Meadow lark

This is the last chance for a while for the public to see the Hemingford Meadow described in a new book - on Friday contractors move in to prepare it for thousands of Bank Holiday visitors to the three-day St Ives on Water festival, the largest event in t

This is the last chance for a while for the public to see the Hemingford Meadow described in a new book - on Friday contractors move in to prepare it for thousands of Bank Holiday visitors to the three-day St Ives on Water festival, the largest event in the meadow's 1,000-year history.

The Great Meadow is botanist Bridget Smith's new history of Hemingford Grey Meadow, the vista stretching from the ancient bridge in St Ives to the edge of the village.

For many centuries the meadow provided hay in summer and grazing in autumn and winter.

"Because of this traditional management there are many different wild flowers and grasses, both in the meadow and along the river bank," Bridget said. "People have always used it for recreation once the hay is cut, and it has even been used as an informal airfield and as a horse-racing course.


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"In winter it is vital for holding floodwater that might otherwise damage homes in the Hemingfords and in St Ives."

The author, who has been studying the meadow for most of the 30 years she has lived in Hemingford Grey, is a parish councillor and a former chairman of St Ives Civic Society. So it is no surprise that the short book blends botany, natural history and social history.

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- The Great Meadow by Bridget Smith is published by The Hemingfords Local History Society, price £1.95. It is available from the village shop in Hemingford Grey, the Norris Museum and Walkers Books in St Ives, and will be available at the Inland Waterways Association festival from August 25 to 27.

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