January 2022 Newsletter


Welcome to the first Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter for the year. We hope that you had a restful festive period. As you can see below we have started the year with renewed hope for positive developments in the Meadows.


We understand that the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust is in discussion with the Church Commissioners regarding a lease on the meadows. There are many issues yet to be agreed upon but FoBM will keep you informed of any updates to this potentially exciting development.
Steve Franklin, 2021

Bill Laws shares his historical research on the post of prebend–and why the meadows matter to the community.

Who owns Bartonsham Meadows? And why?

The Church Commissioners for England, 31 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3AZ.


It’s an odd story.

In the 1840s the Rev John Hopton was vicar of Canon Frome and Prebendary of Bartonsham. Prebendaries were curious people. They represented their prebendary parish to the bishop and his cannons, and collected the rents, or tithes, on behalf of the Cathedral.

Hereford Cathedral employed ‘prebs’ because it was (and still is) a secular institution - one of only nine in England and Wales - as opposed to a cathedral run by a monastic order.

Hopton had been cheerfully collecting the rents since 1832. It was a decent income: aside from the water meadows, hops and orchards, there were a cluster of little businesses - small holdings, boat operators and knackers’ yards - around Crozier Lane and the nearby wharf. The size of the prebendary holding had been calculated ‘more or lesse’ in a ‘terrier’, or assessment, for Prebendary John Tyler in 1693. It listed ‘pasture, arable, meadowland’ and a generous ‘beast house’ on 133 acres ‘bounded south by the River Wye, and y lands of John Hill . . . , and y gardens abutting on the highway leading from Eign to St Giles chapill, and y five acres of arable land, called the Mill Croft’.

Not bad since less than half a century earlier the Meadows had been trashed by a bunch of Scots mercenaries laying siege to the city for the Parliamentarians. (Camped on the Meadows they made life miserable for the locals: ‘Reader, if thy hadst been present to have seen the cryes these poor people made, if thy heart had not been hard, it would have melted into tears with them,’ wrote Miles Hill in 1650.

In the 1840s, however, Hopton signed the Meadows over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The deal seemed to have been designed to fund the new parish school, church and vicarage at St James.

Was it a good deal? While the school and church still serve the community, the vicarage, following a £1m publicly funded upgrade, is no longer a parish possession. (It was bought last year by the evangelical Christian group Vennture.)

And the Meadows? We hope the Prebendary of Bartonsham’s estate will, one day, do more than provide an income stream for the Church Commissioners.

Footnote: the honorary role of Prebendary of Bartonsham is still hosted by Hereford Cathedral. Currently vacant, it’s expected to be allocated soon.

Bill Laws chairs the Bartonsham History Group. Check out their website for a great history of the meadows www.bartonshamhistory.org.uk.
Lisa Stevens, 2021


The eagle-eyed Dick Jones and Bill Laws note the following –

We had a good walk this dry, cold and bright morning, setting off at 9:00 from Greenway Bridge. We followed the riverside path right round to Victoria Bridge and then back along Nelson Street, Green Street and Park Street.

We spotted the following:

WoodpigeonGreat titBlue tit
House sparrowKingfisherRobin
Herring gullMallardMagpie
Lesser black backed gullBlack headed gullSong thrush
CrowLong tailed titSiskin
RookCollared doveStarling
Sparrow hawk
(on roof of a certain house on Park Street)

Twenty eight in total – a record number for us and could easily have got to 30 if a few more regulars had been in evidence (swan, cormorant, dunnock, coal tit, redwing and fieldfare).


The St. James’ and Bartonsham Community Association held an online event on Thursday 27th January with fascinating contributions from Friends of the Upper Wye, Friends of the Lower Wye, and advice from the Wye Valley AONB on the practicalities of tackling balsam. A fourth talk told of the Wyeside infrastructure projects proposed along the course of the river through Hereford by the Sea Cadets, Rowing and Rugby Clubs. The information-rich event was recorded and will be available on www.jaba.org.uk.


