The hedge laying is finished

The Crumblies Conservation Group on completing the hedge in Chapel Lane (Dec 2009)
The Crumblies Conservation Group on completing the hedge in Chapel Lane (Dec 2009)

After weeks of working every Thursday The Crumblies Conservation Group have completed laying the hedge on Chapel Lane leading to St Mary’s Sennicotts.

This has been the most satisfying, and as I reported before, ‘addictive’ process. The slow taming of a hedge which had not been touched for decades at times looked like an impossible job but through perseverance and methodical technique it was conquered.

Within two or three years the hedge will have re-established itself and will require regular cutting. For now users of Chapel Lane and St Mary’s will enjoy the regular pattern of stakes and binders, a technique developed to make hedgerows stock proof before the days of low cost barbed wire.

The Crumblies will now be returning to Brandy Hole Copse to complete laying a new hedge in the Local Nature Reserve (see links).

Here are some before and after photographs (click on the images to see full size).

the hedge line in Chapel Lane before work started (Sept 2009)
the hedge line in Chapel Lane before work started (Sept 2009)
the Chapel Lane hedge laid (Dec 2009)
the Chapel Lane hedge laid (Dec 2009)
Chapel Lane from the church before hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church before hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church after hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church after hedge laying
Continue Reading

Hedge laying is addictive

'The Crumblies' are here!

‘The Crumblies’ are here!

I have just had a new experience and it is addictive! This might sound a bit exaggerated when talking about hedge laying but I have caught the bug, off The Crumblies.

I hope to bring you the history of The Crumblies at some point but in broad terms they are a group of volunteers who have reached retirement but who wish to keep active and continue the tradition and skill of hedge laying while offering a public benefit. This in itself is inspirational in our modern times.

I came across them through Brandy Hole Copse and the work they have done to maintain and improve this nature reserve North West of Chichester. Here they manage tree growth and have also laid the Copse hedge beside the B2178.

St Mary's in 1929 with a tidier hedge.
St Mary's in 1929 with a managed hedge.

At about the same time I came across a photograph of the approach to St Mary’s Sennicotts on Chapel Lane. You will see from the black and white photograph a hedge at least under control.

Having discussed the idea with Peter he agreed they would tackle what probably amounted to the most challenging hedge in their history! What’s more they would start on his 80th birthday.

I agreed to help whenever possible and on my first outing I was hooked. We were fortunate to have a beautiful Autumn day and methodically we worked our way along the hedge. Selecting which growth to incorporate ┬áin the new hedge and which bits to cut out. Then carefully cutting it enough to lay down, weaving between the stakes and trimming off the tail. The Crumblies are a great bunch to work with. They have a solid work ethic, they enjoy their work and each other’s company. They were very kind to let me join them and we all got stuck in – although I did keep stopping to take photographs because the finished effect is magical – pure English countryside at its finest: the mark of ‘handmade’ by men who take pride in their work.

I’ve included some photographs below and I will update you as we make progress.

The view of St Mary's from Chapel Lane before work starts.
The view of St Mary's from Chapel Lane before work starts.
The view of St Mary's opening up a little.
The view of St Mary's Sennicotts opening up a little.
Hand made tools - a Yew mallet over 15 years old and going strong.
Hand made tools - a Yew mallet over 15 years old and going strong.
Adding the hazel binders before cutting the tops from the stakes
Adding the hazel binders before cutting the tops from the stakes
Continue Reading