Shropshire Star

Historic sites in Shropshire selected for English Heritage coronation meadows

Four historic sites in Shropshire will have new meadows created as part of a national plan to mark the coronation of King Charles.

The Royal Oak and Boscobel House with a dramatic sky.

English Heritage has made a coronation pledge to create 100 meadows at 100 historic sites over the next decade and four sites in the county have been selected: Boscobel and White Ladies Priory, Moreton Corbet, Wenlock Priory and Wroxeter Roman ruins.

They have taken their place on the site of other nationally iconic sites including Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Charles Darwin’s house (in Kent) and London’s Jewel Tower.

English Heritage has joined forces with Plantlife - known for its No Mow May - to deliver this natural legacy.

A spokesman for English Heritage said: "To celebrate the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, English Heritage will enhance and create one hundred meadows at its castles and abbeys, prehistoric stone circles and palaces.

Wenlock Priory

"From Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain to the Jewel Tower right in the heart of Westminster, over the next decade, the charity will create a natural legacy at its historic sites – establishing flower-rich grasslands right across England, restoring those that have been lost, and enhancing those that already exist."

The organisation said the UK has lost a staggering 97 per cent of its meadows since the 1930s and the advent of post-war modern farming practices.

Before this change they say much of England’s grassland – from meadows, road verges and lawns - would have been home to a much more diverse flora than we have today.

The spokesman added: "Whilst the English Heritage estate is relatively unusual in not having been subject to changing agricultural policy, the grassland surrounding its historic monuments has become ‘municipalised’ over the past century; diminishing the botanical diversity enjoyed by earlier generations.

Moreton Corbet Castle is a medieval castle and remains of an Elizabethan mansion.

"There is an abundance of sites where – with the right management – meadows, both big and small, can be created and flourish.

"The creation and enhancement of wildflower-rich grasslands across England will not only benefit nature, but healthy grasslands are proven to tackle pollution and permanently lock away atmospheric carbon below ground. As well as the benefits to the environment, for visitors to the sites, the grasslands will evoke something with which the historic occupants of those sites would have been very familiar."

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s chief executive, said: “The King’s coronation is a significant moment in history and we wanted to mark it in a meaningful way, in a way that combines two of His Majesty’s passions – nature and heritage.

"We’re creating more natural spaces at the heart of our historic properties, ensuring that wildflowers and wildlife can flourish there once again, and helping our visitors to step back into history and experience something with which the sites’ historic occupants would have been familiar.”

Wroxeter Roman city

“In a decade’s time, our coronation pledge will be an inspiring legacy of established, restored and new meadows at 100 of our historic sites – big and small – right across England.

"We hope that it will encourage local communities to get involved and help transform their local heritage sites into flower-rich meadows, which, in turn, will improve the quality and diversity of other grassland in the local area.”

A key component of the initiative is to involve and engage with local communities around each of the meadow sites.

Working with wildlife groups and volunteers local to each site, English Heritage will source seed from existing meadows in the area to ensure the reintroduction of viable, local species of wildflower to each site.

The range and diversity of the charity’s sites, on different soils and geology, will enable this national programme to enhance a unique range of landscapes - from damp acid grasslands to dry chalk grasslands with shallow soils – thus enhancing local character and biodiversity. This will not only benefit local wildlife but also provide a more authentic historic experience for visitors.

Ian Dunn, Plantlife’s chief executive, said: “Plantlife is delighted to be working with English Heritage on meadow creation. This new and exciting partnership offers a lifeline to a hundred key grassland sites and their associated wildlife, and focuses on a chapter of English natural history lost and all but forgotten.

"Together, we look forward to a future where England’s best historic sites boast the highest quality grasslands, supporting a myriad of diverse meadow plants and wildlife. With so many of our grassland wild plant species facing severe risks, this insightful initiative is unquestionably a step in the right direction.”

Boscobel, close to the Staffordshire-Shropshire border has been highlighted as one of the top sites alongside Down House in Kent, and the iconic Stonehenge.

It has links to the last monarch to be called Charles. King Charles II took refuge in this picturesque hunting lodge in 1651 after Civil War defeat, famously hiding for a day in an oak tree whilst Cromwell’s soldiers searched for him below.

Latterly a thriving Victorian farm, The Royal Oak field has recently been replanted as oak pasture, restoring the 17th-century setting, this included over-seeding the pasture with local green hay introducing local meadow flowers which will be further enhanced.

Other sites on the list include Barnard Castle in County Durham, Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire, Castle Acre Priory and Castle in Norfolk, Down House in Kent, the Jewel Tower in London, St Mary’s Church, Kempley, in Gloucestershire, Okehampton Castle in Devon, Stonehenge in Wiltshire, and Walmer Castle in Kent

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