In a small number of historic places in the Chilterns, ancient Box woodland exists as remnants of a habitat that was once more extensive. There are only three formally recognised native Box woodlands in the UK and the largest of these lies on the Chilterns escarpment near Great Kimble in Buckinghamshire. In these Box woodlands, rare lichens and insects have established niches over the centuries.
The human story around Box is equally rich. Woodlands were harvested for Box timber which is regarded by woodworkers as the best wood for engraving due to its high density. In the past, local lace-makers used bobbins made of Boxwood to produce the famous Bucks Point lace. Today, there are a handful of people working with Boxwood in and around the Chilterns. Stuart King makes decorative wooden objects, Edward Stamp creates prints by engraving Box woodblocks and Katherine Spencer plays the Boxwood clarinet.
The Chilterns Conservation Board launched the Chilterns Box Woodland Project in January 2013 to research, conserve and celebrate the area’s Box heritage. This work was made possible through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and with assistance from numerous volunteers. The funded Project came to an end in June 2015.
Volunteers, landowners and others will continue the work that was begun by the Chilterns Box Woodland Project and this website will be updated with any significant developments. There are several documents and resources freely available on this website for ongoing use, including a walk leaflet, management guidance and teaching material for primary schools. Box plants grown from Chilterns cuttings gathered in 2014 will be provided to appropriate planting schemes in the Chilterns and beyond. The Chilterns Conservation Board also encourages public events inspired by Chilterns Box heritage and continuing research into Box heritage.
For enquiries about Box in the Chilterns countryside, please contact the Chilterns Conservation Board office:
Switchboard 01844 355500