THE MEADOW

THE MEADOW 2017-10-30T16:24:03+00:00

The Bishop’s Meadow

The Bishop’s Meadow consists of 35 acres of low lying agricultural land to the west of Farnham’s town centre in Surrey.  It is an ancient part of Farnham’s farming heritage and part of its floodplain defences. In the winter months, the Meadow regularly takes flood water from the overflowing River Wey.

Made up of a mix of wet hay meadow, rough pasture and managed scrub and undergrowth, it supports a rich variety of flora and fauna. The Northern branch of the River Wey forms the southern boundary and the far western corner lies next to Farnham cemetery and the West Street allotments. The far eastern boundary is the Old Vicarage gardens. The tower of St Andrew’s Parish Church is a prominent part of the backdrop to the Meadow and there are also views of Farnham Castle and the spire of the United Reform Church in Farnham town.

Meadow

The land has been owned by the Bishop’s Meadow Trust since 2012. It is not public land, but the Trust allows unrestricted public access and the Meadow is popular with dog walkers, joggers, photographers and those seeking a quiet space.  Two public foot paths cross the site and there is a permissive path running around the periphery. The only access for vehicles is a locked gate off Crosby Way.

The Bishop’s Meadow takes its name from the Bishops of Winchester to whom the land once belonged as did Farnham Castle and Farnham Park. The land is still in agricultural use and produces an annual hay crop. In past times, it was flooded deliberately to encourage the early growth of grazing grass.

Grid reference: SU835463     OS X (Eastings): 483541

Postcode: GU9 7XR                 OS Y (Northings): 146375

Historically, floodplain meadows were an important part of the British agricultural landscape.  Silt deposited from seasonal or deliberate river flooding provides high levels of nutrients to the soil which produces a mass of wildflowers and grasses in spring and summer. These are an important habitat for bees, other insects and the birds which feed on them. In late summer, farmers lift the hay crop which becomes a rich source of food for cattle, sheep and horses over the winter months.  Cattle can graze these meadows throughout the autumn because the natural fertility of the land allows grass to continue growing after the hay had been cut.

Today, there are very few floodplain meadows in existence and the Bishop’s Meadow is one of the few that remain in this part of Britain.  In 2013, the Bishop’s Meadow was classified as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance for its “rich grassland habitat supporting 17 plant species typical of grassland of conservation interest in Surrey”.  Read more here.

Herptiles

Herptiles

The grassland and open water areas found on the Bishop’s Meadow provide excellent habitat for common reptiles and amphibians and log piles provide hibernation spots and refuges for toads and other creatures.

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Invertebrates

Invertebrates

Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column. Familiar examples of invertebrates include insects, crabs, lobsters, snails, clams, octopuses, starfish, sea-urchins and their kin, and worms.

Please check back soon to find out more.

Mammals

Mammals

The Bishop’s Meadow is a popular walking spot for dog owners and you’ll be lucky to see many mammals when you are out on the Meadow. But there may be more small mammals than you think hiding in the long grass!

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Cattle

Cattle

As part of the annual hay cut and maintenance of the meadow, the Bishop’s Meadow Trust aspires to bring a herd of cattle to come and graze various parts of the Meadow. To be confirmed!

Please check back soon to find out more.

Birds

Birds

If you are visiting the Meadow, Farnham town or the surrounding countryside, don’t forget to bring your binoculars! The area contains a wide variety of habitat so you may be able to spot both common and rarer bird species.

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Fish

Fish

Despite stresses to the river habitat, The North Wey, where it flows through Bishop’s Meadow, is reported to support a healthy mixed fishery with populations of chub, dace, roach, perch and brown trout.

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Flowers and Grasses

Flowers and Grasses

The Bishop’s Meadow contains a huge diversity of wild flowers and grasses of the species which normally grow on areas of rough grassland, we have 17 species which are considered of local importance in grasslands.

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Moths & Butterflies

Moths & Butterflies

There are 2,500 species of moth and butterfly in the UK, and the Meadow is home to at least 27 species of moth and 18 species of butterfly. Among the moths is the Kent Black Arches, a rarity seldom recorded in Surrey!

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Riverplants

Riverplants

We have many species of riverplants around the riverbank areas of the River Wey which passes through the meadow. These plants include several tall, grade-like plants commonly found in wetlands.

Please check back soon to find out more.