Clandon Park - Ecology - Outdoor Education Days

Clandon Park

Clandon Park Field Study Days for Lake, Meadow or Woodland

The peace and tranquility of the private agricultural Estate of Clandon Park has been proactively protected by the Earls of Onslow for many centuries. This protective approach has not only been taken for health & safety reasons on the farm, or simply to protect the Onslow family's  privacy but it has also been taken so as to allow the fauna and flora to flourish without too many footfalls disturbing the (many and various) habitats that the Onslows of Clandon Park have created. The Estate is the Seat of the Onslow Earldom, has always been a working agricultural Estate, and is the Onslow family's creation which they treasure. 


The Onslow family have donated several thousands of acres of land for many important causes in Surrey over their more recent history. This philanthropy has resulted in the gift or donation of land such as Stoke Park, a hospital, playing fields & greens for schools & villages, Guildford Cathedral, much of the village of Onslow and the family have built & gifted a large number of affordable homes. The Onslow Family also arranged (through Lord Onslow's family trust) for the donation (along with a significant endowment) of  Clandon House with its 7 acre garden to the Nation ( The Dept of Works) which later conveyed Clandon House & its garden to the National Trust. Lord Onslow later agreed to convey a further approx 2 acres to the National Trust so they could build a larger visitors car park on a grass paddock where we had also planted various bulbs. According to the current Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulation Authority this is a major donation and they consider the Onslow family to be classed as a major donor Family, worthy of note (Whatever that may mean but it is apparently relevant in their statutory Code of Practice).


Throughout their interesting, philanthropic, academic, farming, political and often very colourful  past, the Earls of Onslow have always made it their business to support education, particularly through their commitment of time and support for schools, colleges and universities. The current Lord Onslow continues to  lobby for 'Educational Opportunity through Equal Opportunity for All' on every front. 


What remains of the Onslow's once 31,231.0 acres of Estates and their various local built properties in Surrey, is the current Earls approx 1000 acre private farm  called Clandon Park.This historic place with its farming, equestrian &  various related businesses will, one day, pass to the current Earl's daughter (who will be the first ever female heir to inherit Clandon Park) and then to her heirs as an historic working farm that has been handed down through many generations of farming, fishing & equestrian Onslows ! 


Clandon Park is a very special, unspoilt and magical place because of the dedication of the Onslow family to keep the Parkland private at all costs. However, the Onslow family have  always supported local schools when visits for field study have been requested. Those informal visits have now been converted in to a more formal educational programme that started  in spring 2018.


Lord & Lady Onslow and their daughter are committed to the new Clandon Park Educational Programme of Courses and Field Study Events. During these educational days, the business activity on the area of the farmland or forestry that is to be studied, is suspended temporarily for that day. This is so as to avoid the movement of heavy machinery for forestry & land management , and other such routine work, that would have otherwise disturbed study in the open air environment. This action also goes some way to ensure a safer environment for students working in the field. 


Studying 'in the field' is like no other form of learning. A single field trip has, for many eminent Scientists, Dendrogists, Foresters & others, created a defining moment in their lives, when they were in a very special environment, free thinking and inspired ... when they realised that Science, Dendrology, Geography, Forestry, the environment or 'whatever' was thereafter going to be their 'thing'. A passion for their subject was born 'in the field' , on a field trip ... and that feeling has never left them. 


The team at Clandon Park know that if any field trip is going to inspire students it will be this one. Here students will have the freedom to investigate their own field of interest, explore to find out what they are really interested in, study historic documents about the plantings and habitats that have been created on the land, record their findings and learn in a quiet, much treasured and unspoilt environment. 



The habitats that that will be made available for study at Clandon Park, at specific times of the year (to avoid disturbing birds & animals during the height of the breeding season & certain plant growth) will be as follows:


*A Lake created in the late 1970's/early 1980's with lakeside planting created 1980-2015 may be compared with a lake created between 1790 and 1820 with watermargin planting between 1790-1830, 1924-1928 and 1980-2015.


*A Meadow that has been grazed and  rarely ploughed (in last 400 years) may be compared with a meadow that has been ploughed recently & reseeded to create the Clandon Park Seed or Meadow Hay. 


*A Woodland glade due for thinning (after being untouched for 30 years) may be compared with a woodland glade that was thinned in 2017. 


*Grazing land used for grazing sheep may be compared with land grazed by other animals. 


*A 2018 replanted Covert and a covert planted 10 years ago may be compared to a covert planted just over 50 years ago.


Most of the historic records and plans of the Onslow's work on the land have thankfully been preserved in the Clandon Park Estate Office, some have been in a large old wooden trunk for over 300 years and numerous Estate maps and drawings were found this year that had been carefully rolled up and stored over a century ago behind a very heavy ancient settle !!!! Well, we all thought it was about time for them to get an airing ! Some of these documents are being restored while others are in very fine condition. Copies of some of these rare documents will be made available to students to assist in their study. Help for your research may even be at hand from the Countess of Onslow on the day. 


