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Hello. Today I'm on a journey in the east of England,
travelling through the historic flatlands of South Lincolnshire.
I'm starting my journey near Stamford at Burghley House,
where I'll be granted a rare insight into the life of an amazing man
who created this building and helped alter the course of British history.
This is the draft in William Cecil's hand
of the warrant to execute Mary, Queen of Scots.
'Then I'll walk the course, getting a unique rider's eye view
'of the hazards of Burghley's famous horse trials.'
They have to jump off that.
-Quite intimidating, isn't it?
-It's quite spectacular, yes.
'I'll travel northeast,
'where I'll put my nose to the grindstone
'discovering how the country's tallest windmill is being brought back to life.'
The crowning glory will be when those sails go on.
There might be an odd tear and bit of a shake in the voice
and definitely a glass of champagne.
'Pushing on west to Easton Gardens, I discover how one woman's passion
'has reclaimed this 400 year-old lost treasure.
'And finally I'll come full circle back to where I started
'as I get close and personal with endangered creatures from the deep
'found in the lakes of Burghley House.'
They're tiny, aren't they?
And, along the way, I'll be looking back at the very best
of the BBC's rural programmes from this part of the world.
Welcome to Country Tracks.
Lincolnshire is a county famous for its agriculture.
Its flat, fertile landscape makes it perfect farming country.
But it's also a place of great beauty and intriguing history.
I'm starting my journey just outside Stamford, which in days gone by
was an important staging post on the route north to south.
But the stone town's ancient architecture is outshone
by the Tudor glory of nearby Burghley House,
built by local man William Cecil in 1555.
And it's here that I'm making my first stop.
William Cecil, or Lord Burghley as he was also known,
was at the heart of Queen Elizabeth I's court.
But he went further than that.
He was her confidante, influencing international events
and shaping the course of our nation's history.
Philip, we are clearly heading up, but what's the destination?
Well, this is the original Tudor grand staircase
and we are going up to a place which people don't normally get to see.
'To find out more about the man and his house,
'I'm following estate manager, Philip Gompertz.'
And here we are on the roof of Burghley.
-Quite something, isn't it?
It's incredible. What a landscape up here. All these pillars, what are they, chimneys?
Most are chimneys. A mixture of classical features you can see up here.
Burghley was very much influenced by the classical studies.
You can see these Doric columns are chimneys. You've got pinnacles.
Triumphal arches. Obelisks.
It's showing his new-found knowledge and wealth that he had.
-He was showing that off to the people.
-What an unusual space.
It's a bold statement, isn't it? So, why this, why here?
He built it for one main reason,
and that was to entertain and flatter Queen Elizabeth I.
-The Queen? So she would have come here, would she?
-She was meant to come here in 1565.
She was due to visit Lord Burghley here.
Unfortunately, his daughter caught smallpox the day before she was due to arrive
and the Queen ended up staying in a local convent nearby and she never ended up staying here.
And this was slightly to prove himself. I mean, he was new money.
-He wasn't old aristocracy.
-He wasn't actually aristocracy.
His father was in the court but from a farming background.
You can see a number of locations on the roof where there are reminiscences of that.
The wheatsheaf on the coat of arms which shows his origins as a family.
The chimneys here were showing that he had this classical knowledge,
but the number of chimneys is showing off there number of rooms he had in his new house
and the number of servants he had.
The more smoke you saw meant more wealth at the time.
It's very ornate up here.
It looks like it's to be enjoyed. There's the staircase we came up.
Most houses wouldn't have stairs to the roof. So would he have been up here?
It's designed to be used and enjoyed, quite frankly.
It's a place where people have walked around up here
and discussed matters of state without being overheard.
It's a place where he could bring his guests onto the roof
and look out over his estate and say, "Look what I've become now."
-A little bit of showing off but a bit of secrecy in there as well?
It's said that, in his day, William Cecil was the most powerful non-royal alive.
His position helped him consolidate the influence and wealth
that enabled him to create the magnificence of Burghley House.
I'm on my way to meet house curator, Jon Culverhouse
to see something truly remarkable that shows,
not only was William Cecil a powerful statesman,
he was also a spy.
This is a remarkable document.
It's remarkable, it's a beautiful thing,
but it's remarkable because at the time, in William Cecil's time,
it was a working document.
This was his atlas.
It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. It dates from, this edition, 1561.
I don't think I've ever seen a map from this time
and it's just so beautifully decorated and so detailed.
And hand-coloured, of course.
These maps of the Continent are very accurate.
You could pretty much find your way around now.
OK, this is Gaul, France.
Southern coast of England.
The coast of France right the way down to Spain in the south.
But, on the back of the page referring to France, is the treasurer's hand.
And what he's doing here is recording the various ports,
He's recording the ports
and then here he's writing who is in charge of the various towns.
He's writing about the size of the garrison of these port towns.
Who is the man in command.
Who is the night commander you see if you want something done. This is intelligence.
It is intelligence, isn't it? The movers and shakers and military strength in different places.
Intelligence gathering. This is 16th century James Bond.
