Wartime scrapbook of a Red Cross volunteer

In November 1913, Stephanie Hyde Parker, aged 18 years, was given a red leather bound scrapbook embossed with her initials as a gift from her parents. Stephanie decided that this would help her record the events and people she met as she went through the social whirl of the London season. However, the clouds of war were gathering over Europe and on the 4 August 1914, the tone of her scrapbook changed, as she recorded the declaration of war and the effect it had on her family and friends.

Philip Windsor, a volunteer at Melford Hall has been reading through the pages…

Stephanie Hyde Parker's scrapbook

Making her debut into polite society, Stephanie Hyde Parker was the only daughter of Sir William and Ethel, Lady Hyde Parker of Melford Hall. One can imagine, not only her excitement at the numerous dances and house parties that would require a wardrobe of new clothes; but also her trepidation – would she be popular and fit in with the other debutantes, would her dance card be filled, but most importantly, would she receive many invitations?

Within just a few months, Stephanie had spent time away at various house parties and balls, including a stay with her mother at Lordington House in Hampshire, where her sketching leads us to believe she had great fun playing roulette as well as other gambling games. It was then home for Christmas and New Year with the anticipation of many more exciting plans for 1914, starting with the Suffolk County Ball in January. However, Stephanie could never have imagined just what 1914 would have in store!

Although she continues to record the social events she experienced, they become more somber and with war always in the background. It was during this time her family and friends attend and support fundraising events for the British Red Cross. In fact, Stephanie herself joined the Red Cross’s Voluntary Aid Detachment, looking after wounded soldiers at Sudbury Belle Vue. This too is captured in the pages of her scrapbook.

Stephanie Hyde Parker's scrapbook

In 1914, 40,018 women were members of Red Cross detachments – including some famous names, such as Agatha Christie. As men were fighting on the Western Front, women performed many jobs that had been previously considered “unladylike” and unsuitable. The most prevalent occupation was working as a VAD and in many cases, women in the local neighbourhood volunteered on a part time basis.

At the outbreak of the First World War, the Red Cross had secured buildings, equipment and staff, and the organisation was able to set up temporary hospitals as soon as wounded men began to arrive home from abroad. The buildings varied widely, ranging from town halls and schools, to large and small private houses, both in the country and in cities. The most suitable ones were established as auxiliary hospitals.

Belle Vue House became one of 33 Red Cross hospitals in Suffolk during that time and was used for convalescence between 1914 and 1918. Servicemen often preferred auxiliary hospitals to military hospitals because they were not so strict, they were less crowded and the surroundings were more homely. At Belle Vue, patients returned from war were recovering from frostbite, gunshot wounds and shellshock.

She also writes in her scrapbook, the news that 4000 troops were billeted at Melford Hall and neighbouring Kentwell for a duration of 12 nights. Both gunners and infantry were part of the East Anglian Division of Royal Artillery (territorials) who were heading to Bury St Edmunds from Braintree. Soldiers on the march were still a novelty at this early stage of the war and villagers would have greeted their passage with tea and fruit. It’s said that plums seemed very refreshing at the time, although some of the men were later to regret their enthusiasm!

Stephanie Hyde Parker's scrapbook

It’s estimated that around 500 men left the west Suffolk village of Long Melford to fight in the First World War and the names of the 95 who lost their lives in the conflict are listed on the village war memorial. Just how many of this small village did Stephanie know?

We look back to this period on Sunday 17 August, when there will be a special afternoon commemorating the First World War at Melford Hall. We will be re-creating the fundraising event for the Red Cross detailed in Stephanie Hyde Parker’s scrapbook, in what will be the chance to see Red Cross nurses working hard towards the war effort and soldiers preparing to leave for the Battle Front.

Images: With the kind permission of the Estate of Stephanie Duke (née Hyde Parker).

Looking into the past through small windows

Over the past few weeks, a number of archaeological digs have taken place around the region, so we caught up with archaeologist, Angus Wainwright, to find out what’s been going on and more importantly – what did we find?

Using a trowel during a costumed recreation of the 1930s archaeological dig by Basil Brown at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.

An archaeologist’s real home is in a muddy hole. There’s nothing we like more than swinging a pick and shovel and moving a lot of soil about. The difference between us and the chaps in high–vis jackets is that we’re not looking for leaking water mains, what we’re trying to do is answer questions about the history of places. Recently National Trust archaeologists, volunteers and visitors have got together to try to solve some historical puzzles at Melford Hall, Wimpole Estate and Willington Dovecote and Stables.