Lady Onslow, fondly described as our environmental activist & archivist, intends to be on hand for most Clandon Park Field Study Days. She has a keen interest in the environment at Clandon Park and works  on a number of projects for Government bodies and companies (such as Coca Cola, Invicta Education, Marks & Spencer Plan A etc) that involves her creating innovative solutions to solve environmental problems and she works on developing International environmental policy initiatives. She has also designed the Tree Science™Dendrometers, Monitors and Quadrats that are used regularly on the Park. 


The Launch of these Clandon Park Field Study Days will take place in the Spring Term 2018. Schools that are local to Clandon Park, all  Schools in Guildford and many in Surrey will be contacted directly by our team. If your school is outside the designated area please write to the Field Study Manager in the Clandon Park Estate Office and she will arrange for an invitation to be sent to you. The Launch is by invitation only. 


Happy Field Trips ! 



Safety Notice & Fishing...

As with all field trips, the individual School, College or University  will be entirely responsible for undertaking their own risk assessments and for the Health and Safety of their supervisors and of their students. Students under the age of 18 may not attend without adequate supervision. Older students must attend with at least one supervisor. Clandon Park will require the name of each attendee and be advised if any person attending suffers from any allergies or disabilities.  


For those studying wetland environments rowing boats may be used on the lakes but life jackets must be worn at all times. 


For those who wish to have a break from field study for an hour,  a Fly Fishing Demonstration or a Fly Fishing Instructor can be organised for you. Please mention your interest in this activity at the time of booking. 


Certain equipment will be available to hire by the hour or the day (at a nominal fee  to cover cleaning and health & safety checks) It is up to each educational organisation to provide safe equipment for students use. If your organisation requires any special equipment for your trip please advise the Clandon Park Education Manager who may be able to assist you. 




Clandon Park

Clandon Park Dendrology Study

Clandon Park fully supports Kenton Rogers. MICFor., CEnv., MSc For, M.Arbor.A., FRGS,  Treeconomics and the international i-Tree project. 


Our phylosophy is such, that although we cannot open up our agricultural Parkland to the public,  this certainly does not mean we will cease supporting our main family interest, which is Education. 


Kenton Rogers is one of the Worlds leading Foresters and Dendrologists who happens to share our passion for education. During his long & distinguished career, he has evaluated commercial forestry, woodland & a great many individual trees. Kenton has equally studied the ecology and biodiversity within and surrounding these special forest environments. 


In February 2017 Kenton helped launch Tree Science™ for Invicta Education, and he has been an important contributor to the design of the Tree Science™ Dendrometers & Tree Science™ Monitors. This special Field Study equipment has been created for use by students all over the world. 


Lord Onslow has arranged for significant numbers of Sets of this equipment to be available for Field Study Groups to use at Clandon Park next year. The equipment need not be purchased and instead may be rented by the hour at a nominal rent to cover cleaning & maintenance. Full Teacher Guides will be provided to each school. 


Similarly the Tree Science™ Class Quadrats will also be available to rent  for younger pupils when required if Quadrats are not provided for students by the school. 


Clandon Park has planted 15,000 trees within the last 18 months. This is because several of the older tree plantations, which are managed sustainably as commercial forests, have been thinned recently.  The 'thinning' of a forest is the process of removing a percentage of trees. (felling a few trees to let light through the canopy and give other specimens enough space to grow as opposed to felling blocks or 'stands' of many trees in one area) The thinning is undertaken so that the forest canopy, and central stands, do not cut out too much light from the forest floor as they grow larger. This management is necessary so as to allow adequate sunlight to reach the forest floor. Sunlight is required for photosynthesis to occur. With sunlight, self seeding & other woodland plants can grow and tree saplings will thrive.  


If insufficient sunlight reaches the forest floor, it can cause a severe reduction in the species diversity within the ground cover. Without thinning, the many plant species that like the dappled shade of a healthy forest floor would slowly reduce in number and the very few single species of plants, that thrive in deep shade, would eventually take over in the dark environment. Worse still, fungal diseases that effect trees, spread very swiftly in very dark damp woodland. These diseases (that only affect trees) are the silent killers that Foresters look for every day, because identifying them as early as possible is critical to the long term health of a sustainably managed forest. 


From a food chain perspective, the many and varied species of small indigenous creatures like snails and mice, who rely on the ground cover vegetation for food & shelter,  would be adversely affected if the forest floor vegetation is affected adversely over time. If these small 'vegetarians' were to reduce in number because forest floor vegetation has changed, then this, in turn, would affect the food supply for other forest dwellers such as foxes and owls. Eventually, if a forest is allowed to become too dark, the diversity of ground cover will catastrophically reduce, saplings cannot grow & the forest floor becomes visably very different to a healthy one. As a result of poor management, a large number small creatures loose their habitat and as a consequence of this, predators, such as owls and foxes loose their prey .... so they choose to live and hunt elsewhere. 