So he was involved in intelligence gathering abroad
but also he had quite potent domestic power, didn't he?
He was a force to be reckoned with. He was right behind the Queen.
He and Walsingham probably just about ran this country together.
He was involved in everything that went on.
There was nothing that the court did, that Elizabeth did, that he didn't have a hand in.
Including some of Elizabeth's biggest decisions she had to make?
The very biggest.
The biggest of which was probably the awful decision to execute her cousin.
'And it's this that starkly illustrates William Cecil's influence over historic events.
'When Queen Mary abdicated the Scottish throne and fled to England in 1567,
'her cousin Queen Elizabeth granted her a safe haven.
'But when plots and rumours began to circulate
'that Catholic Mary was looking to usurp Protestant Elizabeth,
'her courtiers knew that action had to be taken.
'It was William Cecil who put before the Queen a royal warrant
'suggesting she execute her own cousin.'
It was a very major thing to actually get rid of Mary.
How can we be sure today that he had such a hand in this?
This is the draft, in William Cecil's hand,
of the warrant to execute Mary, Queen of Scots.
From this, he made a fair copy which was then taken to the Queen
and she was persuaded to sign it.
You can see it's an emotional document.
This is his hurried hand if you like.
And here we get a sense of just how delicate he had to be.
He's choosing and crossing out his words carefully.
It's written in such a way that he can persuade the Queen.
Nobody knew her better.
He was the man who really understood what she was all about.
-There's a narrative here, a thought process going on on the page.
-As he does it.
And so, when he'd put this together
and was happy with it, he then had the fair copy drawn up
and presented it to the Queen.
It's one thing to gently whisper this in someone's ear.
-It's another to commit it to writing.
Only someone very close to the Queen could do this.
I think probably only Cecil himself.
He was as close to her as anybody was in court.
It's pretty commonly thought that she signed it
with the thought that she would have time to recant
and say, "I didn't quite mean that."
But in fact, what happened was, the moment the ink was dry on the signature,
Cecil has it galloped up to Fotheringhay the next day,
where the Queen was being held, and she was executed within 24 hours.
So that there was no time to go back
and Elizabeth was deeply shocked and furious.
She exiled Cecil from the court and Cecil was in disgrace for three months.
It's an incredible privilege to be here with this actual document,
which, to some extent, changed history.
Yeah, the real thing is quite remarkable.
The sense of power and everything else that was put into this document
is there in this man's handwriting.
I think to see it in the flesh, as it were, is a very powerful and rare privilege.
This is England in the making.
'Thousands of tourists come here to see the beautiful building that William Cecil created.
'It really is a magnificent place.
'But thanks to those documents, I also feel I now have a grasp
'on the secret history of both the house and the man.
'Just beyond Burghley House, lies the local town of Stamford.
'William Cecil's wealth also helped revive
'the fortunes of this whole community in the 1500s.
'Jonathan Foyle stopped off there to find out more.'
Between Burghley's gatehouse and the River Welland,
lies the main approach into Stamford called High Street St Martin's
and the Cecils' influence can be seen from one end to the other.
Through a mixture of money and canny business sense, Cecil transformed
a medieval street into one of the finest highways in Britain.
When we talk about "high" in terms of high street and highway,
it has since the ninth century meant a primary route.
There are over 5,000 high streets in Britain
and, as they were the premier routes into town,
they became the focus of high fashion.
By about the 1720s,
architectural pattern books were becoming popular.
The pattern book is a way of giving you a manual
so you could copy the most fashionable styles from the capital and the great architects.
Now, this sort of chunky style became the Stamford style.
And it owes its origins to James Gibbs, the Scottish architect
who built the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields
by Trafalgar Square.
And these great blocks that march around the windows and doors are called Gibbs architraves.
Stamford, the first major town north of London, loved it.
Balconies were all the rage in the Regency period
when it was much more acceptable to just show off,
so imagine the age of the stagecoach.
Coming into town would be 40 coaches a day bringing not just mail
but people of fashion and influence who were looking for places to lodge,
people to spend their time with and places to spend their money.
This was a spectator sport.
Stamford's wealth was built on the back of these fashionable travellers.
Inns provided a fresh change of horse and, in an age before hotels,
a safe place to spend the night.
Martin Smith is an expert on Stamford's coaching inns
and one of its most famous is the George near the river end of High Street St Martin's.
The structure of the whole building was based around this access route through,
and this would have been open to the elements
and horses and carriages and dung on the floor, probably.
And we can see scrape marks on the side.
And there's wagers actually in the early 19th century
to come down High Street St Martin's and do a right-angled turn
the quickest you could, through into this access route.
So this whole building would be rumbling
with the weight of vehicles, horses,
from the 17th century onwards.
As traffic increased between London and York, the George
expanded its accommodation providing a welcome home from home.
And here is this fantastic Georgian wing,
which is like an actual whole Georgian street.
It is, that is no normal-looking B&B.
The Cecils of Burghley House were paying for this,
so they put in the best they could to cater for the traveller.
