&S

0:34:140:34:17

and are happy to pay a good price for my British blooms.

0:34:170:34:20

Wish me luck.

0:34:200:34:22

So, Mark, how do we do this?

0:34:240:34:26

Do we go for the biggest, most developed ones, presumably?

0:34:260:34:29

What you want to look for is the most open ones.

0:34:290:34:31

Just give them a little wiggle, they gently ease up.

0:34:310:34:34

There is no soil in this.

0:34:340:34:36

This is growing hydroponically, just in water?

0:34:360:34:38

Yes, it is a lot easier to work.

0:34:380:34:40

Less mess, we end up with a lot cleaner product.

0:34:400:34:43

Also, if you happen to pick the wrong one,

0:34:430:34:45

all you have got to do is drop it back,

0:34:450:34:46

it falls back on the spikes, you can carry on.

0:34:460:34:49

I am not sure if I am as quick as those other guys.

0:34:490:34:51

I mean, I think we'll have to give you a bit of training.

0:34:510:34:55

I don't think I'd earn the hourly rate, I can tell you that.

0:34:550:34:58

So how much is a bunch like this worth?

0:35:040:35:06

13p a stem, probably £5 or £6 worth.

0:35:060:35:08

That is not bad at all.

0:35:080:35:09

-But, we have got to finish the job yet.

-Oh, right.

0:35:090:35:12

Come on, we've got to get them packed.

0:35:120:35:14

And so to the production line.

0:35:140:35:17

They produce 15 million tulips so there is no time to hang about.

0:35:170:35:21

What does this bit of kit do?

0:35:210:35:23

Just chop off the bulbs?

0:35:230:35:24

-This takes the bulb off at the bottom.

-OK.

0:35:240:35:26

-And what we have got to do is lay them on here neatly.

-OK.

0:35:260:35:29

And level.

0:35:290:35:30

Come on! Quick! Come on!

0:35:300:35:33

They all get tangled up, though.

0:35:330:35:35

I know, that's part of the battle.

0:35:350:35:37

You've lopped the bulb off,

0:35:400:35:41

now just grab any old pile and stick them into bunches?

0:35:410:35:44

Now we make sure we have the same lengths

0:35:440:35:46

and they have to be the same stage of flower.

0:35:460:35:49

Like a puzzle, match them?

0:35:490:35:50

You have to match them and count them at the same time.

0:35:500:35:53

That's a lot harder than I imagined.

0:35:530:35:56

Now they are picked, we need to make sure they get to market

0:35:590:36:03

and ultimately the customer in prime condition.

0:36:030:36:06

So we wrap them in the white paper to keep the stems straight

0:36:060:36:11

and to stop them growing and bending,

0:36:110:36:13

because they do grow once they are in water.

0:36:130:36:15

Oh, really? Even once they are cut?

0:36:150:36:16

They can grow two to three inches once they are in water.

0:36:160:36:20

So six bunches in one batch.

0:36:200:36:23

Two, three, four, five, six.

0:36:230:36:29

And just roll it up like an ice-cream cone?

0:36:290:36:31

There we are.

0:36:340:36:36

As I head for the auction, I feel strangely proud

0:36:360:36:39

of my British blooms.

0:36:390:36:40

But will they sell?

0:36:400:36:42

This local auction is doing well,

0:36:440:36:47

but once auctions like this would have sold many more blooms.

0:36:470:36:51

Now they are the preserve of independent florists and market traders.

0:36:510:36:54

These guys are in search of a bargain

0:36:540:36:57

so it'll be tough to persuade them to pay the price I'm looking for.

0:36:570:37:00

The time has come, and now I am here it is really quite intimidating.

0:37:010:37:05

AUCTIONEER TALKS QUICKLY

0:37:050:37:07

How does this work? I don't see anyone bidding.

0:37:110:37:13

I don't see anyone waving anything in the air.

0:37:130:37:16

This fellow has just had a bid.

0:37:160:37:18

He raises his face, the auctioneer gets used to how they are bidding.

0:37:180:37:23

Some people wave like mad.

0:37:230:37:24

I expected them to wave something in the air.

0:37:240:37:27

It's not like a traditional auction

0:37:270:37:28

where they have card numbers. Very subtle.

0:37:280:37:30

This is another Narcissi.

