Supporting strong roots,growing with big ideas.
We have a young and dynamic forestry team here at Holkham.
Our team is led by our Head Forester, Harry Wakefield. Together they are responsible for 827 hectares (2,044 acres) of woodland across the estate, with 500 hectares (1,200 acres) contained within the park walls.
From corsican pines to mighty oaks
The woodland at Holkham is incredibly diverse. The majority of the woodland on the NNR is coniferous and comprises predominantly Corsican Pine, Pinus nigra, stands of varying ages. They were originally planted as a coastal defence against dune erosion from the sea and, as such, are an important landscape feature. The broadleaved woodlands are comprised of a mixture of species including native (pedunculate oak Quercus robur, beech Fagus sylvatica and ash Fraxinus excelsior) as well as exotic species (Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa, sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus and Holm Oak Quercus ilex). Holkham Hall and park are recorded as Grade I in the ‘Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England’. Within the Park are a number of Champion Trees registered on the Tree Register of the British Isles. The work of successive generations of the Coke family, assisted by eminent landscape architects, has resulted in majestic avenues and formal clumps of Holm Oak, Sweet Chestnut, lime and Corsican Pines, adding a dramatic impact to the architectural grandeur of the hall and the monuments set within the park.
Sound silvicultural practices
The forestry team carry out silvicultural practices on all the woods, with an aim to preserve and enhance the historic landscape, and to provide multiple benefits to the estate and biodiversity. This covers planting, plantation maintenance, pruning young trees, thinning, fencing work, ride management and felling mature trees.
As Head Forester, Harry, explains, ‘Trees are like humans. We need to manage them to ensure their health, wellbeing and growth. This involves thinning, felling and replanting, pruning and managing individual trees and their ecosystem.’
A brief history
Over the course of 300 years, the Earls of Leicester have created the present woodlands. Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester (by the 1st creation) and the builder of Holkham Hall, had many trees planted even before he could afford to start work on the house itself. Coke of Norfolk, 1st Earl of Leicester (by the 2nd creation) was renowned for his involvement in the Agricultural Revolution and had more than 2 million trees planted in clumps between 1781 and 1804.
The layout and design of the woodland in Holkham Park, as the visitor sees it now, is largely the creation of John Sandys, Holkham’s Head Gardener, in consultation with Coke of Norfolk. The 2nd Earl of Leicester reclaimed areas of marsh and planted the belt of Corsican Pines on the sand dunes of Holkham Beach in order to protect the land from the sea.
Well I never!
Holkham is particularly famous for its Holm Oaks which are Mediterranean in origin. It is believed that the trees were introduced to the estate thanks to the acorns which were used to pack the cases containing the 1st Earl’s collection of Roman and Greek statuary on its long journey from Italy. Each year Holkham supplies young Ilex branches to London Zoo for the giraffes to browse on.
Our professional gamekeepers carefully maintain nature and food chains across the estate, including our herd of Fallow Deer.
We’re leading the way in agriculture, farming with the future in mind.
Protecting and enhancing our ecosystems is at the core of our very purpose.