About 20 volunteers turned out in chilly bright and dry weather on Sunday 30th January to help with the removal of the deteriorating plastic guards from the young trees planted by Bartonsham Meadows on Outfall Works Road and along the cycle track towards Rotherwas. We started this job, which was long overdue, a year ago but were unable to complete it until the annual vegetation had died down.  Thank you to everyone who pitched in with the prickly task and cleared huge quantities of ordinary litter too. Photos taken by Ruth.


Please get in touch with your sightings of flora and fauna - and floods! We keep a record and would really appreciate any notes or images you take. Send to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org 

As always, if you could do any of the following we'd be super grateful:

- Share this newsletter
- Join us on Instagram and Facebook
- Become a formal member of the Friends Group - sign up here
- Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

December 2021 Newsletter


Welcome to the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter – it’s great to have you here. Thank you for supporting positive ecological management of Bartonsham Meadows.

This month we have…

  • Continued our discussions (online) with the Church Commissioners, with our next discussion scheduled for mid-January
  • Improved our Stronger Towns Fund bid, lead by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, and re-submitted it to the board
  • Presented (Ruth) to the Community Association (online) introducing our project and giving an update on progress
  • Planned to gather our finest ecology heads together for a walk-round and assessment of the state of the meadows with a focus on wildlife populations
  • Reached over 100 supporters!
From Lisa Stevens

We’re excited to have an online introductory event in January. Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City Branch are kindly hosting us to give a presentation about our project. There’ll be short talks from Andrew Nixon (Herefordshire Wildlife Trust), Anna Gundrey (ecology consultant), Bill Laws (historian), Ruth Westoby (FOBM convenor) and plenty of time for Q&A.

It will take place on 21st January at 7pm

From Wendy Prickett


  • Record images and footage of the meadows, especially now the floods are up, and share with us to keep a record and for use on social media
  • Donate to help our project grow (get in touch if you would like to make a donation)
  • Encourage friends to sign up to our mailing list
  • Consider joining Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
  • Get in touch with feedback and ideas
This project has only been kicked around since February 2020 and since then we have been bowled over by the encouragement, engagement and support it's received. In the teeth of an extraordinary and difficult year it has felt important and powerful to get active for positive change right on our doorstep. We’re so grateful for the generous donations which have enabled us to cover costs and develop the project. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us, got involved and enabled this project to get off to such an awesome start.

Wishing you a peaceful 2021,

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

November 2021 Newsletter

Hereford, 30th November 2021. Credit Fran Morgan
Welcome to this latest edition of the FoBM Newsletter.


We held an online lecture, Q&A and discussion with the experts on floodplain meadows restoration. We were delighted to be joined by local and national leaders in floodplain meadow, grassland, and wetland restoration and management.

Emma Rothero from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership

Caroline Hanks from Herefordshire Meadows

Andrew Nixon from Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

This information-rich event is available to watch on our YouTube channel (minus the discussion and Q&A) and Jenny-May has written a full blog report available here on our website.

See some sneak peeks of the presentations below!

Slide 26 by Emma Rothero.

“On one level my task was easy -as these meadows are naturally stunning -and art that communicates the beauty and wonder of the natural world draws our attention to it, brings us joy and reminds us how much we value it and that we should protect it.”

“But more than that it was important to me to amplify the message that these vital floodplain meadows are still under threat; from agricultural practices, housing and road developments and even flood defence measures.”

Words by artist Alice Walker
Illustration by EnviroVisuals

5 principles of regenerative agriculture. Groundswell, the regenerative Agriculture Show and Conference.