0:37:300:37:33

The Narcissi sell easily,

0:37:330:37:37

but then I realise some rival tulips have sold.

0:37:370:37:39

How much did these tulips go far?

0:37:390:37:41

They went for about 50p.

0:37:410:37:43

50p for five?

0:37:430:37:45

50p for five benches?

0:37:450:37:46

So 10p each.

0:37:460:37:47

10p a stem.

0:37:470:37:49

Maybe it's going to be tough to hit my 13p a stem target after all.

0:37:490:37:53

That's what Mark gets per stem.

0:37:530:37:55

But how will I do?

0:37:550:37:57

Well, it is my turn next.

0:37:570:37:59

224, tulips.

0:37:590:38:01

Everything's happening so quickly.

0:38:010:38:04

A pound a go,

0:38:040:38:05

pound for 10?

0:38:050:38:07

Bid £1.20, £1.30.

0:38:070:38:10

£1.30 for 10.

0:38:100:38:13

That's 13p each! Bargain.

0:38:130:38:16

Happy with that?

0:38:160:38:17

That's exactly what he said he would get. Fantastic.

0:38:170:38:20

I had great fun at the auction.

0:38:220:38:24

Wouldn't it be nice to think that one day,

0:38:240:38:26

if current trends continue,

0:38:260:38:28

Britain's tulip fields might be on the tourist map once more?

0:38:280:38:32

James Wong and the tulips of Lincolnshire.

0:38:330:38:37

My travels have brought me west on a horticultural mission of my own,

0:38:370:38:40

to Easton Walled Gardens.

0:38:400:38:43

I'm here to meet Lady Ursula Cholmeley,

0:38:430:38:46

whose green fingers and hard graft

0:38:460:38:48

have brought this once derelict landscape back to life.

0:38:480:38:51

How big is the area we are dealing with?

0:38:510:38:54

We're dealing with 12 acres.

0:38:540:38:56

This is coming into view. This is fantastic.

0:38:560:38:58

What a landscape.

0:38:580:39:00

It is a fantastic landscape. It is quite amazing.

0:39:000:39:02

People can't quite believe it

0:39:020:39:04

-when they come to the top here and look out.

-Beautiful.

0:39:040:39:07

What would it have been like just 10 years ago here?

0:39:090:39:12

10 years ago we couldn't have been able to get visitors to this site,

0:39:120:39:15

it was just covered with trees.

0:39:150:39:17

Very, very different.

0:39:170:39:18

For 450 years these gardens were constantly cultivated,

0:39:220:39:27

but they were abandoned during the Second World War.

0:39:270:39:31

When Lady Cholmeley and her family moved back here in 2001,

0:39:310:39:35

this is the sight that greeted them.

0:39:350:39:37

50 years of neglect had taken its toll.

0:39:400:39:43

So when you got back here, what sort of sight greeted you,

0:39:440:39:48

what was this place like?

0:39:480:39:50

I thing lost garden would be a polite way of describing it.

0:39:500:39:53

It was just covered. Everything behind us

0:39:530:39:55

was just covered in trees, mostly sycamores, elder, brambles.

0:39:550:39:59

Nature had completely taken over.

0:39:590:40:02

This bridge had trees growing out of it. We took the whole thing apart.

0:40:020:40:06

This was the starting point.

0:40:060:40:07

This was where you began.

0:40:070:40:08

Because at least it was finite.

0:40:080:40:10

You couldn't make a list, there were so many things to do.

0:40:100:40:13

So we said let's get the bridge

0:40:130:40:15

so we can actually see it clear of trees,

0:40:150:40:17

clear of the turf that had grown on it,

0:40:170:40:19

so this was our starting point.

0:40:190:40:21

This is where you got going.

0:40:210:40:22

The gardens here obviously beautiful and it is a big estate.

0:40:260:40:29

It doesn't quite seem to fit the size of the house.

0:40:290:40:33

It feels like something is missing, is that true?

0:40:330:40:36

What you can see now is a tiny proportion

0:40:360:40:38

of what the house that was there was.

0:40:380:40:41

In fact, there was a great big manor house there

0:40:410:40:44

until 1951 when the house was demolished.

0:40:440:40:48

Crikey! So what was the house like, what was the scale of it?

