Moccas

Moccas Court, Moccas, Herefordshire, HR2 9LH
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Overview

Capability Brown at Moccas

The Cornewall family owned Moccas from the C17th. Catherine Cornewall (1752-1835), sole heir of Velters Cornewall MP, married Sir George Amyand in 1771. Under the terms of Catherine's late father's will, Sir George, a banker, merchant and briefly an MP, took the name Cornewall. He undertook a wide-ranging programme of improvements on the Moccas estate, including significantly expending its acreage. He commissioned Lancelot Brown to plan improvements to the landscape in 1778, and in the 1790s sought advice from Humphrey Repton on additional improvements. Brown was paid £100 pounds for a plan in 1778, a sum worth around £152,300 today.

Moccas was much admired in the late C18th and early C19th; Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price were friends of the family. Other visitors included noted landscape architects, designers and artists such as  William Sawrey Gilpin, Thomas Hearne, and J C Loudon. (All links to Wikipedia)

Sir George continued improving Moccas until his death in 1819. Subsequently there were very few changes to the landscape, although a period of neglect in the earlier C20 necessitated considerable restoration works in the mid C20.

Brown's plan "the Intended alterations at Moccas Court, L.B., 1778" survives in the collection of The Getty Research Institute.

The designed landscape at Moccas overlays a much older wood pasture landscape. The name ‘Moccas’ is thought to be derived from the Welsh words for pig "mochyn" and moor or heathland "rhos".

Moccas today

Moccas Hill Wood in Herefordshire is part of the Moccas Park National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Moccas Park Registered Park and Garden (RPG). The site is owned by the Woodland Trust and leased to Natural England for the purposes of restoring the site from conifer plantation to parkland as it was in the 17th and 18th Century for its wood pasture and parkland habitat.

Moccas Park is a designed landscape significantly influenced by Capability Brown who visited Moccas and produced plans for the development of the estate. The restoration plan for Moccas Hill Wood was informed by the Capability Brown Design Ideas Competition; the first such competition that Natural England has run with the Landscape Institute. The design competition challenged entrants to provide contemporary design ideas for the site inspired by Capability Brown and what he might have designed were he alive today.

Moccas Hill Wood also provides an ideal site for studying the restoration of wood pasture habitats and rates of colonisation by associated species and as a site to demonstrate wood pasture restoration in practice.

Moccas Park National Nature Reserve in Herefordshire contains one of the most impressive collections of ancient trees in England. The deer park also supports a vast assemblage of over 2000 species of beetles, flies and other invertebrates which thrive in the decaying wood at the heart of the ancient trees. The 45 hectares of the adjacent Moccas Hill Wood was once part of the deer park and is included in the historic Registered Park and Garden of Moccas Park. Over the last few years the site has re-emerged as the conifer plantation which has covered the hill since the 1950s has been felled, opening up sublime views of the River Wye and the Golden Valley with the Black Mountains beyond.

Officially opened on 21 May 2016, this site is leased to Natural England who manage it in conjunction with their adjoining Moccas Park. There is a small car park at the entrance. Dogs must be kept on leads as there are grazing animals on site.

Biodiversity at Moccas

At Moccas the parkland features support a variety of habitats including wood pasture and parkland, ancient woodland, deciduous woodland and wetland habitats associated with the pool and river. Moccas is well known for its nationally significant collection of veteran trees and deadwood habitat and species conserved within the former medieval deer park and now containing Moccas Park Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is also a National Nature Reserve (NNR).  It is important for a wide range of fungi, lichens and invertebrates including 30 national rarities and locally common, nationally rare species such as the Moccas beetle and Western Wood-vase Hoverfly. The park is one of the most important sites in Herefordshire for breeding birds, with buzzard and raven regularly nesting, and hobby occasionally present and supports all of the UK bat species.  Part of the site includes the River Wye SSSI.

Sources

Follow this link for more information on habitats and species supported by Brown landscapes  www.capabilitybrown.org/biodiversity-and-natural-environment

Follow this link for more information on Moccas Park SSSI https://necmsi.esdm.co.uk/PDFsForWeb/Citation/1002723.pdf

Follow this link for more information on Moccas Park NNR https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/herefordshires-national-nature-reserves/herefords-national-nature-reserves#moccas-park#

Follow this link for more information of River Wye SSSI https://necmsi.esdm.co.uk/PDFsForWeb/Citation/1006327.pdf

https://www.landscapeinstitute.org/PDF/Contribute/Moccas-anEnglishDeerPark.pdf

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000891

Dorothy Stroud