You'd be wrong to think High Street St Martins
is all coaching inns and period des reses.
At the end of the street we find what looks like a row of quaint cottages.
But how can such lowly buildings occupy such a prime site?
Well, they're not cottages, but almshouses.
Almshouses are really an early form of terrace,
more or less identical houses united behind one facade
but they come from an older tradition, the monastic cloister
or the college quad, only here they are not enclosed,
they are broken open to display the charity
and the piety of the person who paid for them to be built.
And the builder, William Cecil.
William Cecil's houses top and tail St Martin's.
From the palatial Burghley which showcases how powerful he was,
to the humble almshouses revealing his pious charity.
By the north side of the almshouses
there is the bridge over the River Welland,
and here St Martin's ends and Stamford proper begins.
Right by the stone ford from which the Anglo-Saxons drew the name,
You could say that this is the end of this leg of the great coaching route
and the baton is handed on to the succession of communities
who all drew from and contributed to the Great North Road.
Back down the road at Burghley House I've come out into the 2,000 acres
of surrounding parkland to find out about a world-class sporting event
that is helping secure
the estate's financial future.
COMMENTATOR: Andrew's focus, unmistakable.
To come back and jump straight into water,
Armada is answering all of the questions with absolute ease.
Burghley Horse trials is one of the main events in the equestrian calendar.
It's one of only three worldwide events with a four-star rating,
and the course here at Burghley is known to be very technical,
requiring skill and endurance from both horse and rider.
And its four-star rating means
it ranks as the most challenging level for an equestrian event.
'Just that one unfortunate fall.'
This year the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials are celebrating their 50th birthday,
and who better to show me what goes into staging the event
than clerk of the course, Philip Herbert.
Now I'm not exactly au fait with all things equestrian
so what happens here in a horse trial over three days?
This is what is called a three-day event.
-Which strangely enough takes place over four days.
And traditionally the three days have the three different tests.
The first day is dressage, the second day is for cross country,
and the third day is for showjumping.
Because we have more entries these days than there were originally,
it takes two days to do all the dressage,
so that takes place on Thursday and Friday,
and then Saturday is the big day which is when my side of things
comes into play which is the cross country.
Burghley held the first World Championships in 1966
and has staged more international championships than any other venue.
It's down to staff like Philip and the course designers
to make sure it retains its prestige status.
So he's taking me for a closer look at one of the jumps
the cross-country course is famous for.
The Leaf Pit.
'And head now towards the Leaf Pit.'
'He can attack this, which he does.'
The log we're walking up to here is actually the alternative,
the easy alternative, of the obstacle.
The actual question is jumping down the step over here.
So horses are coming this way.
From that direction.
And they come to the edge of the step here,
and they have to jump off that,
and then there will be another obstacle at the bottom
which isn't there at the moment, which they will jump next.
That's quite a leap.
I wouldn't be that happy jumping off it right now with no horse,
but sitting a lot higher, it is quite intimidating, isn't it?
It is quite spectacular, yes.
'Probably route one.
'That unique style of riding.'
How dangerous is this?
There is some danger in the sport, isn't there? That is the challenge.
When you get on a horse and you ride it at over 20 mph
up to solid obstacles, inevitably there is some danger there,
but we manage the danger in the best possible way we can,
by the way the profiles of the fences are designed,
and we also have safety systems we incorporate into some of the fences.
And what's the challenge here, in terms of what skills it brings out of the rider,
what are you looking for in this kind of obstacle?
The three-day event is the all-round test for a horse
and they have to do the dressage first which is the obedience test
and they do certain movements,
and then they have to be bold and brave and agile
to do the cross country,
then they have to come back on the third day,
or the fourth day as it is now,
and do the showjumping
which shows that they are still fit and sound and agile enough
to jump the knock-down fences,
so it covers the whole range of equestrian skills.
And when you design this, do you jump on a horse
and test out the course once you've put it all up?
No, the course is never tested by anyone beforehand.
The first rider is the tester of it.
I find that extraordinary.
So how do you know if you have designed it so that it is rideable?
The course designer, Captain Mark Phillips, who does the job now
is an extremely experienced horseman
and he is spending his whole life looking at horses jumping obstacles,
and he has a very good idea in his mind of exactly what a horse can and can't do.
And then we have a whole panel of inspectors that come round
and make sure it complies with the rules, and it is all safe and suitable.
This is one of the leading events in the world,
it is run at the top level of competition,
and in fact it is one of the few events
that has never been cancelled or abandoned,
it's run every single year since 1961.
Crikey, some British determination in there, isn't there?
Even on foot you get a sense of just how tough this course is going to be.
When Adam Henson travelled to these parts,
he sampled a much more sedate use of the Lincolnshire countryside.
This big sky county makes it perfect for bird-watching.
It also boasts some of the best soil in the country, ideal for growing crops.
I'm in Deeping St Nicholas
to meet a farmer who's passionate about this landscape
and the birdlife that thrives here.
He has an MBE for a lifetime's dedication to farming and conservation,
and last year he was the Countryside Farmer of the Year.