The thing about these mini-digs is that you don’t always find what you’re looking for, but you usually find something unexpected.

At Willington we were trying to find a large demolished building, spotted on a geophysics survey, which we think may have been a barn. This would have been part of complex of Tudor buildings, of which only the dovecot and stables remain. This is the second year of digging and we are still going down, no building yet – but it hasn’t put us off. We’ll be back again next year.

IMG_6190At Melford Hall we were looking for the Tudor gatehouse, the position of which can be seen indicated on old estate maps. Situated in front of the house (on the existing lawn) it would have been an entrance quite fitting for the house.

We don’t know exactly what it was used for, but some gatehouses would have served as accommodation. On this occasion we found the gatehouse, but not where it should be! Some of our initial trenches last year missed the building, but after a few more test pits and digging this time round, we eventually found the walls of the building we were looking for.

Then at Wimpole, the Cambridgeshire Archaeological Group are currently digging trenches all over the park, looking for medieval villages among other things – they will be there until Sunday 3 August, so do go along to see what they’ve found. 

Wildlife thriving in the waters at Oxburgh Hall

The beautiful moated manor house of Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk relies on a network of waterways to keep the water from the River Gadder flowing into its moat. Last winter, we undertook a big project to repair the water courses to ensure that the moat no longer leaked. Now it would seem the watery habitats have recovered and are thriving.

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Photo credit: NorthEast Wildlife

This spring and summer, our Wildlife Advisor, Stuart Warrington, joined staff and volunteers to assess how well these watery habitats had recovered from the work…

OXB Gadder worksIt was quite a sight last winter, when we put in a temporary bund (which looked remarkable like a water-filled ‘bouncy castle’) to hold back the water whilst the river bed was de-silted and two new sluices and an overflow weir were installed.

We were keen to see how the wildlife in this area had responded.

 

The first positive news is that that Kingfishers are now regularly being seen by Oxburgh’s Ranger Damon Hill, perching on twigs above the river, looking down through the clear water to spot little fish.

Volunteers jumped at the chance to use the pond nets and by sweep-netting the river edges, the pond and the moat, it revealed a very good diversity of invertebrate life.

We found many species of water beetles, pond skaters, water boatmen, caddisflies, alderflies and pond snails. At least eight species of dragonflies were in flight by mid-summer including a huge abundance of the delightful Banded Demoiselle along the River Gadder, and several of Britain’s largest, the Emperor Dragonfly, hunting for smaller insects over the moat.

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Photo credit: NorthEast Wildlife

Two rather less common species were also found in the moat, the Water Stick Insect and the Lake Skater. The Lake Skater is like the familiar pond skater, but is more than twice as big, and its not often seen as it spends its life way out in deeper water.

As with many conservation projects, its two steps forward and one back, as once we had the water flowing into the moat, we realised that we had some more leaks. So, with a little more work needed this summer to re-point some of the gaps between the brickwork of the moat, it won’t be long now before the water courses will be secure and the wildlife that clearly loves the high quality watery habitats at Oxburgh, continue to thrive.

 

Volunteer’s fundraising efforts top £1 million

Norfolk volunteer David Musson has reached an incredible fundraising milestone this year, with his efforts topping the £1 million mark.

David Musson 1 - Photograph by Paul Bailey

Stamps, book collecting and bird watching have been David Musson’s hobbies since he was seven years old. As an adult he added a fourth – the National Trust. Now he has clocked up more than 50 years of working and volunteering with the National Trust.

David, who set up the second-hand bookshop at Felbrigg in 1996 and when “Blickling got jealous”, he started one there too, which is now widely recognised as the best of the National Trust’s 100 or so similar bookshops across the country. And now the stamp shop in Blickling’s old harness room, is doing its bit for the cause too.

Photo credit: Paul Bailey

David remembers his first successful fund-raising project, which was to raise £7,000 for a water supply so that staff living on Blakeney Point could revel in the luxuries of a toilet and bath. They had previously relied on barrels of water being brought over by boat!

“The National Trust has been my life and I wasn’t going to stop doing my bit because I had retired. I have always believed in the principles of the Trust. The conservation of land, countryside, buildings and gardens is very important.”

Not content with already raising so much for the Trust, David has now donated his own private stamp collection – something he has spent 70 years putting together. The collection includes some extremely rare and valuable mint commonwealth stamps, a page of which has been estimated at a value of around £3,000.

