A scythe for sore eyes: volunteers sharpen their skills at Turner’s House

Volunteers at Turner’s House in Twickenham unleashed their inner Poldark as they mastered the skill of scything in a workshop earlier this month.

The Poldark scene in which actor Aidan Turner famously set pulses racing with his topless grass cutting was voted the public’s top TV moment of 2015, while for their lesson in scything – and despite the heat – the volunteers at JMW Turner’s house in Richmond on August 1 kept their clothes on.

Julia Scaping, head volunteer gardener, said: “It was hard work but gave our arms a good workout.

“It takes a bit of getting used to to master the knack of the sweeping movement, but we thoroughly enjoyed the morning and have picked up a useful new skill.”

The workshop was run by Elliot Newton, Nature Conservation Manager at the Environment Trust, and covered not only how to cut with the Austrian scythes, but also how to put them together and sharpen the blades.

While Aidan Turner’s muscles were proudly on display in the infamous TV scene, Mr Newton explained that an effective sweeping motion, rather than strength, is what is needed.

He demonstrated to the volunteers how to rotate the body while drawing the blade along, before they got stuck in to cutting the long grass of the wildflower lawn at the back of Turner’s House.

The volunteers meet every Wednesday morning, looking after the nearly 150 different species of plant that are found in the garden.

Turner’s House is open Wednesday-Sunday, from 10am to 4pm. Further information can be found at:

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