0:40:480:40:52

A very big country house,

0:40:520:40:53

had a lot of glass round the south and west fronts

0:40:530:40:56

so the gardens were very important to it cos you could look out from it.

0:40:560:40:59

Sadly, its future from the beginning of the 20th century was always in jeopardy,

0:40:590:41:05

and during the Second World War, it was used by the Army.

0:41:050:41:08

They used to let grenades off in the greenhouses,

0:41:080:41:11

rounds in the house. And it was really in such a terrible state

0:41:110:41:14

by 1951 that my husband's grandfather made the heartbreaking decision

0:41:140:41:21

-to pull his house down.

-Wow.

0:41:210:41:23

When you say grenades in the greenhouse,

0:41:230:41:25

it sounds like they were training. But they were just stationed here?

0:41:250:41:28

-Like a barracks.

-Yes, the officers were across the other side of the A1,

0:41:280:41:33

and the lads were here. And, you know, they had some wild nights.

0:41:330:41:37

Sadly, the house is lost for ever.

0:41:390:41:42

But years of hard work and dedication mean the gardens

0:41:420:41:45

have been brought back to life and are open for anyone to enjoy.

0:41:450:41:49

And now the Cholmeley family are back tending this site,

0:41:490:41:52

they are continuing 14 generations of family tradition.

0:41:520:41:56

Here, we've got the early sweet peas, very early this year

0:41:580:42:01

because of the very warm weather we've had this spring.

0:42:010:42:05

-These are all sweet peas?

-Yes, we grow 60 varieties here.

0:42:050:42:10

60! Did you have to recreate this garden,

0:42:100:42:13

or was it there to be uncovered when you were hacking back the foliage?

0:42:130:42:17

I think we worked from a set of black-and-white photos

0:42:170:42:22

from about 100 years ago, so we had some idea of what was under here.

0:42:220:42:27

And we found broken-down walls and thought,

0:42:270:42:29

they obviously need rebuilding at some stage.

0:42:290:42:32

We're 10 years down the line now.

0:42:320:42:34

And although I had quite a plan as to how it would be,

0:42:340:42:37

you never imagine you can pull it off and it is fantastic

0:42:370:42:41

to come and say, "Yes, this is not just a site we're working on now, it's a garden."

0:42:410:42:45

And a legacy, now, a garden that will hopefully stay this way

0:42:450:42:48

-for a long time to come.

-I hope so.

0:42:480:42:50

But for me today,

0:42:520:42:54

it's just been lovely to stroll around these grounds.

0:42:540:42:57

However, Juliet Morris's visit to the surrounding countryside

0:42:570:43:01

was a slightly less serene experience.

0:43:010:43:04

This is the village of Haxey where for 364 days of the year,

0:43:070:43:10

you can enjoy a relatively peaceful stroll through the streets.

0:43:100:43:14

But for one day, forget it. Because the whole of the village

0:43:140:43:17

is turned into one large playing field

0:43:170:43:19

for a game that's known here as the Haxey Hood.

0:43:190:43:22

The story goes that Lady de Mowbray, the wife of the local landowner,

0:43:240:43:28

was riding over the hills towards nearby Westwoodside

0:43:280:43:30

when her silk riding hood was blown away by the wind.

0:43:300:43:34

Much to her amusement, the local farm hands competed so vigorously to save it for her,

0:43:340:43:39

that she donated 13 acres of land

0:43:390:43:41

so that the event could be re-enacted every year.

0:43:410:43:45

Today, the Haxey Hood is as popular as ever among both players and spectators.

0:43:460:43:50

Hundreds of people take part and get into the "sway",

0:43:500:43:53

which is a kind of rugby-style scrap.

0:43:530:43:56

Anyone can join in as there are no official teams.

0:43:570:44:00

The objective is to get the hood to one of four pubs,

0:44:000:44:03

so everyone pushes towards their favoured watering hole.

0:44:030:44:07

The hood, which today is made of a leather tube,

0:44:070:44:10

can't be thrown or run with, so the game can take hours.

0:44:100:44:13

The re-enactment all starts fairly early.

0:44:130:44:16

Three pubs in Haxey itself and one in Westwoodside, half-a-mile away,

0:44:160:44:20

are the possible destinations for the hood.