“I’m working on the next million now, I can’t rest on my laurels!” joked David.

David is offering visitors the unique opportunity to view and purchase the collection before it goes to dealers and auctioneers. The money generated by the proceeds will be spent on conservation projects in Norfolk, including the restoration of Blickling’s Walled Garden.

The Blickling Estate second-hand stamp shop is open daily from Wednesday to Sunday, from 11am to 4pm. If you’re interested in purchasing any of the expensive stamps, please arrange an appointment with David or one of his volunteer team on 01263 738019. For more ordinary stamps, please just turn up. The shop stocks stamps from all countries and all periods. And like the books, these have all been donated.

 

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of Sutton Hoo

It was in 1939 that the incredible ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon king and his treasured possessions was discovered at Sutton Hoo. 75 years on from what is thought to be one of the most important discoveries in British archaeology, a 1930s garden party will be held (26 & 27 July) to mark the anniversary.

Live interpreters at Sutton HooPhoto credit: National Trust / Fisheye Images

Visitor Operations Manager at Sutton Hoo, Ruaidhri O’Mahony, looks back and reflects on the discovery that changed our understanding of the Dark Ages…

Nobody could have guessed at the secrets held beneath the burial mounds here at Sutton Hoo. It was to become the richest burial ever uncovered in the whole of Northern Europe, and the treasures are now renowned around the world. They reveal to us that the Dark Ages were not so dark after all – this was a time of master craftsmanship, of international trade, of the establishment of early kingship and the foundations of the English people.

The dig was instigated by Edith Pretty shortly after she lost her husband Frank. She found comfort in spiritualism, and there is a story that her friend saw ghostly figures marching on the burial mounds. Edith was fascinated by ancient cultures from her early life travelling the world, and brought in self-taught archaeologist, Basil Brown to see what lay beneath the barrows.

Basil knew the Suffolk landscape well and his skill and dedication was the perfect match for the task in-hand. However, I don’t think even he could have imagined that he would uncover the fragile imprint of a 90 foot long Anglo-Saxon ship beneath the soil in this quiet corner of Suffolk.

Basil Brown (copyright British Museum)

The Ship Excavations (copyright British Museum) Photo credit: The British Museum

The acid in the soil had turned the ship to sand, so it was a delicate job to uncover what lay beneath. And the body of the warrior buried within the ship, who was later believed to be King Raedwald, had long since vanished. It very soon became clear that something extraordinary was held beneath the landscape here at Sutton Hoo – one of only three ship burials in England, it had not been plundered by grave robbers.

In July 1939, Edith Pretty held a tea party for her friends and local dignitaries, to show them some of the extraordinary discoveries that had been made during the archaeological dig on her land, revealing for the first time some of the most significant finds in the history of this country.

75 years later, we’re looking forward to celebrating the discovery of the treasures once again, with a 1930s-style garden party. The two day event will embrace the 1930s and reflects Edith’s original tea party. One of the things people are most looking forward to is a flyover by a Spitfire on Saturday. We know that a Spitfire flew overhead during Mrs Pretty’s tea party – it was a stark reminder that in 1939, as this nation was unveiling the secrets of its origins, it was also facing its greatest threat!

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Photo credit: National Trust / Jemma Finch

Many of the original finds that were discovered at Sutton Hoo back then are now housed in Room 41 at the British Museum. They were a gift to the nation from Mrs Pretty. Today, some of the original finds can still be seen at Sutton Hoo, alongside beautiful replica treasures hand-made by master craftsmen.

See them for yourself, join in the celebrations and walk through the landscape that still overlooks the river that carried the kings of East Anglia to their final resting place.

 

Sleepover at Thorington Hall

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stay in a historic gem? Well now you can. Set within a landscape timelessly evoked in John Constable’s paintings, Thorington Hall in Suffolk is not only full of charm and history – it’s the newest and largest holiday cottage to be tastefully restored and opened by the National Trust, sleeping up to 18 people (with 3 additional people in the former gate lodge)!

Thorington Hall - Exterior - 2This vast 17th century farmhouse dates back to the 1500s in parts. With a staggered roofline, ornate chimneys and walls painted in a striking colour, this timber-framed building will certainly leave a lasting impression on anyone who stays in it.

Inside, it’s full of character. The large, bright rooms are informally furnished and conceal modern facilities, yet retain the grandeur of powerful landowners who once farmed almost 1,400 acres surrounding the Hall. You can see how their changing tastes, fashions and functional use have helped to shape the house you see today.

