The Field Studies Council is a charity that works in many ways to bring environmental understanding to all. It does this through projects working in local communities and by lobbying government to include fieldwork in the curriculum. the FSC works overseas and runs the Kids Fund and Bursary Fund to offer financial support to those who may not otherwise be able to visit it centres.
The charity has over 70 years’ experience of providing fieldwork and outdoor learning to people of all ages via a network of 19 UK centres offering day and residential opportunities.
The FSC at Flatford Mill was the first field study centre set up in the UK and is one of four Field Centres established by The Council for the Promotion of Field Studies for the serious study of countryside activities, natural history and art.
FSC opens at Flatford
- In 1943 the National Trust had acquired Flatford Mill and Willy Lotts House and were looking for a tenant.
- On 7 August 1946 the National Trust agreed a lease with the FSC who were keen to set up a residential outdoor learning centre.
- In order to prepare the buildings to receive students, the Carnegie Trust generously funded most of the initial establishment costs.
- The FSC opened at Flatford Mill in 1945 and welcomed its first students in May 1946.
Originally the FSC leased the adjoining Valley Farm from its then owner, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) but now have a similar agreement with the National Trust which bought Valley Farm from SPAB in 1959.
The first warden at Flatford was Dr Eric Ennion. Dr Ennion had sold his medical practice at the end of the 2nd World War, intending to earn his living as a freelance artist, writer and broadcaster.
However, when opportunity to become the first warden of the pioneer Field Study Centre at Flatford, he could not resist and took up the post with his wife Dorothy.
The official opening at Flatford was by Queen Mary on 23 July 1948.
Wardens that followed Eric Ennion
- Eric Ennion 1945-1950
- Hartley 1950-1951
- Bingly 1952-1982
- Hodges 1982-1986
- Jackson 1986-2012
- John Blair 2013- present
Flatford Field Studies Council Today*
The FSC at Flatford runs residential and day courses for adults and children alike. The range of courses includes:
- Primary school residential and day trips
- Residential courses for A-level students
- Natural History courses
- A plethora of courses for adults – here is a sample, oil and water-colour painting, photography, film making, ornithology, foraging, coracle making, lace making, book binding, print making, basket weaving, calligraphy, jewellery making, meditation, aromatherapy, stained glass
Residential students stay buildings such as Willy Lotts’ House, Valley Farm and of course the Mill itself that was owned by the Constable family in the 1700’s.
* Due to the COVID pandemic the above activities have temporarily halted.