At our online event the land agent for the  Church Commissioners responsible for Bartonsham Meadows gave a management update. Matthew Scott, of Strutt and Parker, stated that Bartonsham Farm forms an important green space in central Hereford, without which lots of people wouldn’t have access to outdoor green spaces. The Church appreciates that it is a key asset to the people of Hereford. He said that the Commissioners are looking at changing from an arable farming system to some form of floodplain meadow restoration - ‘that’s a plan we’re looking to put together’. He said they are considering how best to do that as they come out of the environmental stewardship scheme (which was in place for the previous tenant farmer). This involves  looking at a range of options for future tenancy. 

The final word of the event went to Andrew Mottram (erstwhile Vicar of St. Paul’s Church) who was kind enough to share his views on the project. He flagged up that the Church of England has a serious zero carbon target and environmental programme, which both congregations and commissioners have to work to. It will be published next Spring. Church Commissioners are stewards, and they have responsibility as trustees to ensure a return on investment; but also a responsibility to ensure that assets ‘do not suffer from loss, degradation or depreciation’. This is the other side of the Bartonsham Meadows project. It needs to be recognised that the mistake of it going to arable has done a lot of damage. But look at the way that land recovers. The site needs to be given time, and the Church Commissioners need to have a longer-term view, for example 25 years rather than five. Andrew shared the example of the flood plains down the Thames in Oxfordshire that are now beautiful, richly biodiverse grasslands. Andrew had these final words of encouragement to everyone involved with Friends of Bartonsham Meadows: ‘It’s a great project. It’s brilliant that the community of Bartonsham have woken up to this. It could so easily have been lost. So well done to everybody involved’.

Please see our blog and YouTube for further details. 

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows will continue to work hard to promote a long-term solution with floodplain meadow restoration accompanied by heritage and environmental restoration - ponds, hedgerows, orchards and wetlands.
Photo credit: Fram Morgan


Fran Morgan has been volunteering for a citizen science project monitoring the health of the River Wye as it passes by the Meadows. We asked her for an update.

“Are you testing the water?”

I was delighted to be asked. Here was my opportunity to talk with people about the state of the river and quite often they will have typed Friends of the Upper Wye into their phones before they walk away. Today my conversationalists were also searching for veg box deliveries near you before they carried on across the Victoria Bridge! Well it’s all joined up, they said, and I had to agree with them.

Sue Bywater and I have been monitoring the water quality from the middle of the Vicky Bridge twice a week for about 4 months now and today, 16th November, was another “mass testing day”. This means that the quality of the river and its tributaries is measured that day at around 150 sites between the source and Mordiford. The results are transferred via an app to Cardiff University where they are collated and analysed.

What are we checking? Well, the main ingredients of concern are nitrates and phosphates largely running off the land or leaching into the river because of over application. The poo of 20 million chickens in the Upper Wye catchment has to go somewhere and extra fertilisers added to fields can also contribute to this eco disaster which has seen the spread of blue green algae through the river, blocking out the sunlight, depriving the river of weed and oxygen for fish and invertebrates at the bottom of the food chain. It is suggested that swans have not been able to successfully rear their cygnets for 2 years now as the weed has disappeared and the numbers of fish are declining rapidly. A number of angling clubs are involved in river testing too as they see the future of their sport in jeopardy.

The university is looking for correlations with temperature and conductivity so we measure that too, it’s about 12 oC in the river at the moment but summer temperatures of over 20 oC were apparently really too hot for the fish. We also measure the turbidity of the river to give an indication of recent heavy rainfall and flooding and we estimate the size of patches of algae or evidence of particular pollution spills. A serious incident will be reported immediately to the Environment Agency.

It’s feels so hopeful testing the river twice a week, it really complements the meadows campaign. The chance it offers me to talk to folk as they pass along the bridge has been so encouraging. Comments like, I wouldn’t drink it or, as I lower our bucket into the river, you’ll never catch a fish like that, have given way to real interest in the process of testing and enthusiasm to get involved.

I’m sure the world is going to change one test tube at a time.

Fran Morgan – volunteer for Friends of the Upper Wye


(Fran will provide a further contribution in a future newsletter looking in greater detail at the science behind the project. Thanks Fran!)