And to meet him, you have to be up very early.
-Great to see you.
Now tell me, how long have you been watching birds?
Well, since I was about this high, I suppose.
In fact, I fell out my first tree when I was nine.
I know we haven't got many trees around here,
and I was in bathing trunks.
And I fell into a bed of nettles.
Goodness me! And it didn't put you off?
You've been looking after them for a long time, how did that get started?
I suppose in 1982 I wanted to know what birds were breeding on my farm
and so I came down the farm here with a map
and a pen and a pair of binoculars and recorded what I saw and heard.
By doing that I know what's declining,
and through my surveys on my farms and other people's farms,
I can see what is working and what isn't working,
so then I do my conservation measures
to fit things that are not doing very well.
Amazing. I'd love to have a look round.
Yes, OK, let's go.
Nicholas has monitored the birds on his farm for 30 years
and he's found that numbers have been falling steadily.
Why do you think that farmland birds have decreased?
Well, quite simply we've been farming too well.
We've got a good armoury of weedkillers,
so now in a field of wheat there needn't be any weeds
if the farmer does his job properly,
and the insects live on the weeds,
the birds need the insects to feed their young,
and when you have got two large fields of wheat,
or even three large fields of wheat, next to one another,
with no weeds in,
where will birds find the insects to feed their young?
On your farm you have done a lot to change that.
Yes, we have.
We have planted hedges, we have widened dykes into ponds,
we've put nest boxes up,
put islands in these ponds we've dug,
and we've also got these cultivated margins.
They're probably the biggest asset of all.
A lot of farmers would find it probably quite onerous
and many would claim they wouldn't have the time
to be able to put something back and get the birds here again.
Well, where there's a will, there's a way.
But tragically though, where there isn't a will,
there very often isn't a way.
But it's not too difficult.
There are prescriptions for farmers to get paid for doing these things,
and we are guardians of the countryside,
and we should acknowledge that,
and get on and try and bring farmland birds back.
To monitor the birds on his farm,
Nicholas keeps an eye on any newborn chicks.
So what are you doing here then, Nicholas?
I am putting a ring on these tree sparrow legs.
I've been monitoring the nest boxes,
we have put up 20 nest boxes for tree sparrows
and nearly all of them have been taken up.
We can follow their progress?
I wouldn't say follow their progress,
but there is a chance that one of these might be found somewhere.
Each ring has a different number on, and it has an address on it.
We know where it started life,
and when it's found it could be we know where it finishes its life.
You know how successful they have been, how long they have lived,
-how far they have gone.
I've got three nest boxes
where they are actually having three broods this year.
So there is obviously plenty of food around,
and the sort of ponds that I've dug and the hedges I've planted
are actually working.
Nicholas grows organic, arable crops on this farm and like most farmers
he is always on the lookout to diversify.
By chance, he discovered a way of combining his love of birds and making his land work.
Now with all your passion for farm birds,
you're now growing this great big field of sunflowers, just for birdseed.
How did the idea come about?
We started feeding the birds in the winter in our farmyards.
And we had such a lot of birds,
800 buntings and finches at any one time,
it was a spectacle, so we had an open day.
And at that open day, two or three people said,
"Can you sell me any bird food?
"You must be feeding them with some good stuff."
But the truth was, we weren't.
But, you know, a few years later we started growing sunflowers
because they were far more nutritious than the rape
that we were selling then.
And here we are today.
So how many acres in total, just for the birds?
Making a bit of money?
Well, I'm not a very good accountant,
but we are keeping our heads above water, anyway.
Sounds like something I should do back home!
Nicolas is being modest.
He's now the biggest bird seed grower in the UK,
and sells 1,500 tonnes of it a year.
Alongside the sunflower seed he also grows millet, maize,
and wheat, to name a few.
After the seed is harvested,
it is cleaned and separated from stalks,
then it all gets mixed up into different bird recipes.
Then if flies off the shelves to homes across the country.
On my travels through South Lincolnshire,
I have left Burghley House behind me
and I am travelling northeast to the village of Moulton.
What an incredible building.
This is Moulton windmill.
It was built in 1822.
Unfortunately it has stood idle for the last 15 years,
but I hear that's about to change.
Janet, how are you?
-Very well, thank you.
-Good. Very busy up here, what is going on?
It is busy.
We are finishing off the last of the shutters ready for the sails.
Getting the shutters ready for the sails. This is what?
This is a shutter. This is number 208.
So the very last one that I am stitching now.
And where is this, pardon my windmill ignorance,
where is this going to go?
This sits on the sail stock,
so basically you have a piece of wood that sits in the middle
with a shutter either side,
and this allows us to actually catch the wind to push the sails round.
So it works a bit like a Venetian blind.
Once this shutter's stitched, it is coated with two coats
of this white paint, and that just seals the shutter then,
and makes it weatherproof.
The other bit it does is it makes that canvas taut.
As you can see on this at the minute, it is a bit baggy.
That just tightens it all up so it shrinks the canvas.
Very good. And a chain gang in operation behind us moving them all.
