Annual Reviews

Each year we now produce an 'Annual Review' for Friends and Members, which incorporates a summary of our formal Year-end Report, plus what we hope are some interesting highlights of the year in question.

The previous few Annual Reviews can be downloaded here:

2018 Annual Review

2017 Annual Review

2016 Annual Review

2015 Annual Review

2014 Annual Review

2013 Annual Review

Members and Friends are sent these annual reviews as soon as they are produced each summer, and have an opportunity to attend our AGM each October and raise any issues.

If you would like to become a Friend, you can read more on our Join Us page, and then complete the application form.

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News from the Down prev  :  next

A new Copse to mark 25th Anniversary

Barnes Copse was planted this spring on Magog Down. The name acknowledges the part played by Joan Barnes and her husband Ray, at the outset of The Magog Trust, the company formed to purchase 163.5 acres, on the Gog Magog Hills, now known as Magog Down. 

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The 25th anniversary of this purchase was celebrated on 28th September, with a gathering of Friends, Members and guests, in The Granary.  Niki Williamson, from the RSPB, and Philip Oswald, gave talks reflecting the status the land has reached with talks on Birds in the Agricultural Environment and Chalk Grassland. For, although Magog Down is now an area widely used for recreation from walking, with or without dogs, to running and kite flying it is also an area of conservation to which have returned birds, mammals, insects, flowers in an environment of new woods, hedges and grassland.

How it began

The agricultural land was advertised for sale at Easter 1989 for £327,000; it was the inspiration of Colin Davison, Vicar of St Andrew’s and Christopher South, journalist and broadcaster, to seize the opportunitgog_certificate_180y and suggest its purchase to make the land available to the public of Cambridgeshire. With the support of that public, who purchased 3,000 ‘gogs’ - nominal parcels of land - along with grants from local councils, including one for £90,000 thanks in part to Harold Holt, SCDC councillor and head of Stapleford Community School, donations from businesses and, moreover, support and enthusiasm, the purchase went ahead following a last minute interest free loan from Edmund Vestey of £100,000. Downland Fairs, Teddy Bears’ Picnics, Plant Fairs and other fund raising events followed.

Such a scheme, for conservation and recreation, was innovative and there have been trials and tribulations along the way.  Initial tree planting was to furnish an income from the sale of wood for poles, and then the bottom went out of the market.  Eric Winterflood, a retired forester, masterminded the land management scheme when no-one was aware that, in the midst of the site, was an ancient Neolithic causewayed enclosure.  The area was originally heathland where sheep grazed and pasque flowers grew before agriculture started in 1894. A report by the Wildlife Trust and advice from the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology resulted in seeding 72 acres with typical native grasses and flowers to re-create chalk grassland habitat. 

Progress and Plaudits

Years on, following the first goals of creating 6 woods with over 26,000 trees and shrubs and the two grass Downs, plaudits have been earned for what has been achieved.  In June 1998, a visit from the BBC Country File team; Prof Stephen Hawking and his entourage officially opened the disabled access; a further reward came with the Highly Commended Certificate in the Woodlands and Plantation Competition, Royal Agricultural Society of England.

As farmers, the company entered agri-environment schemes to create income through grants, for raising crops, planting and maintaining hedges, paddocks and woods. The costs of managing public access require the provision of a ranger service keeping paths cut, hedges trimmed, gates and fences maintained and costs are high.

We estimate that 60,000 or so visits are made each year to Magog Down to enjoy this corner of Stapleford countryside which has grown into a green and flourishing jewel of the village; it needs to be cherished for future generations.


1st November 2014

Old Newsletters

Up until 2011 we produced a twice-yearly Newsletter, and you can still download copies of some of these here:

pdf_logo_smallSpring/Summer 2011

pdf_logo_smallAutumn/Winter 2010

Spring 2010

Autumn/Winter 2009

Spring 2009

In 2011 the re-designed website was launched, and so the decision was taken to stop producing these Newsletters, and instead to use this website as the main means of communication for news and articles of interest.

This move away from a regular Newsletter meant that more of the Members' and Friends' subscriptions could be spent directly on the costs of upkeep and husbandry on the Down.

We would love every regular visitor to Magog Down to help support its upkeep by becoming a Friend. Read more on our Join Us page, and then complete the application form.