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Coronation Meadows

A meadow in every county to mark 60 years since The Queen’s Coronation

June 05 2013

Plantlife's Joans HIll Farm reserve is one of those chosen to be Coronation Meadow.

Plantlife's Joans HIll Farm reserve is one of those chosen to be Coronation Meadow.

At the end of 2012, HRH The Prince of Wales suggested a remarkable nationwide project – a meadow in every county to mark the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation.

Dubbed 'Coronation Meadows' the first stage of his vision will launch today at Highgrove House, with the announcement of the first 60 flagship meadows.

Coronation Meadows are outstanding examples of flower-rich grasslands, surviving fragments that support our wildlife and which are often the result of years of careful management by generations of one family. Many have an annual hay cut and are grazed by hardy, native breeds of livestock. Coronation Meadows reflect the local character of the landscape; Martins’ Meadow in Suffolk has green-winged orchids and meadow saffron, whilst Cae Blaen-dyffryn in Carmarthenshire has whorled caraway and thousands of lesser butterfly-orchids.

Over 80% of the 60 meadows identified can trace an undisturbed history beyond the Coronation; many are truly ancient, dating back hundreds of years. The oldest so far is Loughborough Big Meadow in Leicestershire which can be traced back to 1762. They range in size from Therfield Heath in Hertfordshire at over 400 acres (and home to the largest population of pasque flowers in Britain) to Hayton Meadow in Shropshire at just ¾ of an acre. They are also home to quite astonishing displays of wild flowers – orchids, cowslips, buttercups and oxeye daisies in their thousands.

Coronation Meadows has three aims:

1. The first, the identification of a Coronation Meadow in each county, will be completed over the summer as meadows for the remaining counties are identified – there are candidates for nearly all of them.

2. The second stage is to identify sites within each county where green hay and seed from the Coronation Meadow can be used to restore or recreate new meadows, so fulfilling HRH’s original vision.

3. The final part of the project is perhaps the most ambitious – to map the UK’s remaining meadows. No such inventory currently exists (neither government nor conservation organisation has this information) but, with the help of the public, we hope to identify all the small pockets of flower-rich meadows that remain.

In a statement 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.’

'His Royal Highness has given us a challenge' explains Plantlife Chief Executive, Victoria Chester 'to conserve species and yet to maintain their essential wildness. In an age where we too often turn to the quick-fix of commercial ‘nectar mixes’, Coronation Meadows is both a celebration and a pledge to our children and grandchildren, using the floral riches of the past to create meadow gems for the future.'

'Restoring meadows is painstaking, long-term stuff – it is about our landscape history and our cultural heritage. Many of the meadows have local significance. For example, Welsh farms often had a Cae Ysbyty or “Hospital Field”, a flower-rich pasture where sick animals would recover from illness or injury faster than on conventional pasture. This project is so resonant because it reminds us just how spectacular and wildlife-rich our countryside can look – and the results can be simply breathtaking.'