First of all... Why an Anglo-Saxon village at an animal sanctuary? At Brockswood, our mission is not only to care for animals in need, but to educate too. While our work sees us teaching about animal care, wildlife conservation, beekeeping etc; we are also aware of the importance of other subject areas, and one very dear to our hearts is local history.
Many of you will know of the different incarnations of 'Cotwall End', but what if you looked back not 20 or 30 years, but well over a thousand years! To the Age of Penda when this land in the kingdom of Mercia (the Midlands) was a settlement for our Saxon ancestors. With Generfeld - literally "Sanctuary Field", we hoped to give you a snapshot in time; showing you how some of these fascinating people lived and worked. The Age of Penda group are all volunteers – they do this in-between their day jobs. Penda is a fantastic opportunity for like-minded people to learn new crafts and skills, discover some of our history, and build new friendships. They have also recently joined forces with one of Dudley College’s Foundation Land Based Learning groups, enabling local students to have a hand in this unique venture. To say that a lot of time and work has gone into this would be an understatement. It has been years in the making and was really starting to take shape. We were so excited to show you what we had achieved together! Instead, we have to tell you about the firefighters called out on Saturday night, and several buildings torched by thoughtless intruders.
Thankfully we had very recently moved our group of senior sheep that had been grazing in this paddock, and we can assure you that all our animals are completely unharmed. We just wish that we could say the same for Generfeld.
This comes after the group had items stolen last year, including a blacksmith’s anvil, and previous intentional damage.
This is sadly the sort of thing that we are having to fight, alongside trying to restore and improve the site, and caring for the animals. The last few months have seen old pipes falling apart, causing flooding in paddocks and costing both countless hours of our time and funds spent that we had earmarked for rebuilding enclosures.
The buildings that were burned have taken months of hard work to complete and has left us feeling more than a little deflated after so much effort. Built in the Saxon style, complete with turfed roof (which our sheep were quite fond of playing on and mowing). The items inside have also been destroyed, including various pieces of replica historical items, and tools.
When we took over this site, we knew that we had our work cut out for us....
We knew that this would be continuous hard work and a real labour of love.
We knew that it would mean long hours, long weeks, and little sleep; sometimes leaving us aching, stressed, and very tired.
We knew that this would never make us rich in anything but the knowledge that we are doing something GOOD.
What we didn’t bank on, was the people that would stand in our way.
These are setbacks not only to Brockswood, but a huge dent in the morale of those working so hard here. The unseen hours spent every day, trying to not only provide the best care for these animals, but to make our and your vision of Brockswood become real.
We have said for many years that we are trying to restore the site to its “former glory”. We want MORE than this. We want it to become even better than that. We want you to be proud of this little Oasis in the Black Country. We want to make a big impact for not only our animals and the many more that need us, but our local community (and others beyond!)
We can’t do this without help, and we most definitely cannot achieve this if we are persistently knocked back down whenever we pick ourselves up.
We’d like to say a big thank you to the locals who have inquired after the safety of us and our animals after seeing the smoke and fire engine – and a very big thank you to the fast response of the Fire Service, who do such a wonderful job! Thank you to all who have offered support, and to those who have supported us from the very beginning. We need you!