The tall chimney for example was a sign to visitors and passers-by that this was a wealthy home. The west staircase is highly decorated and incorporates carved hearts, Tudor roses, tulips and diamonds. In fact, the high level of detail extends right up to the attic, which tells us that the attic rooms were just as important as those on the lower floors. We think that these rooms were not store rooms but a place from which to admire the garden and landscape with guests.

Thorington Hall - East Staircase - 1

Choose which staircase you’d prefer to use (there’s more than one), if you’ve got children in your party they’ll most likely want first refusal over the attic bedrooms and we’ve commissioned a large oak banqueting table and benches for the ground floor dining room, which means dining will be an experience in itself.

Thorington Hall - Dining Room - 1

You’ll find original features on display throughout the house, from the beautiful wood carvings on the staircase, remains of old graffiti on window panes and illustrated delft tiles, there’s even signs of witchcraft!

So what are the mysterious marks that link the house to witchcraft and who put them there? Photographs taken before the restoration in 1937 show a series of dark symbols most likely burnt into the attic ceiling. The newel post facing the window on the west staircase also has three linked circles carved into it. These together with a sixteenth century shoe concealed behind the plaster in the dining room, are all signs of someone trying to protect the inhabitants of the house and prevent evil spirits from entering the property. But don’t let that worry you!

Thorington Hall - West Staircase - 3

We know little of those who lived in the house before the late 1600s, when it became the home of a gentleman called Thomas May. The date and circumstances in which Thomas May acquired the house are currently being investigated, but the earliest reference to the May family living in the parish of Stoke-by-Nayland is 1607. When Thomas died in 1645, the house passed through two more generations of his family; before changing hands, size and shape several more times before it was donated to the National Trust.

Thorington Hall - Double Bedroom 2 - 1

 Photographs for this blog post are all thanks to Mike Henton

In recent years, repairs were needed and the building has undergone a complete renovation, with new plumbing, heating, bathrooms and an upgraded kitchen – all of which haven’t compromised the character of this magnificent building. So your stay will certainly be a comfortable and authentic one. And outside, the private grounds reveal a rambling garden, wild in parts, with a small apple orchard, stables and a former grass tennis court, currently being brought back into use.

So, if you’re looking for a striking house with masses of space, inside and out, for large family holidays or relaxed get-togethers with friends then this is truly it. 

 

Recreating life ‘below stairs’ at Anglesey Abbey

Can you remember the 1960s – beehive hairdos, bikinis and mini-skirts, flairs and winkle-picker shoes? The Beatles were in the charts and the England football team ruled the world! This weekend a major new visitor experience opens at Anglesey Abbey, recreating life ‘below stairs’ that will transport visitors back to this very era.

986%2F219%2FHouse_Butlers+Pantry.%28c%29KDunlap_thumb_460x0%2C0 (1)Photo credit: K Dunlap

Gareth Sandham, House and Collections Manager at Anglesey Abbey, fills us in…

Every year thousands of visitors enjoy the beautiful house and elegant contents once owned by Huttleston Broughton, the 1st Lord Fairhaven. Now visitors will be able to wander around the domestic areas of the house to experience the hard work that went on behind the scenes to maintain this Lord’s luxurious, regimented lifestyle.

The Domestic Wing has been restored back to the 1960s when it was last used as a private home. Rooms which have been restored include the Butler’s Pantry, Kitchen, Scullery, Brushing Room and Servant’s Hall, where staff used to relax when off-duty.

When Lord Fairhaven left Anglesey Abbey to the National Trust in the 1960s he said he wanted us to preserve it as it was, so people could see what his life was like. This restoration of the Domestic Wing will help us to show the other side of the coin and reveal the hard work that went on behind the scenes.

The 1960s is an interesting time period and this will be quite unlike many of the other ‘below stairs’ recreations seen elsewhere, which focus on the Victorian or pre-war periods. For many visitors it will be a trip down memory lane as they will recognise kitchen utensils and equipment that their parents or grandparents once owned.

The restoration has been part funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £82,400. Designed to be a truly interactive experience with visitors encouraged to handle artefacts – specially trained Encounters Volunteers will demonstrate butlering skills, how to prepare afternoon tea fit for a Lord, and how to hand churn Lord Fairhaven’s favourite ice creams.

SatelliteTo ensure authenticity, we have worked closely with the local community to capture the memories of former staff or their relatives, many of whom lived in nearby villages. We’re delighted to say that artifacts to dress the rooms were also donated following local appeals.

