Historic Beccles lake gets some much-needed atttention
Emily DennisIt has been more than 100 years since any major work has been carried out at a lake in the grounds of one of Suffolk's finest parks. But the water feature at Sotterley Hall, near Beccles, will get some much-needed attention this summer thanks to a Natural England grant.Emily Dennis
It has been more than 100 years since any major work has been carried out at a lake in the grounds of one of Suffolk's finest parks.
But the water feature at Sotterley Hall, near Beccles, will get some much-needed attention this summer thanks to a Natural England grant.
The parkland at Sotterley is considered to be of national importance and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Created in the 18th century, its mighty pollarded oaks and sweeping landscapes give it the air of a medieval deer park.
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The lake was designed to be an important feature of the parkland and it is also of historical interest in its own right with a particularly unusual design and layout.
But now the lake is in urgent need of remedial work. With silt taking up 80pc of its volume, it has virtually stopped functioning and in the summer it dries out completely.
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The last time it had any serious attention was in 1903 when a band of Irish workers used horses and carts to de-silt it. But modern machinery should make the task considerably easier this time round.
The restoration of the lake is part of the estate's ongoing conservation work which is supported by a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement with Natural England.
Once the work has been completed not only will the lake be restored to its former glory as a stunning visual element of the park but it will also be of great benefit to wildlife.
With the silt gone, it will once again become an attractive habitat for all sorts of water-loving creatures including the greater crested newt which is already in residence elsewhere in the park.
Simon Thompson, estate manager for Sotterley Farms Partnership, which owns Sotterley Park, said: 'The HLS scheme allows us to run the environmental aspects of the estate in complete harmony with our arable farming. We are totally committed to conservation, and it allows us to do all the environmental things we want to do while still being able to run a viable arable business.'
Other important initiatives include the creation of margins around cultivated fields for wildflowers to colonise and create much-needed habitats for a wide range of wildlife.
Similarly, hedgerow restoration and management has been crucial in establishing the conditions for encouraging biodiversity while large chunks of arable land have been allowed to revert to grassland.
Kim Pearce of Natural England said: 'Sotterley Park is a fantastic example of a really well-managed estate, where the HLS scheme is helping to preserve an important part of our landscape as well as carrying out a whole raft of conservation measures.'