Surrounding Waterton Park, is Waterton’s Wall. Constructed by Charles Waterton (1782-1865) to enclose his estate from poachers and foxes, and to preserve wildfowl. Taking four years to build, the wall was over 9ft high, enclosing hundreds of acres, and effectively created the world’s first nature reserve. With guns and poaching now eradicated, wildlife thrived. During one winter, 5000 fowl were recorded on the lake, along with 123 species of birds. Waterton was famously a tee-totaller, so paid for its £10,000 construction (£650,000 today) “by the wine I do not drink!” He was also a visionary, visited on his estate by many notable thinkers of the time including Charles Darwin. With the Hall being utilised as a museum for his collection of preserved birds and animals, his estate became a huge attraction. Waterton encouraged people to visit, picnic in the grounds, and connect with nature. 18,000 visitors came in one year alone. They included lunatic asylum patients on regular therapeutic visits.
According to Sir David Attenborough, the estate “is arguably, the first tract of land anywhere in modern times to be protected, guarded and maintained as a nature reserve. It was a pioneering demonstration of how the natural world could be protected in the face of a rising tide of industrial pollution.”
Today, certain sections of the wall are sadly falling into disrepair. Being of historical interest to many members of the local community and beyond, the ‘Friends of Waterton’s Wall’ was established in 2022. The group has two main aims: to identify & preserve a section of the structure, and to promote its upkeep and story.
They have lots of projects and initiatives planned over the next few years as the wall approaches its 200 year birthday in 2026! Feel free to give their Facebook page a follow for updates, whilst further details can be found via their website here.