Nature Conservation in Edingthorpe

Edingthorpe has three areas where active conservation is taking place:

  1. Clay Lane, a Roadside Nature Reserve
  2. Highbanks Green, a community space and nature reserve
  3. Edingthorpe All Saints Churchyard

Our local farmers, J H Withers and Son, also farm in a way that doesn’t impact on the environment.

1. Clay Lane Roadside Nature Reserve

Norfolk County Council established Roadside Nature Reserves in 1990 to protect and enhance nature next to our roads. The aim is to increase biodiversity and improve nature connectivity by encouraging native plants to spread along the verges. Clay Lane, running from The Street to Hall Lane in Edingthorpe Green has just been designated as our first reserve. In the spring it is full of lesser celandines, sweet violets and bluebells, followed by red campion, greater stitchwort and cow parsley. It will be managed to conserve the plant life, rather than being part of the council’s regular mowing regime.

2. Highbanks Green

Highbanks Green is on Rectory Road, Edingthorpe, next to the pond. The land is owned by the Parish Council, but had become neglected in recent years, with a large band of invasive pampas grass down the centre. The Parish Council carried out a survey about future use of the land and found that the majority of residents wanted the land to be more ‘wildlife friendly’ and also to be used for ‘quiet enjoyment’. As a first step, the non-native pampas grass has been removed and the picnic table re-set. We held a consultation with Lucy Seeley from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and as a result, planted a 42m mixed native hedgerow at the back of the site in March, which was provided by the Conservation Volunteers ’I Dig Trees’ initiative.

We were helped in the planting by a large group of North-East Norfolk Conservation Volunteers, led by Julie Butcher and Kathy Hilton. The weather was good and we had an enjoyable time, supported by refreshments at the end. 

Local farmers, Andrew and John Withers had kindly prepared the site beforehand, and have also prepared and sown a wildlife flower mix where the pampas grass was removed.

The plan is to mow a path through the site to give access to the seat and picnic bench and leave the rest of the area uncultivated during the spring and summer. The rough tussocky grassland on the site is an ideal habitat for the Meadow Brown butterfly a well as amphibians and insects, and can also provide a food supply for nesting birds.  Over the spring and summer we hope to monitor the plants, insects and other wildlife using the area. In early autumn, after most wildflowers have set their seed, the whole area will be scythed or mown to keep it tidy for the winter.

You are encouraged to take the opportunity to walk around, enjoy the splendid views from the seat and take note of any plants and insects that you spot!

Next autumn, the Woodland Trust will be giving us some trees and we will be looking for volunteers to help with the planting.

If you are interested in helping on the site, either with planting or taking part in the wildlife surveys, please contact David Beecroft on 01692 650250 (, Gill Cullingford on 01692 218599 ( or Ian Witham 01692 650530.

So far, the list of plants identified:

April 2024

Alliaria petiolata – Garlic mustard, Jack-by-the-hedge

Anthriscus sylvestris – Cow parsley 

Cardamine pratensis – Ladies smock, Cuckoo flower (in flower)

Cirsium arvense – Creeping thistle

Epilobium hirsutum – Great willow herb (edge of pond)

Galium aparine – Cleavers, Goose grass

Galanthus nivalis – Snowdrop (by entrance, previously noted)

Glechoma hederacea – Ground Ivy

Heracleum sphondylium – Hogweed

Lamium album – White dead nettle (in flower)

Leontodon hispidus – Rough hawkbit

Phragmites communis – Common reed (in pond)

Primula veris – Cowslip (in flower)

Ranunculus repens – Creeping buttercup

Rubus fruticosus agg. – Bramble

Rumex obtusifolius – Broad leaved dock 

Symphytum officinale – Comfrey 

Taraxacum officinale – Dandelion  (in flower)

Urtica dioica – Stinging nettle

Veronica hederifolia (?) – Ivy leaved speedwell (in flower)

Daffodils, Spanish bluebells (cultivated)

