Winkworth Arboretum

The 18th October saw our second autumn talk given in Quinnettes barn by Dr Peter Herring about Winkworth Arboretum – its trees and history.
Dr Herring has been a volunteer at Winkworth – the National Trust’s only arboretum – for many years and was a fund of information as well as showing some beautiful colour photographs.
Winkworth is the result of one man’s vision and passion – Dr Wilfred Fox – who bought the wooded valley and its two lakes in 1937 to use as a canvas for planting trees to “paint a picture”. Fox was Chairman of The Roads Beautifying Association and for 15 years, together with such well-known horticultural giants as Hillyer and Nottcutt, used Winkworth to experiment with different tree species and planting styles.
Fox had served in WW1 and in 1939, aged 63, he went to France with 2 ambulances to give his medical skills to the war effort, returning from Dunkirk.
Meanwhile at Winkworth, plantations were cleared for the war effort and Canadian troops practised dinghy exercises on the lakes.
After the war Fox began planting in earnest with help from Harold Hillyer and Madeleine Spitter using native trees but with plenty of space for more “exotic” choices between – eg the famous Azalea Glade (now stepped).
In 1952 Fox gave 65 acres of the arboretum to the National Trust and a further 35 acres in 1957 to be run by a Management Committee chaired by Fox and with members from the National Trust and The Royal Horticultural Society represented.
However money was short and more paid ground staff were required as the trees grew and so entrance charges were started. This proved very unpopular locally as over many decades the public had enjoyed free access to what was fondly known as “Dr Fox’s Woods”. Indeed several of us at the talk could remember being taken as children and swimming in the lake!! Dr Fox died in 1962 aged 87 and is buried in Eashing cemetery. He has left a wonderful legacy and the arboretum is a delight to visit at any time of year but undoubtedly spring and autumn are the best and preferably in the morning as the site faces east: to be recommended.