A NEW film and poetry book have been released to celebrate the centenary of the Wytham Estate.

The joint celebration of the University of Oxford’s Wytham Woods and the Hill End Outdoor Education Centre was originally going to involve the whole community in a film screening, poetry readings and summer festivals.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hill End has released the short film online and the Wytham Estate has published a poetry book.

Lucy Crittenden from Hill End said: “We have a big family festival every year it’s called the Ffennell festival, named after the Ffennell family not the vegetable. We do it every year but this year we were going to have a bigger and better one, like everything because we were going to have a whole year of centenary celebrations.

“The plan was to screen the film and we were going to invite people who had been involved with Hill End over the years to come for a special tea party and it was going to be about looking back on the past 100 years and also forward into the future, but obviously we have not been able to do that which is such a shame.

“Hopefully, we will do it next year. We hope to just repeat a lot of the things we were going to do this year next year and have it 101 rather than 100.”

The short film explains the history of how and why the whole estate was donated to the university by the Ffennell family.

The Ffennell family had one daughter, Hazel, she loved the outdoors but died in her thirties. Her death meant Mr Ffennell did not have anyone to leave the estate to, so he gave it to the people of Oxfordshire.

The Ffennell family built the whole of the Hill End centre from scratch.

The film features footage from the 1930s, with generations of children enjoying themselves at Hill End.

Ms Crittenden said: “We think he would be very pleased with what we’ve done and the fact that it is still a wonderful resource for the kids to come out and learn about nature.

"We have come back to his way of thinking, in a way.

“He was so keen on the outdoors for wellbeing and health and to learn about nature. I think that is now more poignant than ever and people have come full circle and returned to that way of thinking in the past few years."

She added: "We just want to get back to doing it at some point. It’s going to be much needed after this coronavirus situation maybe eases a little.”

She added: “It’s particularly strange watching the film at the moment, and seeing all the children, as Hill End is obviously empty right now.

"It’s such a pity, as this is such a sunny spring, the best we’ve had in years.”

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‘The Woods of Hazel’ is the new poetry anthology about the Wytham Wood and Hill End. The poetry covers the local area and the wildlife and profits will go towards the Hill End charity.

Oxford Mail:

Ms Crittenden said: “We would have had readings and other events, but now we have it online – and we are so pleased that it is out there.”

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The Hill End film can be viewed at: hill-end.org/news/for_the_love_of_a_child/.

The poetry book, The Woods of Hazel can be purchased through the University of Oxford, online at oxforduniversitystores.co.uk