Millennium Hedgelaying Project


The Millennium Hedge Project predated the Society as a joint project between Lynsted Parish Council and Lynsted and Norton Primary School. The hedge was planted in December 1997. Length 170m (184yd). The project ran from 2007 when we received training in the art.

When the Society was created, the hedge was maturing to a point where hedgelaying was a possibility. With the agreement of all parties, the Society found volunteers to attend a workshop on hedgelaying followed by the completion of the process over several weekends. The Plant-List and Identification Guide is at the bottom of this page.

Looking back to the beginning of this project, it is astounding how a plain laneside (Cambridge Lane) has now been enriched by the efforts of hardy individuals who first prepared the ground and planted the hedge, followed by those who learned to lay the hedge. The diversity of planting means that this hedge has evolved into a cheery seasonal display. Hedgelaying is designed to create a natural stock-proof barrier that also supports wildlife. It is fair to say that everyone involved had a good time learning a dying art.

We drew on people with long links to the Parish as well as 'newcomers' and at least one from much further afield, including our good friend Andy, from Ramsgate (who had a Norton Parish link).

A lot of hard work and free time has been given to make this project a success and particular thanks went to Ken Diamond, Bob Baxter, Jenny and Graham Sargent, Kevin Barrett, Ken Northfield, Trish Murphy, Frank and Judith Oldham, Neil Anderson, Tom English, Andy McElevy, Kevin Castle, Jonathan Jackson, Tom, Ben and Emily Meek, Brian Pond, Len Scott, Martin Lewis and Jack, Robin and Mary Fielding, Nigel and Lis Heriz-Smith, Mike Hudson and finally John Flower the Master hedge-layer who showed us the way. We hope we have not left anyone out but apologise if we have. The end result is something we can all be proud of.

20th Anniversary of the Millennium Hedge - Dr Bob Baxter

Lynsted's Hedge to Mark the Millennium thrives on.

The year 2020 is the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of Lynsted's Community Hedge for the Millennium. It continues to thrive as a lasting, living memorial.

Bob Baxter beside the Millennium Hedge in August 2020 Anniversary

The hedge today (2020) with the writer for scale.

Project Leader, John Jackson demonstrating hedgelaying techniques

Hedge-laying project leader John Jackson demonstrates the trimming of a binder. Note in the background the posts, interwoven band of binders and pleached stems of existing hedge shrubs. Winter 2007/8.

Breaking ground in 1997 in preparation for 2000 dedication
Breaking ground, 1997. L to r: Martin Hall, Kentish Stour Countryside Project; Ian Baron; Graham Allen; Ray Clark, Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men, Lynsted Branch; Tom English, chairman, Lynsted Parish Council; the writer. Photo Kent Messenger Group.
Inauguration with land-owners Mr and Mrs Read
Barbara and Eddie Read with Tom English (and the plaque ready to unveil) at the Inauguration, May 2000.

The inauguration party, on a sunny 5th May, 2000, involved dances and singing by the children of Lynsted and Norton Primary School, the award of commemorative mugs to the children, a presentation to landowners Eddie and Barbara Read and the unveiling of a special plaque by the parish council chairman, Tom English. Members of the parish council, borough council and the local community enjoyed the event.

In fact the hedge mix had been planted back in 1997, so there could be something to inaugurate when 2000 actually arrived!

It was a Lynsted Parish Council initiative, with the writer the councillor nominated to coordinate matters. Guidance was provided by Martin Hall of the Stour Valley Countryside Project. Roy Taylor kindly dug a trench with his JCB and the Lynsted Branch of the Association of the Men of Kent and Kentish Men paid for the plants. Financial support was obtained from Kent Rural Community Council, Swale Borough Council and Shell Employee Action. The hedge was a standard mixture composed of species native to Kent, with the exception that hawthorn was replaced by blackthorn: hawthorn was not used in traditional orchard areas such as ours, since it could harbour and transmit the serious fire-blight disease of apple and pear trees. The shrub species included: blackthorn, dogwood, hazel, spindle, holly, field maple, dog rose, wayfaring tree, guelder-rose, gorse and broom. In addition, specimens of native trees, English (common) oak, hornbeam and ash, were planted at intervals along the hedge. In all 1315 specimens were planted by the children of Lynsted and Norton Primary School, their staff, and numerous members of the community.

