Marianne North; a Vision of Eden…

This is an update on a blog I wrote in the spring, about the Head teacher of Hastings Sacred Heart Catholic School, Joseph Hellet, and how he destroyed parts of a conservation area without proper consultation.

The famous botanical artist Marianne North lived here in the mid 19th century and wrote a book called a Vision of Eden. Up till a little while ago, many of the trees she planted here were still standing and her former garden is part of a Conservation area.  These last few days her Eden has taken a further knock; the chainsaws have been ringing throughout the Conservation area, and the valley has been thick with smoke.

I  don’t know if the rare Turtle doves that used to live in this area will now move away for good.

DSCF4126_editedThis was taken around ten o’clock this morning…The residents of the Laurel’s nursing home have been covered in smoke all day…

This afternoon, I went to see what remained of the Turtle dove’s habitat and take some photographs of the site

I managed to snap this one before I was manhandled by the headmaster, Joe Hellet.
His involvement shocked me, as he had promised only a few month’s ago to consult the neighbours before he cut down any further trees. I asked him if he had forgotten his pledge to consult the neighbours and he replied that I wasn’t a neighbour! I made the comment that that was hardly a very Christian point of view and that I do actually live across the road from the school.

He said I wasn’t allowed to take photos, and he tried to grab my camera. Why, I asked, what was the problem if  he had permission from the Council? Why did he not want the tree to be photographed?

Do you recognize this hand!


Grappling with my camera…you can see my face mirrored in the Headmaster’s mobile phone


Joe Hellet pushed me about a bit, and I asked him to call the police, but he refused. He said I should call the police, but I  hadn’t brought my mobile . I said that I would be happy to leave the school area, but I was concerned that he was cutting down trees without the proper Council permissions and I wanted him to call the police to get the matter investigated.
He said that I was crazy and mad, and as he pushed me towards the exit I certainly must have looked demented! I was screaming ‘help, help, call the police! Someone call the police!’


DSCF4145_editedMeanwhile these guys, who were previously busy half way up the tree with their chainsaws, filmed the spectacle on their mobile phones….I just hope they caught my best profile…
You can just about see the head teacher’s head in the top right corner and his arm as he is pushing me. There were four men against one woman. All jeering.

And as I came home, I called the police myself . And then I watched another pyre darken the sky. I wonder why he was in such
a hurry to burn the trees before they could be investigated by an independent tree surgeon.



The fires have been burning all day; the last picture was taken around 4 pm.
The reason I am writing this is that the newspapers are not interested and I haven’t a clue how to go about protecting the remaining trees without raising  public awareness about what we stand to loose.


About Anna

I am a ceramic sculptor living on the South coast near London, England. My work is influenced by my experience of the earth as a living being and seeing how we are all connected with eachother and with the things that surround us. I create ceramic torsos using molochite clay which I often smokefire in galvanised dustbins. I also make House Gods to protect and amuse, and Fat Birds - little smokefired sculptures that tell the story about what it is like to be a fat bird at peace with its surroundings.
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14 Responses to Marianne North; a Vision of Eden…

  1. Al says:

    What a bunch of assholes. If it is a school, get in touch with the LEA – Local Education Authority and OFSTED. he is not doing his school any favours by manhandling you like that. If they filmed it, then they can get a court order to take the mobiles and grab the film from them.


  2. Sonel says:

    Gosh! I agree with Al. Such assholes Anna! I hope someone fix that man up … with some smoke up his pants!


  3. painterswife says:

    Good heavens what disgusting behaviour from someone who is supposed to be in a responsible position! Am glad you called the police – and that you kept on taking photos. He deserves to have a formal complaint made about his behaviour to you. Also maybe worth alerting the council to what he is doing to the trees? You are such an eco-warrior Anna – he may not realise what he is up against!


    • Anna says:

      Yes, this is the second time he has seriously upset the neighbours with his anti social eco vandalism. The environmental people were there just now, by the way, and forced him to put out the fire. After two solid days of burning, we’re all smelling like smoked kippers. Especially sorry for the old people in the nursing home who got the brunt of the smoke…


  4. this is so sad – & heartbreaking. WE have similar problems here too – but mostly flying under the radar of people in the city – they’re clear felling the old growth forests and that will be that. Goodbye black cockatoos & so many others.
    Good on you for making a fuss! But it will not help the turtle doves 😦
    & I would’ve liked this post, but there is a problem with wordpress – I can’t ‘like’ posts :-/


  5. davidprosser says:

    I hope you’ll make sure the papers are properly notified about this tomorrow. It can make sure the council become aware of public opinion they can’t ignore and make sure more people in the are are likely to be activated against indiscriminate killing of their local heritage.
    xxxx Huge Hugs xxx


  6. Pingback: Cathedral of my Heart | Annakeiller's Blog

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