This is a lot of work. You have been going for how long now?
We started the project in 1998,
and the majority of the group involved in the project
-were here back in those early days.
I think it's just the sense of community we get from this building,
it really is special. It gets under your skin.
You don't have to be a geographer to look across and see this part
of Lincolnshire is very flat. It's ideal for these buildings.
Yes, and in this area alone,
there were over 300 windmills throughout Lincolnshire.
In this parish there were 12 working windmills and now we're down to one.
And if we don't save those buildings, where has our identity gone?
When these go up, how big is this windmill going to be?
We are the biggest, or we will be the biggest,
so as soon as the sails go on
we'll ask the Guinness Book of Records to get that listing correct.
At the minute, that goes to Maud Foster in Boston.
I'm sorry, we are going to have that title.
-A bit of windmill competition.
-There is, yes.
The crowning glory will be when those sails go on,
and there might be an odd tear and a little bit of a shake in the voice.
Definitely a glass of champagne.
Despite losing its sails in a storm in 1822,
this mill was working until just 15 years ago.
And to find out what this windmill was like in its prime,
I'm heading down to meet the last miller of Moulton,
This building lost its sails over 100 years ago.
-How have people been milling here ever since?
At the time it was let to another flour miller, Mr Tindall,
and he was a very enterprising miller,
and he bought the mill at Holbeach and moved there eventually.
But at that time he brought in a steam engine.
Obviously with engine power you can mill every day.
When you are waiting on the sails, you wait for the wind to blow.
And also, looking around, there are some peculiar things.
What would this, this looks like a lethal acorn,
but what actually is it?
I think it is part and parcel from the old windmill days,
to hang on the sails, on the chains behind the sails.
So that would open up or close up the shutters on the sails?
They will require the same thing or some newer ones
when they get the restoration.
How do you feel about the local people here, the community,
taking this on, it restoring it and putting sails on?
It's the best thing that could ever happen to it.
In all my career I wanted to see it, hopefully, preserved.
If any mill in this country is worth preserving, it is this one,
because it is the biggest and tallest that you come across.
I'm not saying that cos it was mine.
Because I've been in a good many, and that is a fact.
It really is a Rolls-Royce of a mill,
there's not another one like it.
Without doubt this is an incredibly unique place.
I love all the original features, the machine parts,
there's 100-year-old graffiti from some of the millers here,
and this great big solid, towering building.
But what is so important is that once this place
was at the centre of local food production,
and now thanks to everyone's efforts here
it is once again a community space,
it is once again at the heart and soul of Moulton.
James Wong learnt all about
another of the region's traditional industries, farming.
Rather than plucking fruit or pulling up veg,
he was tiptoeing through the tulips.
I'm really lucky to see a field like this in the UK nowadays.
It is becoming an increasingly rare sight.
But just 50 years ago flower fields
were a really common part of the landscape in these parts.
The family of farmers responsible for this dazzling display
have been growing for the cut flower market since the 1950s.
They remember when their nursery here
alongside the flat plains of Lincolnshire
was surrounded by flower farms.
It wasn't that many years ago
when there used to be literally coach trips round here.
People would come from all over the country, have an evening
in the area and have the coach trip round the bulb fields.
Daffodils, tulips, whatever.
-No need for a flight to Amsterdam.
In fact, back in the '50s and '60s,
this was a vibrant economy of flower growers.
NEWSREADER: 'These are the tulip fields of South Lincolnshire.
'Some of the blooms are sold as cut flowers
'but most of them are grown to produce bulbs.'
Most of these farms are gone
and it is hard for businesses like this
to compete with Dutch companies.
They've cornered the market in tulips, thanks to economies of scale.
The situation is,
we can have a lorry load of flowers here and nobody to buy them.
We'll send them to Holland
and they will be bought by the same English companies
who wouldn't buy them in this country, perhaps.
So it literally has to go to Holland just to get on the auction system.
-It is about getting into the supply chain.
It almost needs the Dutch seal of approval, if you like.
Which is crackers really, because we are British.
Ironically though, right now the interest in British flowers is rising.
Supermarkets like Marks and Spencer
make a point of labelling their flowers British.
Peter Ireland, who manages M&S flower buyers,
says there is a real demand for blooms
that haven't travelled thousands of miles.
Peter, what does the average shopper think about British-grown flowers?
Our customers think they are fantastic.
We sell over 100 million flowers to our customers.
I think British flowers have got such a lot going for them.
We can all remember that great heritage of our grandad's garden.
I remember him making me cut his dahlias for him all those years ago.
And I think that resonates with shoppers.
You can get British flowers all through the year.
It is too early to predict a return to past glories.
But Mark's family business is certainly busy.
And he set me a challenge to see if I can sell his flowers
at a local auction for a profit.
I just hope the buyers there agree with the man from M&S
and are happy to pay a good price for my British blooms.
Wish me luck.
So, Mark, how do we do this?
Do we go for the biggest, most developed ones, presumably?
What you want to look for is the most open ones.
Just give them a little wiggle, they gently ease up.
