Support for campaign to save historic ecology home

 In News

Midlands green energy expert Ron Fox is hoping a campaign to restore the historic home of the 18th century father of ecology Gilbert White is a success.

Today the Wakes House, which has been restored as a museum in the Hampshire village of Selborne, is facing severe financial problems and is in danger of closing.

“It would be a great shame if the home where White recorded the plants, birds and other species that he saw there in the 18th century, which he published in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, was lost to visitors and nature lovers,” said Ron.

“The parson-naturalist, as he was known, is considered by many to be England’s first father of ecology, as well as a pioneering ornithologist,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park ( “He was certainly the David Attenborough of his day, so this important place should be saved for the nation.”

Broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh, the Bishop of Winchester and the director-general of the Royal Horticultural Society sent a letter to The Times newspaper on Wednesday, April 10 asking for help to preserve the home and museum of Gilbert White.

It is hoped the appeal will raise enough for a £1 million endowment, which could generate enough interest to make the museum within the house financially viable.

The letter is a deliberate echo of 70 years ago when in 1954 conservationists, including the head of the RSPB and the Zoological Society of London, wrote to The Times wanting to stop Gilbert White’s home from closing.
That letter asking for £24,500 to preserve the home of Gilbert White and the 27 acres of parkland helped save The Wakes which was turned into a museum. They wanted to restore the property to what it was in 1793 and to open it to the public. The appeal led to funding from the family of the explorer Robert Washington Oakes.
But since 2020 the home’s insurance costs have increased by 55 per cent, energy costs by 113 per cent and staffing costs by 29 per cent, in part because of the rise in the minimum wage.
Gilbert White was born on July 18, 1720, in his grandfather’s vicarage at Selbourne, He was the oldest of eight surviving siblings and the family moved into The Wakes in 1728. He went to Oriel College, Oxford, and joined the Anglican church in 1746. After the death of his father in 1758 he moved back into The Wakes in 1763. Gilbert White died in 1793 and was buried in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Selborne.

Ron concluded: “I do hope that this house and museum, which is visited by 5,000 pupils plus the public every year, will be saved for future generations.”
Donations can be made via:

If you want any advice about conservation and green energy, contact Ron on 01782 756995 or go to
Caption: Appeal to save the home of Gilbert White, the parson-naturalist who was the father of ecology. Picture supplied by Gilbert White’s House

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