The hedge has subsequently grown well. Its youthful exuberance was tamed in 2007, when the hedge was ten years old. Under the leadership of parishioner John Jackson, the hedge was subjected to a 'laying' . This operation was carried out under the auspices of the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society after a demonstration of the necessary techniques by hedge laying expert John Flower. Hedge laying is a traditional way of making a hedge tight, manageable and stockproof. About two thirds of the bulk of the hedge was cut down and removed. The remaining stems were partly cut through ('pleached') to allow them to be bent to 45 degrees and woven between wooden uprights ('posts') driven into the ground at half-metre intervals. The arrangement was stabilised by bands of overlapping hazel withies, or 'binders'. Stems to make these were kindly supplied by Kingsdown farmer Neil Anderson. These were trimmed to size and woven between the posts near their tops. About two dozen volunteers were involved over the winter's operation. By general agreement, our rural craftsman- (and craftwoman-)ship resulted in a rustic 'thing of great beauty'!

Since then the hedge has grown on, and remains in fine shape, thanks to the regular trimming arranged through Neil. All the species planted are still represented, although the proportions have changed. Where blackthorn was planted in largest numbers initially, specimens are now hard to find. Dogwood, however, has burgeoned, as has hazel. Specimens of all three tree species (eight in all) are now tall and strong. There are some dead branches on the ash, however. This might be an early sign of the deadly ash dieback disease, that, sadly, has destroyed swathes of this species elsewhere in the country, including Kent. I hope our trees are not infected; recent experience is indicating that ash trees in hedgerows are less likely to succumb than those massed in woodlands.

The dedication plaque at the eastern end of the Hedge needed to be removed while the current owners of the field, Malcolm and Carol, made changes to the field entrance. It has since been repositioned, in a more accessible spot, by Lynsted with Kingsdown parish councillor Clive Dawes and his wife Anne.

For those not familiar with the Hedge, it lies on the north side of Cambridge Lane. This is the first turning to the left when travelling towards Lynsted Village from the A2 junction at the Coop store. It is 170 metres long, begins 20 metres from the corner, and stretches to the entrance gate to the field. Post code ME9 9JB, or grid reference TQ 951618. There is a species list near the plaque at the field entrance. Come and have a look at your unique, living millennium marker!

Bob Baxter
RB 12.8.20


SPECIES LIST Leaf Flower Fruit/Seed Twig Bark
Blackthorn (Sloe) Prunus spinosa Leaf of Blackthorne or Sloe Flower of Blackthorne or Sloe fruit of Blackthorne or Sloe Twig of Blackthorne or Sloe Bark of Blackthorne or Sloe
Dogwood Cornus sanguinea Leaf of Dogwood Flower of Dogwood Berry of Dogwood Twig of Dogwood Bark of Dogwood
Hazel Corylus avellana Leaf of the Hazel Flower of the Hazel Nut of the Hazel Twig of the Hazel Bark of the Hazel
Spindle Euonymus europaeus Leaf of the Spindle Flower of the Spindle Fruit of the Spindle Twig of the Spindle Bark of the Spindle
Holly Ilex aquifolium Leaf of the Holly Flower of the Holly Berry of the Holly Twig of the Holly Bark of the Holly
Field maple Acer campestre Leaf of the Field Maple Flower of the Field Maple Seed of the Field Maple Twig of the Field Maple Bark of the Field Maple
Dog rose Rosa canina Leaf of the Dog Rose Flower of the Dog Rose Hips of the Dog Rose Twig of the Dog Rose Bark of the Dog Rose
Wayfaring tree Vibernum lanata Leaf of the Wayfaring Tree Tree of the Wayfaring Tree Berry of the Wayfaring Tree Twig of the Wayfaring Tree Bark of the Wayfaring Tree
Guelder rose Vibernum opulus Leaf of the Guelder Rose Flower of the Guelder Rose berry of the Guelder Rose Twig of the Guelder Rose Bark of the Guelder Rose
Gorse Ulex europaeus Leaf/Spines of the Gorse Flower of the Gorse Pods of the Gorse Twig of the Gorse Bark of the Gorse
Broom Cytisus scoparius Leaf of the Broom Flower of the Broom Pods of the Broom Twig of the Broom Bark of the Broom
English oak Quercus robur Leaf of the English Oak Flower of the English Oak Acorn of the English Oak Twig of the English Oak Bark of the English Oak
Hornbeam Carpinus betulus Leaf of the Hornbeam Flower/catkin of the Hornbeam Seed of the Hornbeam Twig of the Hornbeam Bark of the Hornbeam
English Ash Fraxinus excelsior Composite Leaf of the English Ash Flower of the English Ash Seed of English/Common Ash Twig of Common English Ash


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