“But we can’t ignore the fact that, whether through pressures of time or physical access, as a nation we seem to be increasingly disconnected from the fabric of the country and there is a real danger of a ‘generational gap’ opening up where young people feel terrified at the prospect of going into the countryside”
Just a small hop from Petersham Meadows is the ‘peaceful respite’ of Richmond Park; well that’s how the Royal Parks describe it. Richmond Park is home to about 650 deer, roaming free with people, their dogs and horses, bicycles and even cars. The deer are wild but accustomed to sharing their home with others. The Royal Parks asks visitors to ‘Always keep a respectful distance’ from the deer.
Red Deer Stag, Richmond Park
The National Trust on the other hand considers Petersham Meadows a place of danger. Each weekend a temporary electric fence creates ‘a buffer between the cows and the public walking their dogs’.
After many seasons, Amanda, Fluffy and other members of the Petersham herd are comfortable sharing the meadows with people walking, cycling, picnicking, etc. They are mild-mannered and of good temperament with the public.
Fluffy & Amanda
When the National Trust announced that a new herd will be introduced next year the local community expressed their concerns. A group of yearlings, one cannot call them a herd, would change every year and no relationship would form between them, the public, herdsman or NT volunteers. It is difficult to see the logic for this change.
The View from Richmond Hill across Petersham Meadows to the Thames and beyond is the only view protected by Act of Parliament. In 2010 the National Trust became the custodians for the nation and received a large endowment from public and private donations.
At the public meeting in July, the National Trust was made acutely aware of the public dissatisfaction with their management of Petersham Meadows. It would appear that as the season draws to a close and the farmer prepares to move the cows to their winter home the National Trust continues to manage the meadows in complete indifference to public opinion. The current herd of cows and calves, many of which have been grazing the meadow for several years, will be replaced next year by yearlings. If dogs are going to be banned from the meadows next year, why are the cows and their calves also being banned?
For the herdsman there are always two jobs on a Monday morning. Following the installation of the ‘temporary fence’ by the National Trust the herd has been corralled every weekend this year. Come Monday morning the herd line-up and wait patiently for the herdsman to open a gap in the fence. Then while the herd slowly stroll out of the enclosure into meadow the herdsman clears away the weekend litter.
The herd waiting to reclaim the meadow
Ian the herdsman clearing away the weekend rubbish