The 1ST Lord Fairhaven was a quiet, generous and wealthy bachelor. Much of his wealth came from his American grandfather who was one of the founders of Standard Oil. Lord Fairhaven purchased Anglesey Abbey in 1926, and soon set about remodelling and extending the house to provide a home for his superb and varied collections of works of art. Over the next four decades he transformed the estate into one of the great 20th century gardens.

On Saturday 28 June, we will be celebrating the opening of the Domestic Wing with a traditional 1960s village fete – complete with traditional stalls and games from yesteryear including tombola’s, guess the weight of the cake, egg & spoon races, coconut shy and space hoppers. There will be vintage vehicles and music from the 60s to get you in the swing of things. 60s dress is optional!

 

 

 

Gardening on a grand scale!

Whether it’s keeping the lawn trim, the window-box watered or the weeds at bay, those with green fingers often enjoy pottering in the garden. But when you’ve got 10 miles of box hedging to cut, 20,000 plants to plant and acres of lawn to mow – then gardening takes on a whole new challenge!

The Parterre seen in July at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire.

Photo credit: National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

We asked some of our head gardeners to down tools for a few minutes to shed some light on what they get up to in June…

At Ickworth and Wimpole, the teams start the huge task of cutting their box hedges, which when combined together, stretch for miles.

“We start this task when the risk of frost has gone, so that we don’t risk scorching the tender new growths. We also avoid cutting during very hot and sunny weather too, due to plants being susceptible to sun scorch. When doing this at home you can avoid this by spraying the foliage with water before cutting, but being aware that this should not be done when using electric hedge cutters due to the risk of electrocution!” Sean Reid, Ickworth

Gardener clipping the topiary at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire

Photo credit: National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

Then there are the formal parterres at Blickling, Wimpole and Oxburgh, which all need to be planted up if they’re going to delight visitors during the summer months.

At Oxburgh, 6,500 plants will be going in, including Heliotrope, Tegetes, and ‘Paul Crampel’ Geraniums. A further 10,000 bedding plants have been added at Wimpole, including pelargonium and salvia farinasea. Then at Blickling where the parterre was planned, set out and planted by Norah Lindsey in the 1930s the planting scheme has remained the same ever since, full of hardy perennials and grasses such as Echinops and Achillea. However, the top terrace is planted with almost 1,000 penstemons in June, the colours mimicking the soft hues of the blue beds on the lower parterre.

As well as the formal parterres, the gardeners at Anglesey Abbey will be planting amongst other things, around 2,000 Dahlias in the main garden and the Nursery Garden, ready for their Dahlia festival in September. This will include the special Anglesey Abbey bedding Dahlias, Madamme Stappers (Red) and Ella Britton (Yellow).

Gardener mowing grass at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire

Photo credit: National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

And for another top tip…

“Plant your Dahlia plants in the garden in a plastic pot no less than 3 inches below soil level, they will be as good as if they were out of the pot, but the big benefit is that when it is time to lift Dahlias for storage in the autumn, you will have a pot full of tuber that is then very easy to store. Keep the tuber in the pot which should be turned on its side, kept frost free and then re-potted or planted the following year, it will be the best tuber ever!” Richard Todd, Head Gardener, Anglesey Abbey.

And that doesn’t even take into account the acres of lawn that needs cutting! For more tips and advice of what to do in your garden this June, why not see what else our gardeners had to say?

New plant centre for Ickworth

The new plant centre at Ickworth in Suffolk is now open – complete with its own mini stumpery!

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The scaffolding and portable toilets have gone, the plants are in and what a transformation… It’s hard to miss the new plant centre and toilet block in the main car park at Ickworth and it’s already proving a hit with our visitors (or should we say relief!)

You’ll find beautiful plants that will brighten up any garden, as well as garden gifts for those green fingered gardeners in your life.

The building itself has been clad in cedar so that it will fade into the background with time. Highly insulated, with an air source heat pump (a first for the National Trust in the East), low-flush toilets, waterless urinals, plus LED lighting – the building has been carefully thought through with the environment in mind.

1392069_747261488628594_4468608075210289985_nAnd as for the landscaping in and around the new plant centre, Ickworth’s very own stumpery has been the inspiration.The Ickworth stumpery dates back to the formation of the Italianate garden by the Hervey family in the 19th century and even contains some large stones from the giants’ causeway.  The Victorian’s loved their stumperies – made up of tree stumps, often arranged upside down so that the root structure can be seen. Over the last two years the gardeners at Ickworth have expanded the stumpery so that it now covers the full length of the garden. Now there’s a mini version for visitors to enjoy too.