Two grey wagtails were spotted very near Greenway Bridge. Three female gooseander were on the Wye. A few birds listed were heard but not seen: great spotted woodpecker, jackdaw and wren. Half a dozen or so birds in flight were finches and listed as chaffinches. No swans, redwing or fieldfare spotted.

List of birds:

Pied wagtail                 Pied wagtail             Pheasant
Grey wagtail                Grey wagtail             Great spotted woodpecker
Mallard                           Mallard                        Gooseander
Black headed gull     Black headed gull  Kingfisher
Magpie                           Magpie                        Jackdaw
Wood pigeon              Wood pigeon            Rook
Bluetit                            Bluetit                           House sparrow
Wren                               Wren                             Robin


Famous families from composer Edward Elgar’s to Victorian photographer Alfred Watkins’ have wandered the Wye at our ‘Bassom’. 

Keep their company with Bartonsham History Group for a (free! but donations ALWAYS welcome) family amble across the Meadows on Tuesday 28 December. Gather at the Meadows’ Green Street end around 10.15am – and expect a slice of history from our local experts! Bring your own mince pies.


Please get in touch with your sightings of flora and fauna - and floods! We keep a record and would really appreciate any notes or images you take. Send to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org 


We’re delighted with progress so far but will definitely not let up the pressure. We’re going to take a break from the monthly newsletter and skip the December update. But we will continue all our efforts!

Look out for the next newsletter sometime towards the end of January 2022, just on the cusp of spring, with details of exciting developments and events to look forward to. 

In the meantime, the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows committee would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas (if Christmas is your thing) or a very relaxing holiday season (if it is not) and a very Happy New Year.

Best wishes

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth, Will – and our super guest writers Jenny-May While and Fran Morgan

October 2021 Newsletter


Nature might have started slowing down over the last few weeks in preparation for winter but FoBM has been cracking on at pace with various activities and plans…


On the 9th of November we have a very special online meeting when experts in meadow restoration and upkeep will share their knowledge and insights. Participants will have the chance to discuss what restoration might look like at Bartonsham. This is an event not to be missed.

Sign up below to attend the event and please share with those you think might be interested. It is free but donations are welcome (which you can add when you sign-up via Eventbrite).

FoBM will also share the way in which its membership structure will operate over the next 12 months at the meeting.


Counsellor Jeremy Milln facilitated the visit as a part of the CEO’s walking tour of the ward on 25th October. Jeremy was able to report:

“Paul Walker very much enjoyed his visit to Bartonsham Meadows yesterday and asked me to thank you for going out of your way to meet him there and show him round. He was clearly hugely impressed by the efforts of the Friends group and genuinely delighted and inspired by what he heard and saw.”

Paul Walker noted that he would like to support the project and it was suggested he speak with the Bishop, Rev Richard Jackson. Richard has previously supported FoBM’s aims by writing to the CEO of the Church Commissioners. 


FoBM spoke with the Church Commissioners’ land agent for an update on land management on 22nd October. 

The Church Commissioners have decided against reseeding this Autumn on the basis that it is difficult to cultivate now whilst avoiding ploughing, and a reluctance to invest in a temporary lay of an annual ryegrass. The agent has received advice that groundcover is sufficient to hold the soil through winter floods even in the field beside the house. FoBM have shared images of the current groundcover – and bare patches.

The agent has arranged for the land to be topped by a contractor, weather permitting, using a batwing hayter and the cuttings left on site. After this cut the land will be put to bed till the spring, when it will be drilled. 

The Church Commissioners have sought advice from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership and Hereford Meadows and will meet with them next month. However, this is for a baseline plan rather than a reinstatement as floodplain. The agent is also to put together a brief to find a tenant early in the new year on a flexiterm contract for 5 or 6 years. The shortness of the tenancy rules out Herefordshire Wildlife Trust who cannot take on a lease of less than twenty-five years.

