Butterflies Find Solace With Shakespeare
by Katie Callaghan
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A family farm where William Shakespeare's mother grew up is set to become a home for rare butterflies, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation can reveal.
It is hoped that both the Dingy and Grizzled Skipper will be attracted to a specially built 'butterfly bank' created at Mary Arden's Farm near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
Mike Slater from Butterfly Conservation's Warwickshire Branch helped oversee the project. He said: "A butterfly bank is basically an open, sunny area of raised ground with very limited vegetation on it and lots of rocks. These semi-bare patches of ground provide a microclimate up to 20 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding area, which encourages the faster hatching of butterfly eggs and rapid growth of caterpillars.
"It's really about creating some extra habitat for these beautiful insects. Not only will this bank improve connectivity between other butterfly sites, it will be a place for them to breed, rest and feed."
The bank will only require occasional weeding and Mike is hoping it will attract the rare skippers next summer. He explains: "Both of these butterflies are declining in numbers, but I've seen similar initiatives like this work really well in attracting rare species from nearby sites, with some even deciding to colonise the new habitat.
"If this doesn't happen and we don't get the Skippers, I would at least expect to see species like the Common Blue and Small Copper using the butterfly bank next year."
Mary Arden's Farm is one of the five Shakespeare family homes cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Recently awarded Best Farm Visit at the 2014 Organic Awards, it is run as a working Tudor farm where visitors can experience the sights, smells and sounds of rural life as Shakespeare would have known it.
Butterflies would have formed a part of those early experiences for Shakespeare, who often referred to them in his plays. In Coriolanus - a tragedy he wrote between 1605 and 1608 - he spoke of 'a very pretty boy. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly...' and again in King Lear, when the doomed King explains his wish to 'laugh at gilded butterflies'.
The creation a 'butterfly bank' at his mother's childhood home was decided upon following extensive conservation work to restore a barn on the site.
Manager of Mary Arden's Farm, Joe Moore, explains: "We had tonnes of soil and rubble left over from the excavation of the barn. Using the excess materials to create the bank was a great way of improving the environment, as well as cutting down on expensive landfill costs. It was completed around three months ago now and we're all excited to see what butterflies it will bring here next year."
Mary Arden's Farm is located in the village of Wilmcote, about three miles from Stratford-upon-Avon and it reflects life in the 16th century, specifically 1573. The working farm has been managed organically for the past 12 years and is a haven for rare breed livestock and wildlife alike, including Mangalitza and Tamworth pigs, Guernsey goats and birds of prey, including the Hooded Vulture. Costumed period interpreters bring the farm to life, where visitors can get hands-on with rural crafts and traditional Tudor pastimes. They also run award-winning education programmes for schoolchildren and have recently become a Care Farm centre.
Find out how to build your own butterfly bank by visiting the Butterfly Conservation website www.butterfly-conservation.org
For further pictures or interviews, please contact Katie Callaghan at the Butterfly Conservation Press Office on 01929 406037, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is an independent charity that cares for the world's greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare's works, life and times all over the world. The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world's largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no public subsidy or direct revenue funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends. For more information, visit www.shakespeare.org.uk
Butterfly Conservation is the largest charity of its type in the world. Our aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. We run conservation programmes for more than 100 threatened species and manage over 30 nature reserves.
Image 1 - Mary Arden's Farm - Palmer's Cottage Copyright 2014 Amy Murrell Photography
Image 2 - The Butterfly Bank Copyright 2014 Amy Murrell Photography
If you have any questions or require more information about this press release, please contact Katie Callaghan by email.