34 acres of historic, floodplain and hay meadow called the Bishop’s Meadow close to the centre of Farnham, Surrey was put on the market for sale for over £200,000.
Four concerned local residents were worried that the land might be sold for development purposes and decided to form the Bishop’s Meadow Trust to raise funds to buy the Meadow. They joined together with the Farnham Society in a public meeting to assess community interest in preserving this land from potential development. The people of Farnham overwhelmingly voted to protect the Meadow. The Bishop’s Meadow Trust (BMT) was registered with Companies House, members recruited and donations invited.
Local philanthropist and media businessman, Sir Ray Tindle, was also concerned about the future of the Bishop’s Meadow. When he learnt of the formation of the Trust, he offered to purchase the land and give the BMT two years (later extended to 3) to raise sufficient funds to buy back nine tenths of the Meadow. This was accepted and fundraising became the main concern of the Trust.
- The Bishop’s Meadow Trust registered with the Charity Commission
- The Bishop’s Meadow Trust has approximately 600 members
- Kidsfest – a festival by children for children holds its first event on the Meadow to raise money to purchase the land. It raised £700
A group of travellers take up residence on the Meadow. After a week of negotiation they agree to move. A new security gate is installed.
The second Kidsfest is held on Oak Meadow raising £10,000. An anonymous donor is so impressed by Kidsfest involvement with the local community that they give £25,000 to the Trust. The Trust holds a “Glambash” charity auction at the Castle which raises £5,241
First of the annual hay cuts on the Meadow.
Surrey Wildlife Trust becomes actively involved with the Meadow.
The first portion of the Meadow is purchased by the BMT from Sir Ray Tindle who retains a section of the land – renamed Manor Meadow.
The Open Spaces Society awarded the Bishop’s Meadow Trust its first ever Open Spaces Award in recognition of the BMT’s campaign to save the Meadow.
An interest-free loan of £75,000 received from the Farnham Building Preservation Trust allows the Trust to buy the final part of the Meadow. The loan is to be repaid over 20 years.
The Wild Trout Trust surveys the River Wey running through the Bishop’s Meadow and makes recommendations.
The Environment Agency provides options to the BMT about future options for the Meadow.
Planting a fruit tree orchard with children and their teachers from local schools.
Creation of the first wild flower meadow with seeds provided by Farnham Town Council and Friends of the Earth for their bee cause. A local bee keeper sets up an out-apiary on adjoining land.
The Trust participates in Farnham’s entry to Britain in Bloom and receives a Certificate of Excellence from RHS Wisley.
A visit and report from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership provides recommendations on future land management including the potential to graze cattle on the Meadow.
A legacy of £10,000 is received. The loan to the Farnham Building Preservations Trust stands at £55,000.
Surrey Wildlife Trust carry out restoration work on the Wey river bed and banks.
Active work on the Meadow includes hedge restoration, tree planting, removing invasive species of plants and planting additional fruit trees.