There is no soil in this.
This is growing hydroponically, just in water?
Yes, it is a lot easier to work.
Less mess, we end up with a lot cleaner product.
Also, if you happen to pick the wrong one,
all you have got to do is drop it back,
it falls back on the spikes, you can carry on.
I am not sure if I am as quick as those other guys.
I mean, I think we'll have to give you a bit of training.
I don't think I'd earn the hourly rate, I can tell you that.
So how much is a bunch like this worth?
13p a stem, probably £5 or £6 worth.
That is not bad at all.
-But, we have got to finish the job yet.
Come on, we've got to get them packed.
And so to the production line.
They produce 15 million tulips so there is no time to hang about.
What does this bit of kit do?
Just chop off the bulbs?
-This takes the bulb off at the bottom.
-And what we have got to do is lay them on here neatly.
Come on! Quick! Come on!
They all get tangled up, though.
I know, that's part of the battle.
You've lopped the bulb off,
now just grab any old pile and stick them into bunches?
Now we make sure we have the same lengths
and they have to be the same stage of flower.
Like a puzzle, match them?
You have to match them and count them at the same time.
That's a lot harder than I imagined.
Now they are picked, we need to make sure they get to market
and ultimately the customer in prime condition.
So we wrap them in the white paper to keep the stems straight
and to stop them growing and bending,
because they do grow once they are in water.
Oh, really? Even once they are cut?
They can grow two to three inches once they are in water.
So six bunches in one batch.
Two, three, four, five, six.
And just roll it up like an ice-cream cone?
There we are.
As I head for the auction, I feel strangely proud
of my British blooms.
But will they sell?
This local auction is doing well,
but once auctions like this would have sold many more blooms.
Now they are the preserve of independent florists and market traders.
These guys are in search of a bargain
so it'll be tough to persuade them to pay the price I'm looking for.
The time has come, and now I am here it is really quite intimidating.
AUCTIONEER TALKS QUICKLY
How does this work? I don't see anyone bidding.
I don't see anyone waving anything in the air.
This fellow has just had a bid.
He raises his face, the auctioneer gets used to how they are bidding.
Some people wave like mad.
I expected them to wave something in the air.
It's not like a traditional auction
where they have card numbers. Very subtle.
This is another Narcissi.
The Narcissi sell easily,
but then I realise some rival tulips have sold.
How much did these tulips go far?
They went for about 50p.
50p for five?
50p for five benches?
So 10p each.
10p a stem.
Maybe it's going to be tough to hit my 13p a stem target after all.
That's what Mark gets per stem.
But how will I do?
Well, it is my turn next.
Everything's happening so quickly.
A pound a go,
pound for 10?
Bid £1.20, £1.30.
£1.30 for 10.
That's 13p each! Bargain.
Happy with that?
That's exactly what he said he would get. Fantastic.
I had great fun at the auction.
Wouldn't it be nice to think that one day,
if current trends continue,
Britain's tulip fields might be on the tourist map once more?
James Wong and the tulips of Lincolnshire.
My travels have brought me west on a horticultural mission of my own,
to Easton Walled Gardens.
I'm here to meet Lady Ursula Cholmeley,
whose green fingers and hard graft
have brought this once derelict landscape back to life.
How big is the area we are dealing with?
We're dealing with 12 acres.
This is coming into view. This is fantastic.
What a landscape.
It is a fantastic landscape. It is quite amazing.
People can't quite believe it
-when they come to the top here and look out.
What would it have been like just 10 years ago here?
10 years ago we couldn't have been able to get visitors to this site,
it was just covered with trees.
Very, very different.
For 450 years these gardens were constantly cultivated,
but they were abandoned during the Second World War.
When Lady Cholmeley and her family moved back here in 2001,
this is the sight that greeted them.
50 years of neglect had taken its toll.
So when you got back here, what sort of sight greeted you,
what was this place like?
I thing lost garden would be a polite way of describing it.
It was just covered. Everything behind us
was just covered in trees, mostly sycamores, elder, brambles.
Nature had completely taken over.
This bridge had trees growing out of it. We took the whole thing apart.
This was the starting point.
This was where you began.
Because at least it was finite.
You couldn't make a list, there were so many things to do.
So we said let's get the bridge
so we can actually see it clear of trees,
clear of the turf that had grown on it,
so this was our starting point.
This is where you got going.
The gardens here obviously beautiful and it is a big estate.
It doesn't quite seem to fit the size of the house.
It feels like something is missing, is that true?
What you can see now is a tiny proportion
of what the house that was there was.
In fact, there was a great big manor house there
until 1951 when the house was demolished.
Crikey! So what was the house like, what was the scale of it?
A very big country house,
had a lot of glass round the south and west fronts
so the gardens were very important to it cos you could look out from it.
Sadly, its future from the beginning of the 20th century was always in jeopardy,
and during the Second World War, it was used by the Army.
They used to let grenades off in the greenhouses,
rounds in the house. And it was really in such a terrible state
by 1951 that my husband's grandfather made the heartbreaking decision
-to pull his house down.
