Whitemead, Parkend – Madge a favourite mare and other animals.

The inscription on this stone which looks as though it was carved yesterday says: “Madge a favourite mare Died 20th March 1897 This is to her memory by P. & I. M. B. Let her remains rest undisturbed She was an honest and willing servant”.

Philip Baylis
Philip Baylis

The P. B. was Philip Baylis, Deputy Surveyor of the Forest of Dean from 1893 to 1906. The I.M. was Isabelle Marguerite Baylis. The Deputy Surveyor was a crown official that lived at Whitemead Park.

Philip Baylis left memorials to several of his beloved animals in the Whitemead grounds, notably Satan, Nellie Bly, Towser and Madge.

Towzer - a stone to his memory by Philip Baylis
Towzer – a stone to his memory by Philip Baylis
Monument to Satan
Monument to Satan the beloved dog of Philip Baylis

Tour guide learns from Churchdown Horticultural Society

It is not unusual for a tour guide to learn something new from the participants on a walk or talk.

So it was when a FoD guide delivered a talk to the Churchdown Horticultural Society on “A Walk in the Forest from your Armchair”. The guide was asked whether it was true that, when the new Globe Theatre was built on the southbank of the Thames in the early 1990’s, Forest of Dean Oaks were ordered by Sam Wanamaker. It is always prudent for a guide to admit ignorance and chase up the answer, which is what happened.

The guide promptly checked with another guide who had been working for the Forestry Commission at the time. Yes indeed, it was the case that Forest of Dean Oak — along with oaks from other forests — were used.

The guide got back to the contact from Churchdown and cheerfully confirmed that this was the case. The guide was relieved at the comments made by the secretary:

We had such positive feedback after your talk which was informative, entertaining and easy to follow as you spoke so clearly – even with the aging microphone system!”

Honesty is the best policy!

Paddock to Pond

A recent walk after heavy rain from storm Dennis passed a small paddock that excess water flow has temporarily converted into a pond.

Nearby rivers, the Severn and Wye have reached record levels so for the next few days it is prudent to check for flood warnings before travelling.

Pottering around

Students from a number of American universities in the mid-west states visited the Forest of Dean as part of an exploration of the Harry Potter phenomenon. J K Rowling spent many childhood years in Tutshill and was clearly influenced by that experience when she used the Forest of Dean as an important refuge for Harry and his friends when they were hiding from the forces of evil. He even found an extremely important wizard artifact in a pond in the Forest!

The students also visited London, Oxford, Edinburgh, and the Warner Brothers Harry Potter experience in Hertfordshire. The Forest, however, helped them contextualize the books.

The guides met the students who were driven from Chepstow, through Tutshill, around the Forest — stopping for a slap-up meal in the Orepool! — to Symonds Yat, via Berry Hill. At Berry Hill, the guides spoke enthusiastically about the Forest’s original Potter — the playwrite Dennis Potter — whose plays electrified the nation. After a visit to Yat Rock, the group went to New Fancy, from where they then hiked to Cannop Ponds. From Cannop they came back to stay at the most haunted building in the Forest — St. Briavel’s Castle, now a youth hostel.

They were then treated to a presentation by the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley tour guides, rounding rounding up everything they had discussed and seen.