And what’s great, every penny you spend in the plant centre will help keep Ickworth’s gardens looking beautiful for everyone to enjoy. So do call in next time you’re visiting. 

 

Tidal surge, six months on – did the seals know it was coming?

On the evening of December 5, the coastline around our region was battered in what transpired to be a tidal surge as big as the 1953 event. Dramatic scenes faced people the next morning, revealing just how high the water had come. Six months on, we can now reflect on how things are progressing on the North Norfolk Coast. And does new data reveal that the seal colony knew the surge was coming?

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Photo credit: Geoff Peabody

Victoria Egan, Countryside Manager for the Norfolk Coast  fills us in…  

In this region, the North Norfolk Coast was one of the areas badly hit. High tides associated with low pressure and prevailing winds stripped away sand dunes, flooded buildings, roads and car parks, dumping debris on the once pristine landscape, severely affecting the fragile habitats of wildlife.

Amongst the damage and heartache for many, came a good news story, after an agonising wait for the ranger team, the seals on Blakeney National Nature Reserve had fared better than feared. However, it wasn’t until recently that analysis of data normally used to monitor visitor footfall on the reserve, revealed just how remarkable their survival was. Sensors on the ground recorded a surge of activity in the hours leading up to the storm hitting, which can only be attributed to the seals moving to higher ground. Remarkable when you think about it.

Whilst vital work continues to study the impacts on wildlife sites and many habitats will take years to recover, nature once again has proved how resilient and strong it is, and has quietly got on with the business of repairing stretches of coastline itself.

Brancaster Beach has turned into a wonderful example of how the natural world can re-balance itself. Immediately after the December tidal surge, the local community helped to clear the debris that was left in the storms wake – but it was clear that the beach’s beautiful sand dunes had been stripped away, with tonnes of sand being swept into the sea. Yet, just three months on and much of the dunes had been replaced by the same waters that had destroyed them, with sand gradually rebuilding week by week.

branc6months (1)After the storm…                           Three months on…               Six months on…

Some things have needed a little more human intervention…

With the help of the Environment Agency and local landowners, we’ve managed to reduce the salinity levels in the freshwater marshes at Blakeney, which were inundated with seawater. Salt is bad for freshwater fish and other animals living on the marshes, so by flushing salt levels in the ditches and pools on the fields with freshwater, means that we can help freshwater wildlife recover. This in turn has an impact on the birds and other wildlife which feed on them.

Due to high tides and winds we have had more salt water coming onto the site since the initial surge, so the freshwater flushing is ongoing and really important, especially as so many waders are now nesting on the site. We’ve been undertaking weekly salinity checks to understand how the site is responding. Most of the site is now freshwater, though some salt levels are still higher than we would like in some of the extremities of the ditch networks and closest to where the existing breaches remain.

We’re pleased to say that within a short space of time we witnessed a kingfisher feeding on the Freshes, and little egret and water rail were caught on the webcam – all a great sign of the resilience of nature. We can now also graze cattle on the site once more, as the salt levels decline. This is important, as the cattle help to keep the conditions on the marshes suitable for breeding waders.

But there is still a lot we don’t know – what impact has the salt had to the soil wildlife, such as earthworms on which the birds feed? How quickly will they move back to the site once conditions are suitable? This is the type of information that we need to know going forwards so that the mosaic of grass, reeds and pools can support a healthy thriving diversity of wildlife once more.

As well as the wildlife, we’ve reunited boats with owners, the ranger team have moved back into the Lifeboat House on Blakeney Point, we’ve helped other organisations repair the popular Norfolk Coast path and the 20-metre long bridge at Morston Quay, which was swept away, is in the process of being replaced. And the work isn’t over yet.

The storm on that December night in 2013 showed how coastal change can be pretty dramatic. Our coastline has been changing for millions of years and generation after generation has had to cope and live with this change. The coasts that we love are the way they are because of constant change – erosion and renewal gives the seaside a vibrancy that draws millions of us every year. With more extreme weather in the decades ahead and sea levels predicted to rise by up to 86 cm in the 21st century, planning for the huge changes ahead is vital.

The National Trust’s ‘Shifting Shores’ approach describes our approach to long-term planning, working with nature and not against it, working with coastal communities to explore ways to adapt to change and even creating new coastal habitats. We need to be able to work with that change and plan for the longer term.