0:44:200:44:23

And like all good sportsmen,

0:44:230:44:25

the players and the officials, the ones in red called Boggins,

0:44:250:44:28

begin the day walking the pitch, shall we say.

0:44:280:44:30

The modern day hood is on display,

0:44:300:44:33

but remains in the hands of the Boggins for now.

0:44:330:44:37

# And to sew and to reap and to mow... #

0:44:370:44:39

Three traditional songs are sung in each of the four pubs.

0:44:390:44:43

# Born to be a farmer's boy. #

0:44:430:44:49

The Fool of the Hood is painted up to look like the bruised and bloodied farm hand

0:44:510:44:55

who tumbled over the fields after Lady de Mowbray's hat.

0:44:550:44:58

Quite a lot of these people had their first pint

0:45:010:45:04

with their fry-up at 10:30am this morning.

0:45:040:45:06

Right now, it's 1:30pm, there are still another couple of pubs to go to,

0:45:060:45:10

the thing doesn't start until 3:30pm.

0:45:100:45:12

So I'm sticking with orange juice. I've got to pace myself.

0:45:120:45:16

I've also got to try and get to the bar.

0:45:160:45:19

It's what we do every year, a tradition, the end of Christmas and New Year.

0:45:190:45:23

When the sway goes down,

0:45:230:45:25

you wonder if you're going to get out alive.

0:45:250:45:28

That's it. Isn't it? It is.

0:45:280:45:30

-It's horrible. But it's fantastic.

-Sweaty bodies, loads of steam.

0:45:300:45:33

Hmm, can't wait! After the serious business of trying out all the pubs, the fun begins.

0:45:330:45:39

It's off to the fields for the main event,

0:45:390:45:41

and the game, well, it just begins.

0:45:410:45:44

Somewhere in the middle of all this mayhem is the hood.

0:45:440:45:47

I can't actually tell you which way it's going at the moment.

0:45:470:45:50

As somebody who's up for giving most things a go, quite honestly,

0:45:500:45:53

I am so happy not to be face down in the mud in the middle of all that.

0:45:530:45:57

I am staying on the sidelines!

0:45:570:46:00

The Boggins try to retain as much order as possible, keeping players

0:46:080:46:12

and the huge crowd in step.

0:46:120:46:14

One trainer for sale!

0:46:140:46:18

Our father was the lord, so we were brought up with it.

0:46:180:46:21

-Fantastic. You've never taken part, though?

-No, we're not allowed to.

0:46:210:46:25

Females aren't allowed to take part.

0:46:250:46:28

-Would you like to have ever had a go?

-Yes!

0:46:280:46:31

We would when we was young, yes.

0:46:310:46:33

Darkness descends, but no-one leaves the sway without a fight.

0:46:370:46:41

Since the game started an hour and a half or so ago,

0:46:480:46:51

the sway has gradually been moving uphill

0:46:510:46:53

towards the village of Westwoodside.

0:46:530:46:56

There's one pub in Westwoodside, and three that way in Haxey.

0:46:560:47:00

So as you can imagine, Westwoodside is often outnumbered.

0:47:000:47:03

But right now, the signs are looking very good.

0:47:030:47:07

Now, you are the Lord of the Hood. What does that mean?

0:47:110:47:15

I'm the chief referee,

0:47:150:47:17

try and keep some composure amongst the idiots in the middle.

0:47:170:47:21

Do you miss actually getting involved in it?

0:47:210:47:24

I used to do, yes, when I first took over I did.

0:47:240:47:26

But I don't now. I'm quite happy just being on the sidelines.

0:47:260:47:30

It's a young man's game.

0:47:300:47:31

It does look pretty rough. It must hurt, doesn't it?

0:47:310:47:35

Yeah, you'll hurt for two or three weeks after!

0:47:350:47:37

Why has it got such a special significance, both in Haxey

0:47:370:47:42

and in everybody's hearts and minds here?

0:47:420:47:45

I think because there's nothing else really like it. Everything has been sanitised.

0:47:450:47:49

In fact, if the HSC got their hands on it, I don't think it would happen!

0:47:490:47:53

Well, it looks like the hood is on its way to Westwoodside.

0:48:030:48:08

Westwoodside were the underdogs, having only one pub.

