Events to honour naturalist Charles Waterton 150 years on since his death

The eccentric Charles Waterton painted by Charles Wilson Peel, now  hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. Note his "crew cut" at a  time when the fashion was for long hair piled up high and brushed  forward.

The eccentric Charles Waterton painted by Charles Wilson Peel, now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. Note his "crew cut" at a time when the fashion was for long hair piled up high and brushed forward.

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World famous naturalist Charles Waterton will be honoured with a series of events to mark the 150th anniversary of his death.

The conservationist’s life will be celebrated with the launch of a Nightingale Chorus - created using recordings of songbirds - which will be broadcast throughout June at a number of places across the city, including Wakefield Cathedral, Eye Wood, Sun Lane Leisure Centre, Wakefield Market and Sandal Castle Visitor Centre.

Charles Waterton travelled around the world collecting specimens of wild creatures and created what is believed to be the world’s first nature reserve at his home and private estate at Walton Hall.

Sir David Attenborough recently backed calls to have the Walton Hall estate recognised for its cultural importance by the United Nations. The broadcaster said he hoped the estate would be made a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Campaigners believe UNESCO status would prevent the government from running a high-speed railway line through the site as part of the HS2 rail project.

The 250-acre Walton site includes picturesque parkland, the moated Walton Hall and Waterton Park Hotel. If approved, the HS2 route from London to Leeds would pass directly through Walton Hall park.

The Nightingale Chorus commemorates the last entry in Mr Waterton’s notebook, which read “May 2nd 1865. On this night at 11 o’clock two nightingales were singing melodiously in the Park at Walton Hall.”

Other events to mark the anniversary of his death include an exhibition at Wakefield Museum - which is home to many of Mr Waterton’s specimens - from May 17 and artist commissions, workshops and walks at Waterton Countryside Discovery and Anglers Country Park.

Coun Les Shaw, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “Charles Waterton was an inspirational person and I’d encourage people to get involved in the events in this anniversary year.”

Visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/nightingale for more information.