Description of Bingham’s Hedges

Chapel Lane area

The leaf of the wild privet is narrower and longer than the usual hedge variety, but the flower is similar.
Photo: Peter Allen

The area between the A46 and old Chapel Lane, north of the railway line is now only seven fields, but it is the northern part of the medieval Chapel Field and in 1776 there was a patchwork of over forty fields here, many of them narrow, strip fields off Chapel Lane. Now, the whole length of the old Chapel Lane is bordered on the west by an excellent mixed hedge with many uncommon species including spindle, hazel, dogwood and field maple. This hedge, with an average species count of 6.4, the highest in the parish, is likely to be the remains of the front boundary hedges of those closes. All the other hedges in the area north of a line running west from Moor Bridge give averages over 3.5 species, mostly well over 4, indicating that this was a significant area of Elizabethan enclosure.

Brocker Farm

The next large area of possible Elizabethan hedges is between Derry Lane and Brocker Farm. The area is the southern part of the medieval East Moor, part of which was known to be under cultivation in 1586. Some of the old hedges are along the parish boundary, which follows New Lane before turning north-west towards the railway line, but nearly all the hedges westwards to Carnarvon School and north of the farm track that lies parallel to the A52 are mixed. Species averages range up to 5.5. It is in this area that purging buckthorn is common. Other species that are common here include field maple, crab apple, damson, wild privet and dogwood. There is only one occurrence of hazel. Wych elm is not at all as common here as it is in other parts of the parish. As with Chapel Lane, several closes were shown on the 1776 map of this area, which may date from Elizabethan times.

Roadside hedges

Remnants of hedges that may have originally been mixed are found along Nottingham Road and Grantham Road. These are old roads and though these hedges may be ancient none has escaped damage or modification. Thus, the species averages are mostly between 3 and 4. Some may appear as hawthorn dominant and have not been characterised as mixed. Many of them contain damson and the hedge on the north side of Grantham Road opposite the police station is predominantly damson. This tree was widely grown in Bingham’s orchards. The hedge that forms the eastern boundary to Walker’s Field has an average of 4, but lacks the unusual species typical of the other mixed hedges. Instead it contains holly, cherry and sycamore. Holly is found as relatively recent plantings in Fosters Lane nearby. Cherry was grown in orchards near here in the nineteenth century, while sycamore may have become established in them since these hedges ceased to be properly maintained as hedges. This hedge is mostly pre-1776, but has been modified during the re-alignment of the Grantham Road.

The hedges along Tithby Road are hawthorn dominant characteristically with hawthorn, blackthorn and rose. Species averages are usually 2 – 3. Small-leafed elm, ash and dogwood all occur rather uncommonly, but these hedges have all be enriched by recent planting of such shrubs as purging buckthorn, hazel, spindle and field maple in gaps created by the removal of elder. The hedge along the west side of Granby Lane is similar, but with crab apple and wych elm in addition to hawthorn, blackthorn and rose.

Bingham is famous for its orchards and damson was widely grown in the nineteenth century. Here it forms a hedge along Grantham Road.
Photo: Peter Allen

Town hedges

The Sanderson map shows a field pattern for the area of Bingham that probably had not changed since at least the 16th century. There were many long, narrow closes behind cottages running north-south off the main east-west roads; Long Acre (Husbandman Street in pre-nineteenth century times), Nottingham Road, Grantham Road, The Banks and Newgate Street. Very few of these old hedges have survived the growth of urban Bingham. One that has is along the east side of Dark Lane. Though much interrupted by gateways, short stretches of it remain as front garden hedges. Ignoring the recent garden introductions and seedlings this still has a total species count of nine including hazel, which seems to be characteristic of old hedges, and wild privet. The average is 6. Another remnant is the hedge along the northern part of the eastern boundary of Robert Miles Junior School playing field, which contains hazel. It is the original eastern boundary of the rectory grounds, which were known to be here in 1586. Similar remnants of old hedges may still survive as garden boundaries elsewhere in the town. One particularly interesting hedge in the town is the yew hedge in the Robert Miles Junior School grounds. The yew hedge is said to be 360 years old.

