Alice Holt - view of a meadow

Trees and an old fence in the Forestry Commission property Alice Holt frame this view of a sunny meadow. Acrylics on gesso board – 24 x 18 cm


A sunny meadow framed by trees in Alice Holt. After weeks spent on the large work ‘Waterlilies, Thursley‘ I felt the urge to go to the other end of the scale and paint some small pieces. They’re very affordable too. I like the way the trees and fence frame the view. The name does not refer to a person called Alice. Ælfsige was a Bishop of Winchester who had rights over this particular Holt, or Forest, and Alice seems to be a corruption of Ælfsige. Articles often refer to ‘Alice Holt Forest’ – which would mean ‘Ælfsige’s Forest Forest’! Aldershot, by comparison, means Forest of Alders.

The Forestry Commission manages the forest. The commission was originally tasked with managing supplies of wood following the Great War. Later it began to repopulate upland areas. The area is largely planted with pine (though parts still have oak trees). This monoculture has had a predictable effect on wildlife.

Entomologists regularly visit the Alice Holt to encourage rare Purple Emperor butterflies down from the tops of the trees where they live. Apparently the smellier the foodstuff, the more the Emperors like it! I spent all my childhood holidays in the Channel islands, so I am unfamiliar with many butterflies and the Purple Emperor is one of them. One day I hope to see them.

You might also like these foxgloves.