Check out the full programme for Heritage Open Days.
The closing date is fast approaching for amateur cooks whisking up a design entry for the Oswestry Heritage Bake-Off.
Aspiring bakers have until August 12 to get their heritage themed cake ideas down on paper for the first stage of judging. Three will be selected for the live bake-off which takes place at North Shropshire College in September. Fingers crossed there will be no soggy bottoms when the finalists face the heat of the kitchen in the contest to bake a literally historic masterpiece.
HOOOH Community Group is linking up with a range of partners to stage the bake-off which is being filmed as part of Oswestry’s Heritage Open Days festival (September 8 to 11).
The public will be able to see the judging of the final creations at Oswestry Castle on the Saturday of the festival. It features a cameo role for Oswestry Town Mayor, Paul Milner, who will present the winner’s trophy.
A pink carpet premiere is planned for the film, being produced by Joey Edwards of Filmage, at Oswestry’s kinokulture cinema later in the autumn.
Casting is currently underway for Oswestry’s answer to Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood who will be revealed later this month.
Entry forms and details can be downloaded from www.oldoswestryhillfort.co.uk They can also be picked up from Oswestry Library and Honeysuckle Wholefoods in Oswestry where there are post boxes for completed entries.
- CLICK TO DOWNLOAD Heritage Bake-off Entry Form
Lights, camera, cake: amateur bakers sought for Oswestry’s answer to the Great British Bake Off
Oswestry Heritage Bake-Off is destined for the ‘big screen’ as part of town’s Heritage Open Days 2016 events
Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood may well be flavour of the month again when the BBC’s Great British Bake Off returns to our TV screens this autumn. But the border town of Oswestry in North Shropshire is busy cooking up its very own version of the popular competition in which local culinary talent and heritage will take centre stage.
The HOOOH Community Group and film maker Joey Edwards of Filmage are teaming up on the community film which will document all the excitement and drama of the home-grown contest as it unfolds during Oswestry’s Heritage Open Days (September 9-11).
The organisers are calling on amateur cooks, 16 years and up, to submit their designs for a showpiece cake or bake on the theme of Oswestry heritage for the chance of going forward to the filmed bake-off. Three finalists will be selected from initial entries by a judging panel including representatives from Oswestry Country Market and Oswestry and Border History and Archaeology Group (OBHAG).
The bake-off will be hosted by North Shropshire College in the kitchens of its Oswestry campus on September 9. Judging takes place the following day at Oswestry Castle Bank where Oswestry town mayor, Paul Milner, will present the winner with the Oswestry Heritage Bake-Off trophy.
“The bake-off is intended to be a fun way to celebrate Oswestry’s heritage and make it a talking point as the town counts down to a fantastic programme of Heritage Open Days events,” says Kate Clarke of the HOOOH Community Group.
The film and its participants will then get the red carpet treatment when it is premiered at Oswestry’s independent cinema, Kinokulture, in November.
Ms Clarke added: “The Oswestry Borderlands are full of inspirational heritage, from castles and hillforts to railways and canals, and boast many inspirational figures like the war poet, Wilfred Owen. People can interpret whatever aspect of the area’s heritage they choose in their cake designs in order to impress and perhaps clinch a coveted place in the bake-off.”
The deadline for cake/bake design entries is 12 August 2016.
Full details, rules and entry forms can be downloaded from HOOOH’s website or Facebook page -https://www.facebook.com/OldOswestryHillfort or http://oldoswestryhillfort.co.uk/
They are also available from the organiser (tel: 01691 652918 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and can be picked up from Oswestry Library (Arthur Street, Oswestry) or Honeysuckle Wholefoods (Church Street, Oswestry).
~Volunteers team up with English Heritage on hillfort maintenance~
Local love for a Shropshire heritage site is being put to good use through a progressive new volunteering initiative.
Earlier this year on Valentine’s Day, residents of Oswestry on the Shropshire/Wales border congregated on Old Oswestry hillfort in a symbolic hug of protection. Now they are turning their affection into hands-on support with the monument’s maintenance under the supervision of its national guardians, English Heritage.