When you say grenades in the greenhouse,
it sounds like they were training. But they were just stationed here?
-Like a barracks.
-Yes, the officers were across the other side of the A1,
and the lads were here. And, you know, they had some wild nights.
Sadly, the house is lost for ever.
But years of hard work and dedication mean the gardens
have been brought back to life and are open for anyone to enjoy.
And now the Cholmeley family are back tending this site,
they are continuing 14 generations of family tradition.
Here, we've got the early sweet peas, very early this year
because of the very warm weather we've had this spring.
-These are all sweet peas?
-Yes, we grow 60 varieties here.
60! Did you have to recreate this garden,
or was it there to be uncovered when you were hacking back the foliage?
I think we worked from a set of black-and-white photos
from about 100 years ago, so we had some idea of what was under here.
And we found broken-down walls and thought,
they obviously need rebuilding at some stage.
We're 10 years down the line now.
And although I had quite a plan as to how it would be,
you never imagine you can pull it off and it is fantastic
to come and say, "Yes, this is not just a site we're working on now, it's a garden."
And a legacy, now, a garden that will hopefully stay this way
-for a long time to come.
-I hope so.
But for me today,
it's just been lovely to stroll around these grounds.
However, Juliet Morris's visit to the surrounding countryside
was a slightly less serene experience.
This is the village of Haxey where for 364 days of the year,
you can enjoy a relatively peaceful stroll through the streets.
But for one day, forget it. Because the whole of the village
is turned into one large playing field
for a game that's known here as the Haxey Hood.
The story goes that Lady de Mowbray, the wife of the local landowner,
was riding over the hills towards nearby Westwoodside
when her silk riding hood was blown away by the wind.
Much to her amusement, the local farm hands competed so vigorously to save it for her,
that she donated 13 acres of land
so that the event could be re-enacted every year.
Today, the Haxey Hood is as popular as ever among both players and spectators.
Hundreds of people take part and get into the "sway",
which is a kind of rugby-style scrap.
Anyone can join in as there are no official teams.
The objective is to get the hood to one of four pubs,
so everyone pushes towards their favoured watering hole.
The hood, which today is made of a leather tube,
can't be thrown or run with, so the game can take hours.
The re-enactment all starts fairly early.
Three pubs in Haxey itself and one in Westwoodside, half-a-mile away,
are the possible destinations for the hood.
And like all good sportsmen,
the players and the officials, the ones in red called Boggins,
begin the day walking the pitch, shall we say.
The modern day hood is on display,
but remains in the hands of the Boggins for now.
# And to sew and to reap and to mow... #
Three traditional songs are sung in each of the four pubs.
# Born to be a farmer's boy. #
The Fool of the Hood is painted up to look like the bruised and bloodied farm hand
who tumbled over the fields after Lady de Mowbray's hat.
Quite a lot of these people had their first pint
with their fry-up at 10:30am this morning.
Right now, it's 1:30pm, there are still another couple of pubs to go to,
the thing doesn't start until 3:30pm.
So I'm sticking with orange juice. I've got to pace myself.
I've also got to try and get to the bar.
It's what we do every year, a tradition, the end of Christmas and New Year.
When the sway goes down,
you wonder if you're going to get out alive.
That's it. Isn't it? It is.
-It's horrible. But it's fantastic.
-Sweaty bodies, loads of steam.
Hmm, can't wait! After the serious business of trying out all the pubs, the fun begins.
It's off to the fields for the main event,
and the game, well, it just begins.
Somewhere in the middle of all this mayhem is the hood.
I can't actually tell you which way it's going at the moment.
As somebody who's up for giving most things a go, quite honestly,
I am so happy not to be face down in the mud in the middle of all that.
I am staying on the sidelines!
The Boggins try to retain as much order as possible, keeping players
and the huge crowd in step.
One trainer for sale!
Our father was the lord, so we were brought up with it.
-Fantastic. You've never taken part, though?
-No, we're not allowed to.
Females aren't allowed to take part.
-Would you like to have ever had a go?
We would when we was young, yes.
Darkness descends, but no-one leaves the sway without a fight.
Since the game started an hour and a half or so ago,
the sway has gradually been moving uphill
towards the village of Westwoodside.
There's one pub in Westwoodside, and three that way in Haxey.
So as you can imagine, Westwoodside is often outnumbered.
But right now, the signs are looking very good.
Now, you are the Lord of the Hood. What does that mean?
I'm the chief referee,
try and keep some composure amongst the idiots in the middle.
Do you miss actually getting involved in it?
I used to do, yes, when I first took over I did.
But I don't now. I'm quite happy just being on the sidelines.
It's a young man's game.
It does look pretty rough. It must hurt, doesn't it?
Yeah, you'll hurt for two or three weeks after!
Why has it got such a special significance, both in Haxey
and in everybody's hearts and minds here?
I think because there's nothing else really like it. Everything has been sanitised.
In fact, if the HSC got their hands on it, I don't think it would happen!
Well, it looks like the hood is on its way to Westwoodside.
