Tree planting to mark anniversary of Richmond Castle already a success as wildlife begins to colonise town's new woodland

Richmond residents born 100 years apart were among a group who planted trees for a new community woodland that honours the founding of the town.

The site of Rufus Woods in Richmond (photo: Guy Carpenter, Gullwing Photography)
The site of Rufus Woods in Richmond (photo: Guy Carpenter, Gullwing Photography)

100-year-old Henry Coatsworth and baby Thea Greig have contributed to the oak avenue at Rufus Woods, which is being established to mark the 950th anniversary of the building of Richmond Castle in 1071.

Aan Rufus of Richemont in Normandy was the town's founding father when he came to England as a close ally of William the Conqueror and was awarded lands.

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The wood named after him is taking shape on a site to the south of the old racecourse owned by the Dundas family's Zetland estate, and has been leased at a peppercorn rent.

Corbin Grant, born in 2011, plants his oak (photo: Guy Carpenter, Gullwing Photography)

The plans to plany 950 native species were delayed by the pandemic, but a ceremony involving local people born in every decade since 1921 has now taken place. A 12th oak was planted to honour the naval frigate HMS Richmond.

The Terrace care home managed to find residents born in 1921, 1931 and 1941 to take part in the planting of the oak avenue.

Project spokeswoman Jo Foster said: “The hope is that Rufus Woods grows into a space where people of all generations will come to relax, learn, play and exercise.

"It was really important for us to find a Covid-safe way to involve the community in the planting. It was fantastic to see the smiles on faces of all ages. Everyone was so proud to contribute. It really felt like something special happened here today.

Some of the residents who took part in the planting of the oak avenue (photo: Chris Houghton, Richmond Camera Club)

"We are starting to get wildlife coming into the woods now."

Ms Foster said those behind the 950th anniversary celebrations were continuing to re-invent elements of the programme to make them suitable for the pandemic restrictions, such as open-air archaeology at Richmond Castle and open-air cinema on the Zetland estate.

"It means what's going on is a bit more special in a way. The town is heaving. I've never seen so many tourists in Richmond and they're obviously not just coming for the day. So these events are getting hoovered up by people looking for stuff to do. "

The woodland will be managed by the team from Just the Job, a local charity and social enterprise offering green therapy activities for adults.

Henry Coatsworth, 100, and baby Thea Greig (photo: Jane Morris Abson, Richmond Camera Club)

The scheme's organisers are appealing for sponsors for the first 300 trees in Rufus Woods, to support the future management of the woods. For details, visit www.rufuswoods.co.uk