Members of the HOOOH Community Group, which is promoting local engagement in Old Oswestry’s future, are recruiting volunteers to help English Heritage with landscape management and monitoring. Tasks will range from scrub clearance and pond maintenance, to taking fixed-point photos and supporting environmental initiatives to aid the hillfort’s preservation and upkeep.
English Heritage is also keen to work with other local organisations including colleges with expertise and interest in undertaking potential biodiversity and animal management initiatives on the fort.
The scheme is one of just a few in England involving local volunteers in landscape maintenance combined with environmental and wildlife initiatives at an English Heritage site. It is hoped that the success of the partnering at Old Oswestry will pave the way to more volunteering of this type, especially at unstaffed and more remote properties.
English Heritage is the charitable trust which cares for over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites across the country – it became separate from Historic England, the government service championing and offering advice on heritage, in 2015. As part of its mission as a charity, English Heritage is committed to including the wider community in its work and expanding opportunities for volunteers. Currently, around 2,000 people are involved with volunteering at some 50 of its 400 sites.
HOOOH Community Group member, Neil Phillips, and heritage adviser, Tim Malim, recently met with English Heritage representatives to discuss the scope of volunteer involvement.
English Heritage has an established management plan in place for the hillfort, though recent wet summers have impacted on control of undergrowth, particularly around the ‘ponds’ or pits on the western side. New gates installed in 2015 have improved access for the landscape contractor. An additional log bench is due to be installed this year by the floating path at the western entrance.
During a tour of the hillfort, plans were discussed for clearing overgrown areas, especially bracken, with minimal disturbance to wildlife. This would include an annual cutback of willow and woody growth in the winter, and control of bracken in the summer.
A newt and ecology survey was undertaken earlier this year to help assess what additional tasks can be tackled, and when, alongside regular grounds maintenance during the next 12 months. English Heritage will be updating its landscape maintenance plan to offer a range of opportunities for volunteers, including a programme of pond clearance this autumn.
Tim Malim said: “Managing the earthworks is a complex mission, with the need to balance several conflicting interests. Uncontrolled vegetation is a threat to the monument, and one of the best methods for managing this is through grazing the ramparts. But access to water and steep slopes make this difficult without unsightly fencing being introduced.
“Another balance has to be achieved between wildlife and the historic monument. There is a need to control the rabbit population and cut down scrub undergrowth and bracken, while maintaining habitats for newts and linnets at critical times in the year.”
English Heritage West is responsible for over 135 scheduled and listed sites across a substantial area stretching from the Scilly Isles to Cheshire. The Charity is keen to involve local groups and volunteers as ‘outreach caretakers’ to undertake maintenance tasks and site monitoring.
As a first task, HOOOH volunteers have installed ‘No Bikes’ signs to deter bikers from scrambling over the 3000-year-old scheduled earthwork and causing severe erosion scars. Help is also being sought with a fixed-point photography project to document the impact of on-going maintenance work.
Before leaving, the English Heritage team visited the Artists Hugging the Hillfort exhibition at the Willow Gallery in Oswestry. With over 60 art pieces, including work by local school children, they were impressed by the local pride and strength of feeling shown for Old Oswestry.
Volunteer Neil Phillips said: “As one of many local people that have been inspired by Old Oswestry since childhood, this is a constructive and rewarding way to be more closely involved in its conservation. The HOOOH Community Group is proud to contribute through the volunteers’ initiative, following the example of the town’s archaeology and history groups, as well as the hillfort landscape improvement project, which have long championed the hillfort.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer should contact Mr Phillips in the first instance on 07751 160576.
New members are sought for a growing community group working to protect and promote one of Shropshire’s foremost heritage sites.
The HOOOH Community Group, which is networking with local stakeholders to safeguard the legacy of Old Oswestry hillfort, will be outlining current activities and inviting new members to sign up at its next meeting.
The group will also be adopting its constitution and appointing roles at the meeting which is being held on Saturday 11 June in Hermon Chapel, Oswestry, from 2pm to 4pm.