Westwoodside were the underdogs, having only one pub.
But right now, it's on the home straight.
The people of Westwoodside gather to add their support
to the last few yards of the hood's journey.
When the landlord reaches out to claim the hood...
-..the game's over, and the pub and its regulars
will keep the hood until the rematch next year.
There is only one word to describe today - mad.
I dread to think how a lot of these people are going to wake up feeling tomorrow morning.
However, the game may have ended, but the party has just started.
I think now is the time to get in on the action.
Juliet Morris braving the fray of the Haxey Hood.
I'm on the last leg of my Lincolnshire journey,
going full circle back to where I started
near Stamford in the grounds of Burghley House.
There, I've been offered the chance to get hands-on
with a creature of the deep that's been discovered lurking in the lake.
But first, the Country Tracks weather for the week ahead.
I'm on a journey beneath the big skies of South Lincolnshire.
I started at Burghley House on the outskirts of Stamford.
Then I headed northeast to Moulton
and a building that's set to reclaim its place
as Britain's tallest windmill.
Travelling to Easton, I saw how its famous walled gardens
had been brought back from the dead.
Now finally, I'm coming full circle to Burghley House,
where the Environment Agency's Chris Reeds has promised me
a close encounter with an endangered species.
Chris, what are we looking for?
We're looking for the native white-clawed crayfish.
They were only recently discovered here. It's an important site.
The white-clawed crayfish, are they quite rare?
Yes, it's the only native crayfish we have.
There's quite a few rivers with them in, but they are decreasing rapidly
because of threats from signal crayfish,
threats from water quality, habitat destruction and stuff like that.
White-clawed crayfish have been under threat from American signal crayfish,
which were introduced into the UK in the 1970s as a food fad,
and later released into canals and rivers.
Over-aggressive, oversexed and over here,
they now threaten our native species.
Chris is part of a team monitoring their numbers.
If I wasn't with him, it'd be illegal for me
to even pick these endangered creatures out of the water.
So I'm hoping this will be a rare chance to see one close-up.
Where are we looking, Chris? Where would they be living?
Under stones, under timber, in relatively shallow water,
otherwise we won't see them if it's too deep.
Somewhere like just here, that's a suitable stone.
-All right, let's try.
-You never know.
Water is amazingly warm.
Nope. Nothing there.
Why is it that this site is so good?
It's isolated, protected from external threats,
there's no river flowing into it.
And it's relatively a long way from the nearest river as well.
The signal crayfish which can get out and walk to new waters
probably wouldn't get here.
It's an important site, it's important that we protect it.
The signal crayfish, spell out the differences.
They are the main threat to the white-clawed crayfish?
They are the main threat. They're bigger, they out-compete,
they carry a fungal plague that affects the native crayfish and can kill them.
As well as that, they have a very disturbing effect on the ecology of the local river.
The rivers get wider and shallower
because the signals burrow in to the banks, the banks collapse,
and the river tends to get a lot broader and more silty because of that.
Wow! So we can blame a lot of things on them?
-They are basically changing rivers.
-They do, they change the appearance of rivers,
they eat all the insects and all the fish eggs.
A lot of the water weed is eaten as well.
So it isn't just the effect on the native crayfish, it's the effect on the entire ecology.
Well, I can certainly attest to the fact
that our native white-claws are in short supply.
Even here, where the isolated location means they're protected
from predatory signal crayfish, we're having a hard time finding any.
-Quite elusive, aren't they?
-They are elusive.
I sort of thought it might happen.
I've been here all day, I've had the opportunity to look round
and I've got one or two I caught early on.
Good man! So I can see one. After you.
They're tiny, aren't they?
They're not the biggest animal in the world.
But they're quite important.
-They are quick.
There we are.
They also grab hold of you, which they are doing at the moment.
Come on then. Come on then.
So they've got this nice olive-green colour.
Although they're called white-clawed crayfish,
I'm not seeing a lot of white. Is it on the underside?
Yes, if you look at the underside of the claw...
-They are sort of pale-coloured.
It's not exactly white,
but it's certainly a lot lighter than the American signal crayfish.
-It's quite cute in a way.
-They are spectacular animals.
We'll put him back before he goes anywhere.
This site really is important.
How many are there left in the country where these are thriving?
There's probably... It's into the hundreds I would think.
Every year, we find sites that no longer contain the native crayfish.
Every year, there's sites where they have disappeared.
That's through development or the crayfish plague the signal crayfish carries.
-So it is really important to look after places like this?
I know the crayfish like it wet,
but this is getting a little bit grim.
-They need to go back where they came from.
-I'll trust you with that. Come on.
My journey through Lincolnshire has been a truly eye-opening experience.
The beauty of the landscape is laid out all around,
but what's been really enjoyable is the chance
to discover the historic places that were at the heart of power,
as well as experiencing a living, breathing heritage
that's drawing communities together today.
So, I'm leaving here not just with a new appreciation of what Lincolnshire has to offer,
but also a sense of what it's contributed
and continues to contribute to the story of our nation.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
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.