Rufus Deakin: Life at Walnut Tree Farm



Aterlog the love of the landscape around was key to the creation of Common Ground and because of his work in the environmental business meant that he had a light touch on the land around his homeThis book is a wonderful celebration of Deakin s life and works seen through the prism of the place that he made his home The photos of the work of the strip down restoration and rebuilding of Walnut Tree Farm as it progressed and the extracts from the notebooks and diaries as the works were progressing really make this book special Most of these have never been seen before The personal insight from Deakin s son Rufus and the current custodian Titus Rowlandson add depth to the story of his life Deakin was intrinsically linked to this place and in its time it became a place of pilgrimage to lovers of the natural world and still holds a place in their hearts If ou have ever read Waterlog Wildwood or Notes from Walnut Tree Farm then this in one for our bookshelf. G and gave impetus to the wild swimming movement Rufus Deakin and Titus Rowlandson offer a beautifully illustrated and designed record of the development of Deakin’s rural paradise centred on a series of photographs taken by Roger Deakin himself which record both the rebuilding of Walnut Tree Farm the uniue character of a remarkable building and the seasonal cycle of nature in the land and countryside that surround.

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Deep in the countryside of northern SuffolkThis building was to change Deakin s life and be the seed for books that would become classics in the natural history genre Before that he had to get the structure to a point where it was safe and he could start living in it It involved stripping the entire building back to the oak frame repairing and replacing wood to add strength back into it and rebuilding it to a habitable home As with all projects like this it took much longer than expected but when finished it became a much loved home until he died in 2006 alongside the fireWhere it was located was one of the largest common grazing areas in the UK at the time Deakin slowly changed the landscape planting trees draining and clearing the moat and letting the land be used in a sustainable way He had the odd run in with neighbours in particular over Cowpasture Lane but this place was to motivate him in many ways His regular swims in the moat became the book And’ fervour; and in the coming decades lovingly restored it Deakin lived here until his death in 2006 dredging the moat in which he swam daily planting woods and buying of the surrounding fields where he grew hay and wild flowers Walnut Tree Farm became a place of pilgrimage and inspiration for nature lovers writers intellectuals and artists while Deakin’s Waterlog has become a much loved classic of nature writin.

Very pleasant account of the refurbishment of a rural farmhouse of a social history piece What a pleasure to read I love Roger Deakins book about his life at Walnut Tree Farm and this brought it all to life with photos from his early ears there plus his notes and diaries from that time So lovely to see the current owners continuing his legacy I m sure he would be so happy A privilege to share such personal memories a big thank ou to the authors including Rogers son Rufus Almost half a century ago Roger Deakin had made the decision to move out of London and bought a very dilapidated farmhouse called Walnut Tree Farm If it had been left any longer it would have become a ruin the wood had rotted through in a lot of places and the thatch was so bad it had no protection against the elements To add to the charm the downstairs had been used to keep animal in and was full of their detritus This Elizabethan building was located on the edge of Mellis Green. In 1970 Roger Deakin acuired Walnut Tree Farm a semi ruined Elizabethan farmhouse deep in the countryside of northern Suffolk on the edge of Mellis Green the largest area of common grazing land in England The house’s thatch and roof beams were rotting; pigs and hens had been its last occupants and the floors were ankle deep in shit Leaving swinging London behind Deakin bought the farm in a spirit of ‘back to the

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