Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 10.30AM to 5PM & Bank Holidays

Press Opportunity – on 27 April at 10.30am at Gilbert White’s House, Selborne

Press Opportunity – on 27 April at 10.30am
at Gilbert White’s House, Selborne (The Wakes Field)

The start of the long-awaited Great Gilbert White Walk from Selborne to Oxford (a walk in the footsteps of pioneering naturalist Gilbert White) – all journalists welcome to help give Rosemary Irwin a great send-off!

At 10.30 am from The Wakes Field (with the stunning backdrop of Gilbert White’s former home, The Wakes, now the Gilbert White’s and the Oates Collections), Rosemary Irwin, chairman of the trustees of the Museum and brainchild and organiser of this walk, will be setting off for Oxford.

There will be a photo opportunity and chance to interview Rosemary and others. On the day she will be accompanied by Bryan Oates (great nephew of Captain Oates, celebrated alongside Gilbert White at the Museum), who will lead a grey pony, dressed as Captain Oates. Ronnie Davidson Houston will also be in costume as Gilbert White, riding a pony (we think Gilbert travelled to Oxford on horseback as he got travel sick in a carriage!). Clare Francis, author and herself an explorer as a single-handed yachtswoman, will be coming at the invitation of Bryan Oates.

Over 80 people have so far signed up to walk in the footsteps of the great pioneering eighteenth century naturalist and writer, Gilbert White. Rosemary will be tackling the 74-mile journey which Gilbert regularly took during his days as fellow of Oriel College.

Says Rosemary; ‘This walk is all about making Gilbert White’s huge contribution to natural history and science better known, and to raise money to help us renovate the museum so that we can continue to fascinate lovers of the English landscape and nature for years to come’.

Further information: If you’d like to attend please let me know. Do also let me know if you’d like an interview with Rosemary or any of the above. Contact Kimberley James (01420 511275 ex 20)

Background information: The Reverend Gilbert White was a naturalist, scientist, writer, gardener, clergyman and countryman. His delightful book about the nature and countryside surrounding his beloved village in the South Downs – “The Natural History of Selborne” (1789) – is one of the most popular books in the English language and has never been out of print. ‘Gilbert White’s book, more than any other, has shaped our everyday view of the relations between humans and nature.’ says Richard Mabey, naturalist and White’s biographer.

Rosemary is hoping that, through her long walk from the Hampshire corner of the South Downs to Oxford, Gilbert White will get the attention he justly deserves. Says Rosemary;‘How many people know that he was a great man, a scientist, a writer of genius, a lover of nature and gardens, someone who could classify ‘little brown birds’ by their songs into different species, had a delightful sense of humour and cared deeply about the poor? He is considered to be ‘the father of ecology’ because of his ground-breaking discoveries through the study of weather, plants and ‘wild things’ Even Charles Darwin claimed that he stood on the shoulders of White and made a pilgrimage to Selborne in 1857.’

White is famous for the way he studied – making minute observations over a long period from his garden as well as from his walks and rides in the countryside near his home, noticing things – like the fact that owls hoot in B flat! Says Simon Barnes, writing in The Times (1 June 2013) ‘(White) invented three entire sciences: ecology, ethology and phenology (the study of recurring seasonal events) which is of immense relevance now, as climate change has become one of the most pressing issues facing the planet ….he saw the connections and the connectedness. He understood the way it all fits together.”

The route:
Day 1: 8 miles (Selborne – Shalden)
Day 2: 9 miles (Shalden – Newnham)
Day 3: 9 miles (Newnham – Beech Hill)
Day 4: 8 miles (Beech Hill – Sulhamstead)
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 11 miles (Sulhamstead – Goring)
Day 7: 12 miles (Goring – Dorchester)
Day 8: 9 miles (Dorchester – Abingdon)
Day 9: 9 miles (Abingdon – Oxford)

About the Museum: Gilbert White & the Oates Collections is an Independent Charitable Trust and Accredited Museum, Reg Charity No. 307098. “The Natural History of Selborne,” published by the Reverend Gilbert White in 1789, has been described as “the first serious work on ecology”, and is one of a handful of books that have never been out of print since publication, along with the Bible, the works of William Shakespeare & Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Gilbert White was a pathfinder at the birth of ecology. He pointed the way to the organised study of the natural world which is a vital weapon in our ability to monitor, measure and understand what is happening to our planet. The Scott Expedition of 1912 – commemorated in our exhibition to Captain Oates – laid the scientific foundation for modern climate studies based on understanding the Antarctic.