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HEMBLINGTON ALL SAINTS
Size: 0.4 ha (1 acre).
Grid reference: TG 352 115.
Habitats: Lowland grassland, hedgerow, roadside verge.
Main conservation interest: Lowland grassland.
Conservation status: Included in the NWT Churchyard Conservation Scheme.
Management: In the care of Hemblington PCC. Part-managed by BADCOG since 1985 in collaboration with the PCC & NWT.
Location: Hemblington churchyard is north of Hemblington Hall.
How to get there: It can be reached by turning north off Hemblington Hall Road at grid ref. TG 351113 or west off Burlingham Road at TG 358 119.
Parking: There is a car parking space opposite the churchyard entrance, on the south side of the small woodland belt. Please take care not to obstruct the narrow road.
In contrast to Blofield, this is more typical churchyard in terms of size. The southern part supports an ancient hay meadow flora which may have persisted since at least Anglo Saxon times. This part, and the western hedgerow and roadside verge, are managed by BADCOG. The northern half supports coarse grassland with abundant hogweed and this is reserved for burials.
A large proportion of the best, unimproved grassland is included within a conservation area marked with pegs. A list of the plants recorded is displayed in the church porch. These include cuckooflower, crosswort, oxeye daisy, primrose, barren strawberry, common sorrel, greater bird's-foot-trefoil, meadow vetchling, common knapweed and star-of-Bethlehem. Spurge-laurel, snowdrop and bluebell also occur in the churchyard. The old headstones are also important for their assemblages of lichens. The southern and part of the eastern boundaries are lined with a row of Italian poplars and cherry laurel. The western hedgerow is an excellent feature, being diverse, tall and wide, with a herb rich grassland verge on the outer side.
The churchyard fauna includes common blue, meadow brown, small skipper, large skipper and gatekeeper butterflies, short-tailed vole, water shrew and common toad. Records indicate that swifts at one time nested in the church roof however, there has been no sign of them nesting in resent years.
The conservation area is managed as a traditional hay meadow, largely how it may have been managed over many preceding centuries, with mowing at the end of June and an additional cut in late autumn or winter. If the weather is fine and sunny when the grassland is cut, it is dried and collected later as hay.
The main conservation aim is to maintain the species-rich grassland in the southern half of the churchyard. A wide border around the perimeter of the grassland is cut on a different rotation and at longer intervals than the rest to ensure that there is always a strip of longer grasses to provide egg-laying sites and larval food supplies for breeding
butterflies and other invertebrates.
When to visit: In February for snowdrops, May for star-of-Bethlehem, June for crosswort and oxeye daisy, and in July for butterflies.
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