Storm damages George Bernard Shaw's revolving writing hut at Shaw's Corner

You can just catch a glimpse of Bernard Shaw's writing hut behind the fallen tree at Shaw's Corner.

You can just catch a glimpse of Bernard Shaw's writing hut behind the fallen tree at Shaw's Corner. - Credit: National Trust Rebecca Whitmore

The writing hut of George Bernard Shaw at the playwright's former Ayot St Lawrence home was damaged in the recent storms.

Storm Dudley, Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin have left their mark on National Trust properties across the East of England, with Shaw's Corner among them.

The trees at Shaw's Corner in Hertfordshire, the former home of playwright George Bernard Shaw, sustained damage

The trees at Shaw's Corner in Hertfordshire, the former home of playwright George Bernard Shaw, sustained damage in the recent storms - Credit: National Trust Rebecca Whitmore

Bernard Shaw’s famous revolving writing hut had a narrow escape, after a Scots pine came down next to it.

Tucked away at the bottom of the garden, the hut suffered a glancing blow, which resulted in some damage.

Repairs are now needed to a small hole in the roof of the structure.

George Bernard Shaw's writing hut sustained damage from a falling Scots pine.

George Bernard Shaw's writing hut sustained damage from a falling Scots pine. - Credit: National Trust Rebecca Whitmore

Originally built as a summerhouse for his wife Charlotte, it was where Shaw wrote a number of his later works and letters.

Shaw called the hut 'London', so that unwanted visitors could be told he was away ‘visiting the capital’.

George Bernard Shaw's writing hut at Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence. Picture: Alan Davies

George Bernard Shaw's writing hut at Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence back in 2019. - Credit: Alan Davies

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The wooden hut was mounted on a revolving mechanism so that the Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist could follow the sun throughout the day as he worked.

A large branch from another pine tree was left suspended over the statue of St Joan at Shaw's Corner.

The statue of Joan had a narrow escape at Shaw's Corner.

The statue of Joan had a narrow escape at Shaw's Corner. - Credit: National Trust Rebecca Whitmore

The statue of St. Joan in the garden at Shaw's Corne

The statue of St Joan in the garden at Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence during the summer. - Credit: Alan Davies

Edwardian villa Shaw’s Corner was home to George Bernard Shaw and his wife, Charlotte, for over 40 years. Shaw lived there from 1906 until his death in 1950. 

Designed in the Arts and Crafts style, the property is currently closed for the winter season and is due to reopen on March 25, 2022.

Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence on a summer's day.

Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence on a summer's day. - Credit: Alan Davies

Elsewhere in Hertfordshire, according to a ranger at Ashridge Estate, the amount of tree debris is the worst they’ve seen for several years.

Along with a number of trees that have fallen, the storm has resulted in more hanging branches, fallen limbs and tree debris.

The priority will be to ensure visitor areas are safe, but deadwood will be left as it can provide beneficial nutrients and shelter for wildlife, plants and fungi.

Tom Hill, trees and woodlands advisor at the National Trust in the East of England, said: “It’s always incredibly sad to see our places sustain storm damage.

"Severe weather events like these only add further urgency to the National Trust's plans to establish 20 million new trees by 2030, to help mitigate the impacts of global climate change and net biodiversity loss.

"If scientists’ predictions are correct, we can expect storms like these to become more frequent and even more intense over the years ahead.  

“Our trees are already under stress from increasingly drier conditions and the continual onset of new and expanding pests and diseases.

"Many of those we're losing have stood as important landmarks and habitats for centuries and you could argue that they're irreplaceable in terms of what they offer to us and the world around them.  

“It will take us several centuries to restore such incredible natural features and there's no time to lose if future generations are to enjoy trees as old and beautiful as those we've just lost.” 

The National Trust is asking supporters to donate what they can to its woodlands fundraising appeal to help the charity with restoration now and in the future. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woodlands-appeal