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.
The European Boxwood and Topiary Society (EBTS) is devoted to encouraging the appreciation, cultivation and knowledge of Boxwood and Topiary and to further extend both historic and scientific research in the subject. Its aims are to encourage, improve and extend the cultivation of boxwood and to disseminate knowledge of boxwood and topiary, in all its forms, by means of publications, promotions, exhibitions, scientific research, European co-operation and exchange, conferences and visits, various meetings and other appropriate activities.
You can find out more about the EBTS on their website: https://ebts.org/uk/
For enquiries about Box in the Chilterns countryside, please contact the Chilterns Conservation Board office:
Switchboard 01844 355500
Box tree moth threat - July 2019
Rare box woods under threat - April 2016
Lottery grant to conserve rare woodland - October 2012