0:48:080:48:12

But right now, it's on the home straight.

0:48:120:48:14

The people of Westwoodside gather to add their support

0:48:140:48:19

to the last few yards of the hood's journey.

0:48:190:48:22

When the landlord reaches out to claim the hood...

0:48:230:48:27

-CHEERING

-..the game's over, and the pub and its regulars

0:48:270:48:30

will keep the hood until the rematch next year.

0:48:300:48:33

There is only one word to describe today - mad.

0:48:400:48:43

I dread to think how a lot of these people are going to wake up feeling tomorrow morning.

0:48:430:48:47

However, the game may have ended, but the party has just started.

0:48:470:48:51

I think now is the time to get in on the action.

0:48:510:48:54

Juliet Morris braving the fray of the Haxey Hood.

0:48:560:49:00

I'm on the last leg of my Lincolnshire journey,

0:49:000:49:02

going full circle back to where I started

0:49:020:49:05

near Stamford in the grounds of Burghley House.

0:49:050:49:08

There, I've been offered the chance to get hands-on

0:49:080:49:11

with a creature of the deep that's been discovered lurking in the lake.

0:49:110:49:15

But first, the Country Tracks weather for the week ahead.

0:49:150:49:18

.

0:51:500:51:57

I'm on a journey beneath the big skies of South Lincolnshire.

0:52:060:52:10

I started at Burghley House on the outskirts of Stamford.

0:52:100:52:13

Then I headed northeast to Moulton

0:52:130:52:15

and a building that's set to reclaim its place

0:52:150:52:18

as Britain's tallest windmill.

0:52:180:52:20

Travelling to Easton, I saw how its famous walled gardens

0:52:200:52:23

had been brought back from the dead.

0:52:230:52:26

Now finally, I'm coming full circle to Burghley House,

0:52:260:52:29

where the Environment Agency's Chris Reeds has promised me

0:52:290:52:32

a close encounter with an endangered species.

0:52:320:52:35

Chris, what are we looking for?

0:52:380:52:40

We're looking for the native white-clawed crayfish.

0:52:400:52:43

They were only recently discovered here. It's an important site.

0:52:430:52:47

The white-clawed crayfish, are they quite rare?

0:52:470:52:49

Yes, it's the only native crayfish we have.

0:52:490:52:52

There's quite a few rivers with them in, but they are decreasing rapidly

0:52:520:52:56

because of threats from signal crayfish,

0:52:560:52:58

threats from water quality, habitat destruction and stuff like that.

0:52:580:53:02

White-clawed crayfish have been under threat from American signal crayfish,

0:53:050:53:09

which were introduced into the UK in the 1970s as a food fad,

0:53:090:53:14

and later released into canals and rivers.

0:53:140:53:16

Over-aggressive, oversexed and over here,

0:53:160:53:19

they now threaten our native species.

0:53:190:53:23

Chris is part of a team monitoring their numbers.

0:53:230:53:26

If I wasn't with him, it'd be illegal for me

0:53:260:53:28

to even pick these endangered creatures out of the water.

0:53:280:53:33

So I'm hoping this will be a rare chance to see one close-up.

0:53:330:53:37

Where are we looking, Chris? Where would they be living?

0:53:370:53:40

Under stones, under timber, in relatively shallow water,

0:53:400:53:45

otherwise we won't see them if it's too deep.

0:53:450:53:48

Somewhere like just here, that's a suitable stone.

0:53:480:53:51

-All right, let's try.

-You never know.

0:53:510:53:53

Water is amazingly warm.

0:53:550:53:56

Nope. Nothing there.

0:53:580:54:01

Why is it that this site is so good?

0:54:010:54:04

It's isolated, protected from external threats,

0:54:040:54:07

there's no river flowing into it.

0:54:070:54:09

And it's relatively a long way from the nearest river as well.

0:54:090:54:13

The signal crayfish which can get out and walk to new waters

0:54:130:54:16

probably wouldn't get here.

0:54:160:54:18

It's an important site, it's important that we protect it.

0:54:180:54:22

The signal crayfish, spell out the differences.

0:54:220:54:24

They are the main threat to the white-clawed crayfish?

0:54:240:54:27

They are the main threat. They're bigger, they out-compete,

0:54:270:54:30

they carry a fungal plague that affects the native crayfish and can kill them.