By Ruth


On the 18th October various members of the committee had a really helpful conversation with Andrew Mottram who was able to offer insights to the workings of the Church Commissioners and how best to approach them. Andrew was the vicar at All Saints and works with the church for innovative use of the estate. 

The Rev Luke Aylen, who walked the land with Jeremy and Ruth at the end of September, has petitioned the Diocese and written to the Church Commissioners. Luke has raised the case for including environmental issues, and specifically Bartonsham Meadows, in the Church’s wider area’s mission action plan. Luke recently arrived in Hereford from an urban ministry in Bristol where he had obtained valuable experience in community supported agriculture and organic garden projects. Luke is a ‘designated pioneer’ for the Church of England which has given him leave to ‘think outside the box’ especially in tackling the Climate Crisis and in social action work. Luke is working to turn some of the Commissioners’ land at Three Elms into an eco community farm if it goes ahead with the large scale house-building proposed there.


A month-long survey along the permissive path behind Park Street failed to produce any evidence of reptile populations. Next spring a similar survey will be conducted but along the river bank. Hopefully any slow worms will be quicker on the uptake. 


After the unexpected skylarks visits this summer, what’s about in winter? 

Our monthly bridge-to-bridge (Canary to Victoria) survey, uploaded to the British Trust for Ornithology’s Bird Track, threw up robin, blackbird, house sparrow, blue-, great- and long-tailed tits, buzzard, kestrel, tawny owl, great spotted woodpecker, magpie, rook, crow, starling (a murmuration of around 100), lesser black backed and black headed gulls, mute swan, moorhen and mallard. 

Expect to see goosander, kingfisher, cormorant and a shy little egret on the river; field fares and redwings are flying over now along with song and mistle thrush. 
Goosander – from birdwatcher.co.uk


FoBM received a huge publicity boost this month with a five page spread on its aims and work in the journal of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, 2021.


Wild Plants in Urban Environments’ a Zoom talk by Dr Mark Spencer this Thursday November 4th 7:30 pm, followed by Q&As.  A well-known forensic botanist, Mark is also keen to make us aware of the wild fungi, lichens, and plants which pop up through our pavements, through the cracks in walls, and along our kerbs. To find out more about Mark’s work have a look at his website and show reel at www.markspencerbotanist.com   To book for this free talk click on  https://www.herefordshirewt.org/events/2021-11-04-city-branch-online-talk-wild-plants-urban-environments or go to the Events page on the HWT website https://www.herefordshirewt.org/


  • Send us your sightings! – We’d love to see your reports of any birds, beasts, plants and floodwater… email to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org
  • Share this newsletter
  • Join us on Facebook and Instagram
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here
  • Become a formal member of the Friends Group – once we have a sec to get the details on the site!

Best wishes

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth, Will and all at Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

September 2021 Newsletter

A warm welcome back to our Friends. Thanks so much for supporting the project.

Quick overview of the month:

We walked the site with the officers of the Church Commissioners and their agents and have received independent advice on reseeding from a number of experts.

We laid reptile mats along the Row Ditch and have been checking them this month. Alas no snakes - but a wee mouse and lots of snails.

We conducted a hedgerow survey to identify defunct hedgerow, where the hedges need gapping up, and to identify species. Suffice to say for now that many are in a poor state.

Our seven-page spread in the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s next edition of The Flycatcher is at the printers and will be with HWT members in mid-October. See a preview below.

The spider Poppy Wilkins identified in our Bioblitz made it to prime position in the CLAN newsletter.

A huge huge thanks to Healing Herbs’ generous donation - we now know our basic running costs are covered for the year to come. If you can chip in to support our activities we now have an instant donate button on the website here
Thanks to CLaN for the mention!
Sneak peak of our article in Flycatcher! Full edition available mid-October.


Autumn is upon us and the meadows have been fallow for a year. The topping of weeds in August has left a seedbed to be relished by the birds this winter but leaves a seedbed of docks estimated to last 60 years. The docks are already forming seed heads again – which we have of course communicated to the Church Commissioners and asked them to top and remove.

