Sir Arthur Evans and the Jarn projects
Open green space is essential for our health and wellbeing, and we are delighted that more people than ever are now out and about enjoying OPT land. With our commitment to the green agenda, OPT have no car parks, so why not take a cycle ride or a long walk. Help us to keep our environment, our wildlife and you safe by considering a visit outside likely peak times. All our green spaces are open.
One man’s quest to enhance and preserve the natural beauty that is Boars Hill
Sir Arthur Evans was an English archaeologist and pioneer in the study of Aegean civilisation in the Bronze Age. He is famous for unearthing the palace of Knossos on the Greek Island of Crete. Evans lived on Boars Hill from 1894 until his death in 1941. He was passionate about protecting the area and maintaining its beauty for others to enjoy. With his support, OPT was able to buy nearly 20 acres between Jarn Way and the Ridgeway, with people donating from across the world, and Sir Arthur set about creating a Wild Garden.
Jarn Mound and Wild Garden
OPT’s Annual Report 1931/2 records that Jarn Mound was completed in 1931 taking 20 men 34 months. 50 feet high (giving it a height above sea level of 530 feet), it is topped by a pillar and topograph, acting as a lookout for people to visit and take in the extensive views across to the Berkshire and Wiltshire Downs.
Alongside, Sir Arthur created his Wild Garden, a forerunner of the Eden Project, perhaps the first of its kind, introducing different soil types, and an extensive range of British plants, all open to the public.
Today, the far-reaching views so admired by Sir Arthur Evans have been obscured by trees that have grown up on others land. The garden was changed and altered over 30 years ago to make it easier to maintain.
OPT is keen to restore the Garden, the landscape and at least some of the views. A historic assessment was commissioned and we hope to make progress on this in the next few years.
Lying between the Jarn Wild Garden and The Ridgeway, the Jarn Field formed part of the acquisition of land in the ‘Jarn Mound Area’ in 1929. It is grazed by cattle and sheep.
This important piece of land between Jarn Mound and Matthew Arnold’s Field was purchased by Sir Arthur Evans in 1931. Sir Arthur Evans placed several stone seats on Jarn Heath offering views across the landscape to the Berkshire and Wiltshire Downs. When he died in 1941, Evans bequeathed it to the Trust.
A historical map of 1876 shows Jarn Heath as open fields. Part of the area was used for allotments during the Second World War. The secondary woodland which has developed since is predominantly mixed deciduous species with some older, veteran pollarded oak trees scattered throughout. As the woodland has developed, the views have been lost.