PRIORY FIELDS WINS GREEN FLAG AWARD FOR 8TH TIME

Well, Priory Fields has done it again! For 8 years running we have been awarded the Green Flag Award as one of the very best green spaces in the country!  Only 16 locations in the Chelmsford area won this year and Priory Fields got Maximum marks for the highest possible environmental standards, maintenance and visitor care.

This is very difficult to attain when a green space is being managed for its wildlife and as an area for the community to walk, picnic, exercise dogs and as a children’s play and discovery area.

If you have never visited before, try a pleasant walk one evening, bring the dog but please clear up after it to help us keep this lovely place somewhere everybody would like to visit.

The full report can be read below.

Peter Nightingale Moves On

The Friends are very sorry to see Peter Nightingale leave us after more than ten years on our committee. His extensive knowledge of all things to do with flora and fauna particularly wild flowers and birds has been of great help and interest in our work to improve and develop the fields. Evidence of this can be seen in the Species List on our website.

As an experienced carpenter Peter’s skills and advice were also much appreciated in the construction of information boards, fences and barriers.

Peter will be greatly missed but we wish him the very best when he moves north, to be closer to his young family, where he is bound to find many new interests to occupy his time. Thanks Peter for all you have done for Priory Fields.

New Machine

At long last following a very successful demonstration of a walk behind flail mower we have taken delivery of a brand new machine.

This machine will allow us to keep down the unwanted growth on areas that have been laboriously cleared over several work parties and hopefully encourage the grass to recolonise these areas. Purchasing this much needed machine has rather depleted our funds so please support our Christmas Raffle, the tickets for which will be on sale shortly.

Tony Bushell

The Friends were very saddened to hear of the recent death of Tony Bushell.

Tony had been an active member of our committee for the past few years and a very capable secretary for part of that time. He was also an active member of our work parties and his contribution will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

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Brian Scowen

The Friends of Priory Fields are very sorry to hear of the recent death of  Brian Scowen.

 

Brian was a founder member of the Friends and for some years served as Treasurer and at the same time was an active member of our working parties – we particularly recall his contribution to the benches that were established around the Fields in the early years.

 

Although that was now some years ago, all those of us who were members at that time have fond memories of Brian and will always remember him.

 

NEW PRIORY INFORMATION BOARD

If you venture up to the priory arch you will find a new information board within the bounds of the old Bicknacre Priory to show the results of archaeological tests carried out over several years. The Maldon Archaeological and Historical Group conducted surveys employing various methods, including ground penetrating radar, and using this information together with the dimensions of similar Augustinian priories around the country have come up with a plan of the probable dimensions and position of the priory. The corners of the main church building are marked on the ground by square paving slabs.

The board, erected by the Friends of Priory Fields, also shows a drawing of what the whole priory probably looked like in its prime.

The excellent artwork was created for us by Rod Brown who is a resident of Bicknacre.

New Brown Signs

Have you had trouble finding your way into Priory Fields? Well you wouldn’t be the first. The Friends have been aware of this problem for many years and have tried to get a brown sign erected by the main road opposite the car park entrance but have been refused by the Highways Department on the grounds that we do not get enough visitors.

Discussions have taken place between the Friends and the Bicknacre Village Hall Committee and we came up with a design for a couple of signs that suited both groups. These brown signs are situated by the main road but not on highways land. It is hoped that visitors to the Village Hall and Priory Fields, which also includes the remains of Bicknacre Priory, will find these signs a helpful in locating these facilities.

New Members

The Friends of Priory Fields are an energetic and ambitious group working to improve the wonderful open-air facility within the village of Bicknacre. In order to help us realise our ambitions we need more people to come forward and join our committee. If you would like to be involved in fundraising, chairing meetings or just lending a hand please come along to one of our committee meetings, held on the second Thursday of every month in the Bicknacre Village Hall, and you will find a very warm welcome.

Living Landscapes Award

At the AGM of the Essex Wildlife Trust on 3rd October 2015 the Friends of Priory Fields were announced as winners of the Living Landscape Award. This award is presented to parks, nature reserves, councils or landowners who have taken practical steps to protect and enhance the local landscape.

Paul Harden and Bob Law with Iolo Williams

Living Landscapes is a national initiative promoted by The Wildlife Trusts. In the context of Essex Living Landscapes, Danbury Ridge, our area, covers the area south of the River Chelmer and surrounding the villages of Great Baddow, Danbury, Little Baddow, Bicknacre and Woodham Walter. The Area has a diverse mix of habitat for wildlife and its history is apparent in many features within the landscape, including the Iron Age hill fort of Danbury Camp and the designed landscape at Danbury Palace. The Area has historic field boundaries, woodland banks and ditches, earthworks from prehistoric and Tudor times, medieval deer parks, a wealth of archaeological sites and historic buildings all of which contribute to the character of the Ridge.

All the winners

The objectives of Living Landscapes is to conserve and enlarge existing habitats and benefit the wildlife that depend on them, to develop wildlife corridors to enable wildlife species to move to new areas, to conserve the historic assets and to conserve and enhance the landscape character.

 

These objectives are exactly what The Friends of Priory Fields are aiming to achieve and it is very gratifying that our efforts have been acknowledged in this way. Bob Law and Paul Harden who have been two of our greatly valued volunteers for many years collected the award from TV presenter Iolo Williams on behalf of the Friends.