0:54:300:54:34

As well as that, they have a very disturbing effect on the ecology of the local river.

0:54:340:54:39

The rivers get wider and shallower

0:54:390:54:41

because the signals burrow in to the banks, the banks collapse,

0:54:410:54:45

and the river tends to get a lot broader and more silty because of that.

0:54:450:54:49

Wow! So we can blame a lot of things on them?

0:54:490:54:51

-They are basically changing rivers.

-They do, they change the appearance of rivers,

0:54:510:54:56

they eat all the insects and all the fish eggs.

0:54:560:54:59

A lot of the water weed is eaten as well.

0:54:590:55:01

So it isn't just the effect on the native crayfish, it's the effect on the entire ecology.

0:55:010:55:05

Well, I can certainly attest to the fact

0:55:090:55:11

that our native white-claws are in short supply.

0:55:110:55:14

Even here, where the isolated location means they're protected

0:55:170:55:22

from predatory signal crayfish, we're having a hard time finding any.

0:55:220:55:26

-Quite elusive, aren't they?

-They are elusive.

0:55:260:55:30

I sort of thought it might happen.

0:55:300:55:32

I've been here all day, I've had the opportunity to look round

0:55:320:55:35

and I've got one or two I caught early on.

0:55:350:55:37

Good man! So I can see one. After you.

0:55:370:55:40

Oh, wow!

0:55:450:55:47

They're tiny, aren't they?

0:55:470:55:48

They're not the biggest animal in the world.

0:55:480:55:51

But they're quite important.

0:55:510:55:53

-They're quick!

-They are quick.

0:55:530:55:54

There we are.

0:55:540:55:56

They also grab hold of you, which they are doing at the moment.

0:55:560:55:59

Come on then. Come on then.

0:55:590:56:01

So they've got this nice olive-green colour.

0:56:010:56:04

Although they're called white-clawed crayfish,

0:56:040:56:07

I'm not seeing a lot of white. Is it on the underside?

0:56:070:56:11

Yes, if you look at the underside of the claw...

0:56:110:56:14

-Oh, yeah.

-They are sort of pale-coloured.

0:56:140:56:17

It's not exactly white,

0:56:170:56:19

but it's certainly a lot lighter than the American signal crayfish.

0:56:190:56:22

-It's quite cute in a way.

-They are spectacular animals.

0:56:220:56:26

We'll put him back before he goes anywhere.

0:56:260:56:28

This site really is important.

0:56:280:56:30

How many are there left in the country where these are thriving?

0:56:300:56:33

There's probably... It's into the hundreds I would think.

0:56:330:56:36

Every year, we find sites that no longer contain the native crayfish.

0:56:360:56:41

Every year, there's sites where they have disappeared.

0:56:410:56:44

That's through development or the crayfish plague the signal crayfish carries.

0:56:440:56:49

-So it is really important to look after places like this?

-Absolutely.

0:56:490:56:53

I know the crayfish like it wet,

0:56:530:56:55

but this is getting a little bit grim.

0:56:550:56:57

-They need to go back where they came from.

-I'll trust you with that. Come on.

0:56:570:57:01

My journey through Lincolnshire has been a truly eye-opening experience.

0:57:020:57:07

The beauty of the landscape is laid out all around,

0:57:070:57:11

but what's been really enjoyable is the chance

0:57:110:57:13

to discover the historic places that were at the heart of power,

0:57:130:57:18

as well as experiencing a living, breathing heritage

0:57:180:57:22

that's drawing communities together today.

0:57:220:57:25

So, I'm leaving here not just with a new appreciation of what Lincolnshire has to offer,

0:57:250:57:29

but also a sense of what it's contributed

0:57:290:57:32

and continues to contribute to the story of our nation.

0:57:320:57:36

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:57:500:57:53

E-mail [email protected]

0:57:530:57:55

Joe Crowley takes a journey through south Lincolnshire. He starts his journey near Stamford at Burghley House, and gets a rare insight into the famous Burghley horse trials. From there, he travels to Moulton to see a windmill that, once restored, hopes to become the country's tallest, before discovering how one woman's passion has breathed new life into a lost garden. Finally, Joe travels back to Burghley House to discover some endangered creatures that live deep within the lakes.


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