New initiatives due to be discussed include an innovative comic strip project by Llanarmon-based artist and archaeologist, John Swogger. Facilitated by HOOOH, it aims to tell the story of the hillfort and Oswestry’s heritage to inform and engage new interest from the local community.
The group, which has over 100 members, is also co-organising a number of events featured in Oswestry’s programme for Heritage Open Days (September 8 to 11).
Neil Phillips said: “Members can be as active as they like, attending meetings, providing feedback, and getting involved with planning and organising activities. If they live away or are less able to participate, we make sure they are kept up-to-date with developments and events via our members’ mailing list.”
Registration, as well as donations to support the group’s activities, can also be carried out online using the donate button on the website: www.oldoswestryfort.co.uk
A widely-praised art exhibition devoted to Old Oswestry hillfort closes this weekend with an afternoon of live performance – and an artistic tribute in icing and sponge!
The “Artists Hugging the Hillfort” (AHH!) exhibition, which has been running in the Willow Gallery, Oswestry, explores notions of ownership, nurture, identity and loss in relation to the town’s iconic hillfort and ancient land- scape.
It concludes in fitting style this Saturday (May 21) with a thought-provoking finale of improvised drama and music from 3pm.
The Intervallic Project will take visitors on a musical tour of Old Oswestry, playing a semi-improvised composition based on a “tone row” representing the letters of the word “hillfort”. Oswestry musicians Barry Edwards, Guy Turner and Neil Phillips will be creating this unique canvas of sound using a combination of electronic and acoustic instruments.
Also running with a hillfort theme, Pimp$ouls, aka father and son double act Terry and Dru Cripps, will be throwing themselves into a session of improvised comedy.
There is also the chance to win a show-stopping hillfort cake, created by Lindsay Chaplin of the Willow Eatery, in a fund-raising raffle for future hillfort initiatives. Other prizes include a number of original artworks donated by some of the exhibiting artists.
Coordinated by Llanarmon-based artist, Diana Baur, the AHH! project is aiming to explore Old Oswestry’s contribution to local distinctiveness and cultural well-being as planning pressures threaten its landscape. Housing land has been allocated in fields south-east of the fort in Shropshire’s local plan.
Over 30 artists working in the Oswestry borderlands have contributed their take on “The Stonehenge of the Iron Age” in paintings, sculpture, jewellery, textiles, photography, video and other media. The project has grown to almost 100 works since its launch at the Hillfort Hug Weekend in February in association with the HOOOH Community Group.
The hillfort collection is set to tour other areas where communities face similar heritage threats. Next stop is across the border in Aberystwyth’s Blossoms Gallery where it will be on display during June.
A group of children from Holy Trinity C of E School, Oswestry, recently visited the “Hugging the Hillfort” exhibition to view their own artwork on display.
The year 3 pupils were delighted to see their paintings framed and on show in the town’s Willow Gallery alongside some 50 other artworks celebrating Old Oswestry.
Based on aerial views of the hillfort, the paintings have formed part of curriculum learning about the Iron Age Celts. They also graced the interior of Hermon Chapel during the Hillfort Hug Weekend in February which saw two days of events expressing local affection for the hillfort, organised by the HOOOH Community Group.
Teachers described it as a “great achievement” for the school to have artwork featured in the gallery as part of the community’s creative tribute to “The Stonehenge of the Iron Age”.
It was a children’s art workshop on the hillfort last summer that sowed the seeds of the Artists Hugging the Hillfort (AHH!) project which is staging a number of exhibitions in Oswestry through 2016.
TV personality, Griff Rhys Jones, helped youngsters hand-print banners during filming for his recent ITV1 series “Griff’s Great Britain”. The episode saw Griff discover the attractions of the Shropshire borders, stopping off to admire Old Oswestry which he described as “one of Britain’s top ten archaeological sites.”
“Hugging the Hillfort” runs in The Willow until May 21 alongside co-exhibition “Plants and Pollinators”, which explores important wildlife relationships sustaining our natural world.
A community’s affection for a Shropshire landmark threatened by town expansion is the focus of an inspirational art exhibition that opens today (April 23) in Oswestry.
