Combe St. Nicholas Parochial Trust (Registered Charity No 1072852)
What is it?
The field, woodland areas and pond at the junction of Underway and Combe Hill, known as Underway Meade, has belonged since 1998 to the Combe St Nicholas Parochial Trust. This charitable organisation is required to retain it as a parish amenity promoting the conservation of wildlife and the environment, encouraging enjoyment, recreation and educational activities for the local community. The trustees have worked hard to achieve these aims and to maintain the Meade for the benefit of local people.
Where is it?
Who can use it?
Everyone is welcome to visit Underway Meade. Please tread carefully as the paths can be slippery in wet weather, and the woodland and fields are very uneven, while the pond is deep! Dogs are welcome but please clean up after them. There is a dog waste bin by the main gate, and an ordinary rubbish bin in the fenced picnic/play area.
What is the field’s history?
The mound is thought by some to have been a bronze age mini hill fort or animal pound, although this is by no means certain. There is however evidence that there was a small flint quarry and an iron age foundry on the site. In 2000, as part of a stone age pot-making event held in the Meade, visiting expert Mr Coleman-Smith made several discoveries, including two stone age knives, a medieval horseshoe, fragments from a medieval jug and the base of a 17th/18th century porringer, as well as evidence of considerable iron casting based on large deposits of moulding sand on the upper side of the leat. The leat served Wadeford Corn Mill further downstream where it joins the River Isle.
The Golden Hart (or Heart) Inn was situated where the pond is now. This thatched building burnt down in the 1890s, as the horse-drawn Chard Fire Brigade engine was unable to reach the fire in time. According to a report in the Chard and Ilminster News, “The cart-house was burnt down and the dwelling house in flames when a man called at the inn. Nearly all the furniture, two carts, and whole of the beer and spirits destroyed. The Chard fire engine arrived some time after the discovery of the fire, but it was found impossible to save the house, the roof being of thatch, and it was totally destroyed”.
Between the first and second world wars, the Symes family had a workshop by the upper pedestrian entrance, where there is now a memorial plaque which reads “Dedicated to the memory of Frank, Jack and Charlie Symes who gave their lives in the service of their country”.
The picture shows John Symes unveiling the plaque at the official opening of the Meade on 3rd June 2002, timed to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Some beech trees on the mound were planted by school children from mast which they raised from trees on the Lawns and in Whitehall Farm.
If anyone has more information on the history of the Meade, or any pictures, please contact the trustees who will be delighted to add it to this website.
Natural history in the Meade
The Meade was designated as a local wildlife site in 1999. A plant survey carried out in 2015 identified 167 individual species. We have planted a range of bee friendly flowers and trees. We manage the pond for wildlife, and it supports a wide range of pond life including palmate newts, as well as resident water voles and nesting moorhens. Butterflies, moths and other insects abound, particularly on the mound, which is grazed in the autumn to improve biodiversity. Birds enjoy the feeder and nest boxes, foxes and badgers are regular visitors, and we even had a glow worm one year.
What is happening now?
Looking after the Meade
The roadside hedge is cut by a professional contractor but the rest is done by our trustees and volunteers. Ongoing tasks include mowing the grass, cutting back vegetation, weeding, checking the nest boxes, maintaining the benches, wood chipping, spreading chippings on the paths, pond maintenance, hedgelaying, flower planting, and controlling the brambles.
Finding out what you want
We carried out a consultation in 2016 to determine what further improvements to the Meade would be welcomed by the local community, and we keep in regular touch with the community via the local Cloverleaf magazine, our AGMs to which all are warmly invited, and our Friends’ scheme (see details below). If you have any suggestions, please get in touch or come to our AGM in May which will be advertised near to the date.
We have had support from the Blackdown Hills AONB Natural Futures Project, Wessex Water, the Woodland Trust, Somerset County Council’s Health and Wellbeing and Improving Lives schemes, Tesco’s “Bags of Help”, the National Lottery “Awards for All”, the Neroche Volunteers, and donations from Combe Parish Council, Combe and Wadeford Gala Committee, Local Ladies, Combe St Nicholas Art Group, Combe Village shop and various individuals. With the exception of the Natural Futures project, such funding has all been for one-off specific projects such as the creation of new paths, bird and bat boxes, secure storage, picnic benches, trees and fencing.
How can you get involved?
Becoming a Friend
Becoming a Friend of the Meade for £10 a year helps maintain and develop this lovely community asset for current and future generations to enjoy. We are very grateful to those trustees and volunteers who provide their labour free of charge, but unavoidable regular costs alone amount to about £750 a year, including Public Liability insurance, roadside hedge trimming, petrol and tool maintenance, and there are often one-off costs such as materials or equipment hire. Small regular annual donations really do help!
Supporting our events
From time to time, we hold events in the Meade or to raise money for it. These have included a bug hotel building session, a Big Lunch community picnic, moth trapping, tree and flower planting by children from the village school, quizzes in the village hall, and training sessions in hedgelaying, pond management and scything. Our events are advertised via posters, in the Cloverleaf Magazine and via our Facebook (Underway Meade, Combe St Nicholas) and Twitter (@UnderwayMeade) pages.
From time to time, we hold specific events such as flower planting, bramble bashing, hedgelaying or pond clearance. These are advertised as detailed above. Volunteers regularly cut the grass and help with tasks like strimming along the paths. We also hold working sessions, usually for an hour or two on Saturday mornings starting at 10am, but days and timings vary depending on helpers’ availability, so please check first. We already have a few stalwart helpers, but more are always welcome, so if you would like to join us, please get in touch.
Contacts for further information:
Lynn Osborne (Chair): [email protected] 0780 392 8717
Sue Pargeter (Secretary): [email protected] 07981 233 089
Who are the trustees?
The current trustees are:
- Lynn Osborne (Chairman)
- Chris Palmer (Treasurer)
- Sue Pargeter (Secretary)
- Bill Rankin
- Patrick Stenning
- Roberta Boud
- Steve Osborne
- Sarah Packham