Ancient Battle meadow a jewel in the crown

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A MEADOW in Battle has been selected to take part in an ambitious project to restore the UK’s threatened wildflower meadows.

Coach Road Field, on the Beech Estate, has been named one of 60 Coronation Meadows to mark the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

At the end of 2012, HRH The Prince of Wales suggested the remarkable nationwide project.

The first stage of Coronation Meadows was launched at Highgrove House, The Prince’s home in Gloucestershire, last week.

Keith Datchler OBE, estate manager of the Beech Estate, was invited to be a part of the steering committee for the project.

Mr Datchler attended last week’s launch.

He said: “The project aimed to identify 60 surviving meadows and each of those meadows to be in a different county.

“From these 60, the aim is to make 60 new ones, using those meadows as seed.

“This is a project which will grow and grow in the future.”

The project also aims to map the UK’s surviving meadows.

No such inventory currently exists.

Just two or three percent of the country’s ancient meadows survive today.

Mr Datchler said: “The Prince wants to ensure our grandchildren do not have to open a book to see a meadow.

“That they can actually take their children by the hand and walk through one.”

Coach Road Field is the only meadow to be selected in East Sussex.

Mr Datchler said: “As far as anyone can remember, it has never been anything other than a pure meadow.

“It’s got a unique position - isolated with a road running through it, so it’s very difficult for grazing.”

He added: “The Weald Meadows Partnership surveyed the field and there’s a number of species in the field which backs up folklore that it has never been ploughed.”

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales said: “My Coronation Meadows idea came to me when I read Plantlife’s 2012 report and fully appreciated just how many wildflower meadows had been lost over the past 60 years.

“This year, we are celebrating my mother’s coronation so surely there is no better moment to end this destruction and to stimulate a new mood to protect our remaining meadows and to use them as springboards for the restoration of other sites and the creation of new meadows right across the UK.”

The Coronation Meadows Partnership is made up of Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron of all three charities.