Sustainable forestry managaement also involves Foresters being very vigilant for the signs of any disease. As a result of a dark, dank environment fungal diseases could run rampant through a forest via airborne spores or through the soil. (See Clandon Park Conservation Project TD17) There are several fungi that  invisibly rot a tree from the inside, the resulting timber becomes worthless commercially, trees become dangerous so need felling and the soil  could be so infected that the fungus is impossible to irradiate from a forest. Should this disease become endemic within a locality, it is recommended that no new trees (sometimes of certain species) should be replanted in the infected ground for several decades. 


By using the process of thinning, the trees in a forest develop to minimum commercial maturity at different times because there are always trees of different ages growing in the same stand. This form of sustainable forestry therefor prevents the need to fell a whole forest at one time. Simply put, by using sustainable forestry management for commercial forestry it means the forest is visually always present. We believe this is a good thing because forests are "the lungs of the earth". 


Importantly, sustainable forestry management creates the same, if not a better financial return per Hectare of forest over time than the old practiice of felling a whole forest in one sweep because sustainable forestry management keeps a forest healthy, productive & vital.


Several forests at Clandon Park have been thinned recently or are about to be thinned, it is a continuous procedure undertaken year on year. 

All trees of minimum commercial maturity are considered for felling and many are retained to mature further. 

There are several major sustainably managed forests positioned on the peripheral boundaries of the North, South, East and West of Clandon Park. There are several small & a few younger stands scattered within the centre. The far reaches of the Northern Sector of Forestry has been selected for educational purposes. In 2018, one of these forests will be made available for schools, colleges and Universities, for a total of 28 days for the Field Study of biodiversity, and another for 28 days of Dendrology. This will allow up to 56 educational visits every year to the far reaches of the Northern sector of forestry at Clandon Park. This will double the number of visits to the Parkland and will keep our educational activities away from the busy footpaths in the centre, the National Trust car park & Clandon House in the South East corner and the business end of the Parkland to the South West.


Various clumps of trees and coverts (groups of trees with or without underplanting) that sit isolated in open fields, have similarly been repeatedly replaced  over the last 400 years. Many  older and ancient trees which we Class as 'old friends' sadly have had to be felled where diseases such as Dutch Elm and Ustilina Deusta have ravaged the locality. Equally, in the ever increasing number of severe storms (particularly after heavy rainfall) we often loose trees have large canopies that grow on exposed areas of our Parkland. In 2018 seven of these coverts, that are now healthy and due to be replanted, will be repopulated. New plantings will continue to take place from 2018-2025 and this provides an opportunity for students to create an annual monitoring programme. These clumps or coverts,  in the central and northern sectors of the land were originally part of old hedgerows or were planted as shelter for cattle and sheep in large fields. It is these that will be replanted where disease or storms have reduced their effectiveness as shelter. Students will be able to monitor their growth year on year using Dendrology teqniques and equipment. This will hopefully become a Surrey wide project and schools will be encouraged to upload their results using our software.  

By recording and uploading these results students will be able to monitor tree growth & health on the park and inform & compare results with others who are following similar programmes. 



Clandon Park

Booking 2018 Field Study Visits to Clandon Park

Clandon Park will be launching the new Field Study Programme in 2018. This will grant the opportunity for outdoor education to study the ecology on the Estate and for students to get involved in our sustainable forestry management and dendrology. 


Head Teachers and College and University Department Heads will be invited to the Launch and should express their interest, either in advance of their visit by letter, or on the day. Details will be provided in due course. 


Prior to all Field Study Trips, schools will be provided with a Clandon Park Field Study Guide & map which informs teachers of the area of the Parkland that will be made available for their group. No two groups will be permitted to study in the same area to keep footfalls to a minimum. Schools will also be informed of a day and times when they will have the opportunity to complete their Risk Assessment Appraisal. This will be by appointment only. A Health & Safety Risk Assessment is mandatory.


Mobile lavatories and tents for lectures and talks will initially be provided. This is because we have yet to secure planning permission for permanent  facilities which we hope to achieve during 2017/18.


Coach & mini bus parking will be provided on hard standing well off The Street in West Clandon. Full parking instructions will be provided to schools with their information pack. 

Please do not park in the National Trust car park that adjoins the National Trust house Clandon House who are our neighbours. The privately owned Parkland at Clandon Park is a separate & private organisation which is not, in any way, associated with the National Trust. 


There is a qualified First Aider at Clandon Park if required and all our staff, that work around or with groups of under 18's will be, or are already currently DBS checked.