Flooding of the meadows is inevitable as winter approaches. Current ground cover will provide some resistance to the removal of topsoil, but not on areas where cover is poor, such as the field closest to the farmhouse. 

The Church Commissioners have received recommendations from county and national meadow restoration groups to reseed all of the fields without the use of spray this autumn. This needs to be done as a matter of urgency both to provide cover where the land is bare and to allow the seed to become established enough not to be washed away in the floods. After a year of lying fallow weed mitigation is problematic. However, if an annual nurse crop were sown this would inhibit the return of dock and thistle – provided that if say ryegrass were used it could be cut and carted to avoid establishment on the land for decades. A more native meadow mix could then be added to the sward. 

The Church Commissioners have not yet indicated whether they will seek to reseed the site this Autumn. We have strongly urged them to do so. We have shared this text with them prior to sending out the newsletter and asked for a statement on their intention for the site that we can share publicly.


During September we have been conducting a reptile survey along the permissive path at the back of Park Street. This is the ideal time of year to do it – reptiles are less active in Autumn and easier to spot, but have not yet gone into hibernation. 

We were hoping to find slow worms or perhaps common lizards but sadly we have not seen a single reptile – only a lone mouse and lots of snails.  This may be because historically the field was grazed right up to the gardens, which would not have left many places for reptiles to shelter, or it may be that slow worms have been predated by the healthy cat population in the neighbourhood.  Because of the city centre location, the meadows are isolated from other habitats that might support reptiles, so once lost it is difficult for a population of reptiles to recolonize. 

Next spring we plan to carry out a similar survey along the edge of the river, where we are hoping to discover grass snakes, a species that is often associated with aquatic habitat.  If we do find reptiles along the river, we could investigate how green corridors allow the population to disperse to other areas of the meadows.  Which leads nicely onto the survey that we have carried out this month….


FoBM have just carried out an audit of the hedgerow resource on the meadows.  As many may have noticed, new double fences were installed along defunct hedgelines a few years ago as if in preparation for new hedge planting.  But this never happened.  We have walked the boundaries of the fields and assessed the condition of each of the hedgerows, and will report back to the CC with the aim of encouraging them to fulfil the commitments of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.


At first glance a slow worm looks like a snake, but they are actually legless lizards.  They have a sleek silvery body and a tail that they can shed to escape an attacker.   They are found in a range of habitats from grassland and woodland edges to gardens, and feed on invertebrates such as slugs and spiders.  Like all reptiles in Britain, they receive protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 meaning that it is an offence to kill, injure or sell them. Like much of the UK’s wildlife, they are threatened by habitat loss.

During our hedgerow survey we spied these tree guards along Outfall Works that need to come off – when the undergrowth has died down a little more to avoid the stingers. We might organise a community working group – unless you want to get out there and start getting them off! Photo by Dick Jones

Our seven-page spread in Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s The Flycatcher due out to members in mid-October.

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership’s online conference running 13th, 14th and 15th October. Check out the sessions and sign-up here.

Our friends at Hidden Herefordshire have been busy developing an exciting programme of wildlife courses for the autumn/winter months.  Check the new Herefordshire Biological Records Centre website for details here.  Courses are free and cover a range of fascinating topics such as ‘Getting to grips with woodlice’ and ‘Learn to love earthworms’.  They are also encouraging everyone to take part in a Garden Wildlife survey – survey sheets and spotters guides are available on the HBRC website. Check out the flyers below for more information.

We’ll do a survey of reptiles along the riverbank in the Springtime - better luck there we hope!


  • Let us know your exciting flora and fauna finds
  • Send us images and stories of the meadows
  • Share this newsletter
  • Join us on Facebook and Instagram
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here
  • Become a formal member of the Friends Group – once we have a sec to get the details on the site!