‘Hugging the Hillfort’, featuring work by artists from the Oswestry borderlands and further afield, explores the many facets of Old Oswestry hillfort, from neighbourhood greenspace to national heritage icon.
Residents fighting housing earmarked near the 3,000 year-old monument feel that its heritage, cultural and environmental value is not being properly recognised in local planning. Now, the much-anticipated exhibition gives a unique voice to people’s emotional connection with the hillfort’s beauty and history.
Running at Oswestry’s Willow Gallery for four weeks, more than 60 works are on show ranging from paintings, textiles and sculpture to jewellery, photography and ceramics. It also includes paintings by pupils at Oswestry’s Holy Trinity School.
A highlight of the opening day is a talk by Llanarmon-based artist and archaeologist, John Swogger, on the role artists can play in helping to make sense of archaeological sites.
The exhibition is part of the Artists Hugging the Hillfort (AHH!) project, a local art movement adding its weight to the campaign to protect Old Oswestry from inappropriate development. First work from the project was debuted in February at the Hillfort Hug Weekend organised by HOOOH hillfort community group.
AHH! spokesperson, Diana Baur, is hopeful that the exhibition will raise awareness and encourage people to reflect on what the hillfort means to them.
She said: “The project has created an exhibition of beautiful and thought-provoking works. The artists’ responses have either focused on the beauty, preciousness, history and iconic nature of the hillfort, or on the enormous threat that hangs over its setting in the future.
“The hillfort exhibition is a visual reminder of what is precious and what should be protected if our children and grandchildren are to enjoy a life enriched by their environment and their heritage.”
Tereska Shepherd’s co-running exhibition, ‘Plants and Pollinators’, also tackles themes of preservation and environmental threats and includes a stunning series of bee paintings.
AHH! artists will be making a contribution to campaign funds from sales of the artwork. Tickets are also on sale throughout the exhibition for a fund-raising raffle to be drawn on the closing day. Prizes include a spectacular hillfort-inspired cake made by Willow Eatery manager, Lindsay Chaplin.
Kate Clarke of the HOOOH Community Group said: “We are familiar with seeing heritage monuments plotted on maps by circles and antiquity symbols. But this conveys nothing of the sense of wonder you feel as you approach and experience them in the landscape they have occupied for hundreds of years.
“This exhibition will go a long way to communicating how the story and stature of these rare and enigmatic landmarks is deeply anchored in the surrounding landscape. That’s why we need to preserve the setting of Old Oswestry, a national heritage jewel.”
Not only valued as a place of escape and recreation, Old Oswestry ranks as one of Britain’s most important archaeological sites and has been described as the ‘Stonehenge of the Iron Age’.
There are plans to tour the artwork as a way of inspiring and networking ideas with other communities facing similar heritage threats.
Last December, Shropshire’s local plan was approved with a site allocation for 117 houses that would push Oswestry’s town boundary further towards the hillfort, eroding the already slender ribbon of green separating them.
‘Hugging the Hillfort’ runs at the Willow from April 23 to May 21.
Following shortly after its appearance on ITV’s ‘Griff’s Great Britain’ in February, Old Oswestry’s story is reaching a national audience once again.
The 3,000 year-old hillfort is set to feature in the next episode of BBC Radio 4’s “Open Country” being broadcast this Thursday (April 21).
While Griff’s visit made just a few minutes of screen time, BBC Radio 4 is dedicating a full half-hour programme to the hillfort rated among Britain’s top archaeological sites.
Presenter Helen Mark interviewed heritage experts and local residents, including representatives of the HOOOH Community Group, when she visited at the end of March.
In the broadcast, she discovers why the hillfort has been dubbed the “Stonehenge of the Iron Age” and how plans for housing might affect the landscape. There is also a spotlight on its use to train soldiers in trench warfare and mortar practice during World War One, and on Oswestry war hero and poet Wilfred Owen.
The programme preview goes on to say: “Helen also meets the people for whom Old Oswestry hillfort is a constant source of inspiration for both exercise and artistic endeavours.”