Trees and shrubs

Acer pseudoplatanus – Sycamore

Buddleja davidii – Butterfly bush

Fraxinus excelsior – Ash

Malus domestica – Apple

Prunus laurocerasus – Laurel

Ribes sanguineum – Flowering currant

May 2024

Angelica sylvestris (?) – Wild angelica

Bellis perennis – Daisy

Chrysanthemum leucanthemum – Ox-eye daisy

Cirsium arvense – Creeping thistle

Epilobium hirsutum – Great (hairy) willowherb

Iris pseudacorus – Yellow flag iris

Plantago lanceolata – Ribwort plantain

Ranunculus repens – Creeping buttercup

Silene dioica – Red campion

Stellaria media – Chickweed

Vicia sativa – Common vetch


Dactylis glomerata – Cocksfoot

Poa pratensis – Meadow grass

3. Edingthorpe All Saints Churchyard

Many Norfolk churches are actively maintaining their churchyards as havens for nature alongside the need for burial plots and a place for peaceful reflection. With the loss of the traditional meadows once seen in the countryside, churchyards are often the sole remnants of ancient wildflower meadows. Edingthorpe re-established itself as an active member of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s (NWT) Churchyard Conservation Scheme in 2022, under the guidance of David Beecroft.

The NWT conducted a plant survey of the churchyard and identified 82 different plant species of which 15 were noted as of interest meaning that they no longer appear in the greater countryside; for example, pignut (one of three important churchyard -dependent wild flowers), oxeye daisy and lady’s bedstraw.

  • Wildflowers:                                      49 – 12 of which are significant
  • Grasses/Sedges/ Wood rushes       16 – 3 of which are significant
  • Ferns                                                  1
  • Trees/Shrubs                                    14
  • Mosses (Bryophytes)                       3

The surveyor commented:

“It was a real joy to visit your lovely churchyard over the past couple of summers, and to find it supporting a good diversity of wildflowers and other species.  Edingthorpe is a good example of churchyard grassland. It has typical species such as pignut, germander speedwell, common sorrel, bulbous buttercup, meadow buttercup and sweet vernal grass – all of which are becoming scarce in the wider Norfolk countryside. You are doing a grand job!”

In additon to the wild plant species that have been identified, there is a succession of spring bulbs from January onwards, namely snowdrop, wild daffodil (or lent lily) and bluebells. These may have been planted initially but have now naturalised throughout the churchyard.

The area in front of the church on the south side has been designated the main conservation area and left to grow as a wild flower meadow.

Significant plants in the churchyard
Scientific NameCommon NameDAFOR
Wild Flowers  
Arum maculatumLords and ladiesO
Centaurea nigraCommon knapweedO
Conopodium majusPignutF
Ficaria vernaLesser celandineO
Hyacinthoides non-scriptaNative bluebellO
Hypochaeris radicataCat’s earO
Lathyrus pratensisMeadow vetchlingO
Ranunculus acrisMeadow buttercupLF
Ranunculus bulbosusBulbous buttercupLF
Rumex acetosaCommon sorrelF
Stellaria gramineaLesser stitchwortO
Veronica chamaedrysGermander speedwellF
Grasses / Sedges / Wood rushes 
Anthoxanthemum odoratumSweet vernal grassO
Luzula campestrisField woodrush O
Trisetum flavescensYellow oat grassO

DAFOR (Dominant, Abundant, Frequent, Occasional, Rare) is the system used for recording the frequency of plants across the churchyard. In addition, LF stands for ‘locally frequent’, which is used to indicate that a species is frequent in one part of the churchyard but does not occur so often in other parts.

Managing the Churchyard for Wildlife

The NWT has proposed the following management proposal for the churchyard:
 Continue to mow paths around the yard regularly in the growing season.
 Wildflower Areas – Continue to leave areas for wildflower growth between spring and late July. They should then be cut short, and ideally have the cuttings raked off. The areas can then be kept short mown, along with the wider churchyard for the rest of the growing season.
Removal of the cut material is vital after mowing, as otherwise the cuttings will form a mulch, encouraging a build-up of nutrients and coarser species such as nettle, dock and hogweed.

We are fortunate in being able to engage the help of the North East Norfolk Conservation Volunteers, local to North Walsham in the raking process.