Natural History Society’s centenary

Melvin Smith and Colin Page plant the oak sapling

Iden Natural History Society celebrated its 100th birthday by planting an oak tree in the place closely associated with its history. A group of members and guests met at Corkwood Farm, Iden on Sunday July 20, taking with them a young sapling which Melvin and Pam Smith had planted as an acorn five years ago.

Melvin Smith raises a celebratory glass

They chose a spot close to where a mature oak had fallen in a conservation strip next to Skinners Field – all the fields had their own names across the country before fields were enlarged to accommodate modern machinery – not the case at Corkwood.

Dorothy Beck, membership secretary writes: “We had a very enjoyable afternoon which, thankfully, was sunny but not too hot. A gathering of members were joined by former farm-owner and society member Rene Regendanz’s widow, Mechtilde, her daughters and their families. Those not able to walk over the fields were transported to the site and were able to view the ‘weedy’ fields and conservation strips which are part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Everybody enjoyed naming the abundant wildflowers; insects (grasshoppers etc), jumped all-ways as the party walked along.

The chairman, Melvin Smith, gave a short address about the society’s 100 years, mainly in the parish of Iden and then, with the assistance of Colin Page (Iden Nats secretary) went ahead with planting a fine young oak tree to mark the occasion. After photos and chatting everybody made their way back to the farmhouse where they had the unexpected treat of a superb tea provided by Tina and Ian Cook.

Thanks are due to Tina, the late Rene Regendanz’s daughter, her husband Ian and all their helpers for their hospitality and generosity.”

The Society, formed on July 16, 1919, still has in its possession the original minute books tracing its history. Corkwood Farm features largely in the Society’s history. It was once the study area of Ted Catt, local historian, artist and naturalist, who worked there for many years around the turn of the 20th century. It later belonged to Rene Regendanz, another much-loved member of the Society.

My wife and I remember visiting Rene’s little wood where the wild orchids grow, and the owl box, facing the open field, which was erected by Rene into his 80s climbing high on a ladder, much to his wife’s dismay.

The Natural History Society has played an important role in recording natural species in the area, keeping meticulous records which contribute to the national understanding of ecology. With its emphasis on direct observation, it has inspired many local people to take an interest in the natural environment around them.

Each year begins with the Breda and Ernie Burt Memorial lecture, to be given this year on October 11 by Colin Page and entitled “Out of Hours at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve”. Meetings are held generally fortnightly at the Iden Village Hall.

For further information contact Dorothy Beck email:

Image Credits: Dorothy Beck .


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