The Open Country programme is described as a “Countryside magazine featuring the people and wildlife that shape the landscape of the British Isles”.
For those tuning in this Thursday, the programme goes out at 3pm.
As well as being steeped in history, Old Oswestry is valued and enjoyed for its wildlife and as greenspace for walking, recreation, relaxation and giving stunning views over the surrounding landscape.
In the face of significant local and national opposition, housing development east of the hillfort was approved at the end 2015 on Shropshire Council’s SAMDev local plan. The HOOOH Community Group is continuing the legacy to protect and promote the hillfort and its landscape as the hub of the “Oswestry Heritage Gateway”.
The ink has barely dried on Shropshire’s SAMDev plan but Shropshire Council is already making changes by sacrificing housing land for commercial development.
This is the claim of Oswestry campaign group, HOOOH, which says County planners are carving up sites with little regard for neighbourhood needs or even its own adopted local plan.
The group states that a wedge of land on Oswestry’s Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE), clearly allocated in SAMDev for housing, is being sold for commercial development.
In 2013, employment land in the south-east corner of the SUE was rezoned for homes, boosting housing numbers from 750 to 900. More than compensating for this, Shropshire Council added 38 hectares of new employment land to SAMDev on sites east of Oswestry’s bypass, including the forthcoming Mile End business park.
But selling agent details for the 3.5 acres advertised on the SUE say it ‘falls within the commercial element of the Oswestry Sustainable Urban Extension’, with suitability for uses such as ‘car showroom, trade counter, leisure, offices or hotel.’
HOOOH believes that the U-turn will either mean a reduction in homes, or higher density development and less room for intended community amenities and green space.
The group is fighting widely opposed development seen as a foothold to long-term town expansion swamping the ancient landscape of Old Oswestry hillfort.
“Recent headlines have been dominated by the OSW004 hillfort estate as if the town’s housing needs hinge on this site,” said HOOOH member Neil Phillips. “But we should be asking why a start has not yet been made on the 900 homes on the SUE, an uncontentious plot agreed for major housing development by Shropshire Council as long ago as 2010.”
Campaigners claim that lead developer, J Ross Developments, appears to have prioritised its bid to build prestige country retreats at Brogyntyn Hall even though the SUE will provide a large proportion of the town’s affordable homes.
Mr Phillips said: “Shropshire Council has spent five years consulting on a local plan which we have been told delivers the required housing targets and balance of development for Oswestry to 2026. But they are already changing details approved by councillors and a government-appointed Inspector. If U-turns like these are possible, then surely the door can still remain open to reverse the planning principle for development at OSW004?”
Shropshire Council is also accused of handing other potential housing land over for ‘quick bucks’ development. At one time allocated for 24 houses in SAMDev, the new ALDI site in Shrewsbury Road saw planners controversially fast track the demolition of an 18th century Thomas Telford tollhouse.
Dr George Nash of HOOOH said: “Shropshire planners appear intent on feeding current demand for commercial land at the expense of housing. Yet at the same time they insist that Oswestry so badly needs new houses that they have no alternative than to build by the hillfort.”
It is speculated that permissions for ALDI and a LIDL store in the south of the town have contributed to the halt of the adjacent Smithfield retail development. With outline planning since 2010, the 16 acres site was due to provide up to 1,000 jobs. Campaigners say it is tying up precious brownfield land which could be considered for alternative opportunities including houses.
Dr Nash added: “The government is urging local authorities to develop brownfield ahead of greenfield sites. Not only is OSW004 good grade agricultural land, it also lies within the most historically significant quadrant of a nationally important heritage site.
Mr Phillips said: “The authorities are quick to point to the housing crisis to justify building within the hillfort’s setting and Oswestry’s heritage gateway. Yet just up the road, acres of housing land at the SUE are still untouched.
“People just want a fair and transparent approach to the town’s development, but are seeing only inconsistency and too much decision-making behind closed doors.”
HOOOH recently held a public meeting to update residents on the hillfort campaign and discuss future action. It used the event to launch a membership initiative to harness growing community support.
A public exhibition in Oswestry this Thursday (10 March) concerning the SUE has just been announced.