March 2022 Newsletter

With the clocks going forward, and recent warm sunshine, spring seems to have sprung and we welcome you to the current edition of the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter.

Photo Credit: Elaine Underwood

Negotiations between Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and the Church Commissioners are ongoing. 

Ruth’s discussion of the work of FoBM with the HWT’s Conservation Committee was apparently well received. 


For anyone who wasn’t able to attend the recent online discussion ‘Grassland Carbon – restoration, creation and management practices that affect carbon sequestration in grasslands’, a recording of the webinar is now available on the Plantlife YouTube Channel here. Two experts took part, Penny Anderson BSc., MSc., CEcol, FCIEEM, Ecologist, drew on her 2021 review on this topic. ‘Carbon and ecosystems: restoration and creation to capture carbon’ also focused on addressing the biodiversity crisis and incorporating other ecosystem services. 

Phil Wilson PhD MCIEEM, Ecologist and Devon farmer, talked about data he is publishing from over 1400 NE and landowner grassland sites across the UK. This includes analyses of soil nutrients and soil carbon over different management systems and grassland condition status.

Hosted by Plantlife for the wider GRCF Meadow Makers partnership around the country, it was chaired by Caroline Hanks of Herefordshire Meadows, and in her words, “fits well with our series “Meadows, Mosaics and Mitigating climate change”.  

Photo Credit: Ruth Westoby


Outside the Scout Hut, on the Green off Eign Road, over ninety mums, dads, children, grandparents and teddy bears gather for a photo shoot. It’s June 1953 and they’re celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. 

Judith Morgan (nee Broad) from Whitecross was there that day. “We were holding a children’s party in Park Street for the Queen’s Coronation. But when it rained we beat a hasty retreat to Scout’s Corner.” 

The street party, organised by Mrs A Barber with singing and dancing provided by a Mr Chambers’ radiogram, was officially opened by Hereford United’s Charlie Thompson. 

Bartonsham History Group will host a Pop Up History Day – FoBM will be there – when they recreate the historic parish picture during the Queens Jubilee Bank Holiday on Friday, June 3. 


Check out the images of the meadows as they were in 1933…


5 April at 7.30pm. Regenerative Farming Project at Knepp. Join this online talk to hear Herefordshire-born Russ Carrington discuss regenerative farming at Knepp and how nature recovery and the creation of habitat networks can work in harmony with food production. This talk will be of interest and relevance to Herefordshire farmers and non-farmers alike.  Hosted by the City Branch of  the Wildlife Trust. 

For more information and booking click here. 
Peacock butterfly by John Underwood


The meadows have lain fallow for a year and a half now. We are keen to record changes to the flora and fauna in this time. Hence our monthly bird survey.

Dick Jones and Bill Laws are on the case and spotted:

BlackbirdNuthatchLesser black-backed gull
Grey wagtailMute swanGreat spotted woodpecker (heard)
Blue titMistle thrushMoorhen
GoldcrestCormorantGreat tit
Chiffchaff (heard)RobinMallard
CrowWoodpigeonHerring gull
House sparrow
List of birds spotted (and heard) on the 21st March 2022
Dick said, ‘Good to see nuthatch, greenfinch, grey wagtail and goldcrest and 14 goosander in total spotted.’ 25 species in total. Gareth noted, ‘Down one from last month: hope you’re not losing your touch boys…’


Please get let us know any of your sightings of flora, fauna and floods. Send to Elaine let us know that in March she recorded the first sightings of butterflies, including Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, and Large White.

Photo credit: Ruth Patrick


Last summer we placed reptile mats along the Row Ditch but alas found nothing bar snails and mice. This spring we will survey the riverbank, particularly behind the treatment works. We’ll lay the mats this coming Sunday.

Meet at 2pm by the Green Street entrance to the Meadows. 


14 MAY at Bishops Meadows, St. James’ Community Association balsam bash and litter pick on Saturday May 14th from 10.30 at Bishop’s Meadow riverbank, King Georges Field at Victoria Bridge.  See

22 MAY  at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm. 

3 JUNE  afternoon. Bartonsham History Group will commemorate this street party from 1953. We’ll be there to wax lyrical about floodplain restoration. And eat cake.

12 JUNE  at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm.

25 JUNE  Wye Campaign (time and place TBC): update on Save the Wye Campaign. Hosted by the Hereford and South Herefordshire Labour Party.*

*Ruth swam from the bassom on Sunday gone and confirms the river is pretty stinky. And cold.


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

February 2022 Newsletter


Remember this? The historic floods two years ago (left) swept much of the topsoil off the meadows and into the Wye after its transition to arable (versus 2022 Storm Eunice floods captured by Will, right) - and prompted us to set up Friends of Bartonsham Meadows to campaign for restoration of floodplain meadows for the benefit of local people, wildlife, biodiversity, and climate. Two years later high floods struck again, as they tend to do on floodplains.

This newsletter marks our two year anniversary. Here are some of the things we are delighted to have achieved in that time.

  • Community engagement through in-person events, online events and social media
  • Wildlife and ecological surveys (bioblitz with Hidden Herefordshire, moths, hedgerows, reptiles, birds)
  • Development of an interactive map showing what floodplain restoration with heritage measures could look like (here)
  • Working groups on litter picking, tree-guard removal and balsam bashing
  • Secured support of the MP, Bishop, local church and leader of the council
  • Fostered relationships between advisory groups such as Herefordshire Meadows and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership with the Church Commissioners
  • We have raised sufficient funds to cover our activities and ensure we can continue to campaign for better management of this land
  • More details on the history and activities we have undertaken is available here 
  • An overview of our November 2021 event with expert groups and the Church Commissioners is available here  and a recording of the event here
  • We have developed in-depth research on grasslands (here), the history of the site (here), the relationship between the church and the meadows (here) and an extensive article in the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Flycatcher Magazine (here).
  • We have constituted as a community association with elected officers including Treasurer, Secretary and Convenor
Kip Herring 2021

As a result of our activities and with the solid support of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust throughout the last two years, the Church Commissioners have entered into negotiations with the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust to take a long lease on the management of the land.

Watch this space as we hope to bring you an official announcement soon.


Dick Jones and Bill Laws have started conducting a monthly bird survey. This month (23rd. February between 9:00 and 11:45)  they spotted:

Skylark (heard)Tree creeperHerring gull
Wood pigeonBlue titPied wagtail
RobinGreat titBuzzard
WrenGoosanderTree creeper
CrowMagpieLong tailed tit
JackdawBlack headed gullMoorhen
BlackbirdStarlingHouse sparrow
Lesser blback backed gullRook 
 26 species in total. A record, and a first time for spotting a tree creeper.
February 2022 Floods. Will


Hereford Wildlife Trust visit- Trustees of the HWT, led by Andrew Nixon, visited the Meadows on a wet afternoon on Monday 28th February.  Here they are with Ruth.


An application from Connexus, the housing association, for 1-66 River View (no 214582) has the potential to affect views across the River. This is the group of six large blocks of flats which can be seen looking south across the Meadows and are especially visible from the riverbank public footpath in the winter. The flats, which were built in the ‘Cornish Unit’ style soon after the 1939-45 War do not meet modern standards for energy efficiency and the idea is to clad them with external wall and roof insulation. They would be faced on the ground floor with a grey/blue brick slip, on the first floor with white render and on the second floor with a red coloured metal.  The proposal, which includes changing all the windows to single glazed lights, would add to the bulk and height of the building by about 18 inches. Following consideration by the planning officer around the impact of the scheme on the setting of the Meadows, the scheme has been withdrawn for a rethink. 


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 

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

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
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


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 

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 


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