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BLOFIELD ST. ANDREW AND ST. PETER
Size: 1.2 ha (3 acres).
Grid reference: TG 335 091.
Habitats: Lowland grassland, scrub, hedgerows.
Main conservation interest: Floristically-rich lowland grassland.
Conservation status: Included in the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Churchyard Conservation Scheme.
Management: In the care of Blofield PCC. Part-managed by BADCOG since 1984 in collaboration with the PCC & NWT.
Location: Blofield churchyard is on the southern edge of the village.
How to get there: If approaching from The Street in Blofield village or from Yarmouth Road, follow the signs for Brundall, turning into Stocks Lane at the main crossroads. Church Road is on the left-hand side at the grass triangle.
Parking: There is ample parking space alongside the church.
This large, varied site contains what has been described as one of Norfolk Wildlife Trust's 'showpiece' churchyard conservation scheme areas. The conservation area contains unimproved grassland which supports an ancient hay meadow flora with an abundance of oxeye daisy, meadow vetchling, common knapweed, yarrow, and hairy tare. Overall, the churchyard supports an extensive assemblage of plants including bulbous buttercup, pignut, lady's bedstraw, meadow saxifrage, harebell, hop, rock stonecrop and a number of sedges. A list of the plants recorded is displayed in the church porch. Many of the old headstones, particularly those made of limestone, are coated in a rich assemblage of lichens, as is the impressive church tower. In addition, pellitory-of-the-wall, mind-your-own-business and colonies of intermediate polypody and hart's-tongue ferns are found growing on the stonework.
An impressive row of mature limes (planted in 1820) growing along the northern boundary of the churchyard greets the visitor. The eastern and southern perimeters are of a wooded nature with lime, yew, oak, holly, beech and ash. Growing around and beneath these are dog's mercury and primrose. The tiny, inconspicuous moschatel ('town hall clock') can be found adjacent to the shady Braydeston footpath which leaves the churchyard on the southern side.
Mammals known to be present include Pipistrelle bats, hedgehog, and short-tailed vole. Tawny owls frequent the larger, mature trees. Common pheasant, red-legged partridge, and sometimes even domesticated hens visit the site.
The NWT churchyard conservation scheme area is managed as a traditional hay meadow. BADCOG, with the help and enthusiasm of local parishioners, undertakes summer mowing, largely as it was done over many preceding centuries. The grassland is cut in July with some areas cut again in autumn. If the weather is fine and sunny when the grassland is cut, it can be dried and collected later as hay. Prior to BADCOG's involvement, the northern and southern sides of the churchyard were dominated by rank vegetation, particularly bramble. These areas have subsequently been restored to low, open swards of grasses and flowering plants. Late May to July is the main flowering period, when the churchyard becomes a magnificent wildlife spectacle.
The main conservation aim is to maintain the species-rich grassland by traditional management, and in conjunction with this, encourage a variety of native trees and shrubs in places. Several species have been planted, including buckthorn, spindle, wayfaring-tree, wild pear and wild service-tree. A few patches of longer grasses and nettles are maintained to provide egg-laying sites and larval food supplies for breeding butterflies and other small animals.
When to visit: In spring for violets, primroses and moschatel; early summer for an impressive display of flowering oxeye daisy, and in late summer for harebells.
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