Hawthorn Enclosure hedges

North of the railway line very few of the hedges shown on Sanderson’s map and probably attributable to the 1680-90 enclosure period now remain. Among those that do the species range is limited. They are primarily hawthorn hedges with rose and elder. Blackthorn and ash are occasionally found. Wych elm is rare. The most interesting set of hedges here are the ones that line the western side of the track that leads from the end of Moor Lane towards the Margidunum roundabout ending at the southern boundary of what used to be Bull Moor. This is believed to be the original, possibly Medieval road from Bingham to East Bridgford. It runs across West Moor and may not have been hedged in Elizabethan times. Unusually for hawthorn enclosure hedges it contains wild privet in addition to hawthorn, elder, rose, ash and blackthorn.

Elder is the fourth most common shrub in the hedgerows of Bingham. It is a short-lived species, but colonises easily.
Photo: Peter Allen

South of the A52 and east of the Linear Park the hedges have almost all gone. Those that remain are shown on Sanderson and all but three are pre-1776. Despite low average species they have an interesting diversity. They are basically hawthorn hedges. Elder, blackthorn and, less commonly rose, are the commonest additional hedge species. Ash, wych elm and small-leaved elm are the tree species probably planted with the hawthorn for coppicing or timber. In addition, however, field maple, hazel and wild privet occur in one or two places, indicating, perhaps, that some very old hedges may have been incorporated in the new hawthorn ones. Part of this area consists of land that was not owned by the Earl of Chesterfield, but may have been one of the estates that originated from the other medieval manors in Bingham. Nothing is known of the enclosure history in these areas.

Between Tithby Road and the Linear Park there is a similar drastic reduction in the number of hedges. Of those that remain the species average ranges from 1.4 to 3.0. There is no particular pattern to them. Two of these hedges are blackthorn dominant West of Tithby Road most of the hedges shown on Sanderson remain. This was the area where traditional farming practices continued the longest in the parish. Including the possibly old mixed hedges, fourteen species are found in them. The main ones are hawthorn (100% of hedges), blackthorn (75%), rose and elder (each 55%), ash and field maple (each 43%) and crab apple (25%). Other species are wych elm and small-leaved elm, oak, dogwood (3 hedges), hazel (2 hedges), wild privet (2 hedges) and purging buckthorn (2 hedges). Most of these hedges average between 2 and 3 species. There is no discernable pattern to the spread of the averages, even around the boundaries of a single field, and even hedges with very low averages may have several species spread thinly. Some of those with low averages have characteristics of hedges that have been substantially replanted or repaired in the last 50 to 100 years. On both sides of Tithby Road, the hedges on Whitefields and Spring farms, have been substantially modified in the last few years by the addition of several species to fill gaps, many made by grubbing up elder. These include, blackthorn, field maple, spindle, purging buckthorn, hazel and even willow.

Top Brackendale Farm

There are several relatively species rich hedges in the area between Top Brackendale Farm and the now derelict Foss Farm on the A46 south of the Saxondale roundabout. This is within the area of the three medieval arable fields that were enclosed in 1680-90. They all coincide with hedges known to be pre-1776. Three of them are high species average mixed hedges. Two are boundaries to fields in what was called the Saxondale Lanes Closes and Cross Mears. Both are good, mixed hedges, one with hazel. The other, also with hazel is, is near Top Brackendale Farm and has no known association with any ancient boundary. Three other hedges have average species counts of less than 4, but one of them contains dogwood and wild privet. The other two lie along the medieval field boundaries between South and Brackendale fields. The species range for these hedges is 3.2 to 4.7. All the other hedges in this area are simple, hawthorn dominant pre-1776 hedges.

Parish boundary hedges

The medieval and Elizabethan practice of grazing sheep on the open fields of Bingham during the winter months suggests that good boundaries were needed to confine the animals. Much of the parish is bounded by deep drainage ditches and the River Smite, which would not need the addition of hedges to keep sheep in, but long stretches along the A46, Granby Lane and New Lane would have required hedges. Evidence for them, however, has largely been destroyed during road improvements when new or replacement hawthorn hedges were planted. This is particularly so along the A46 from Margidunum to the Moothouse Pit, where the one remaining stretch of probable Elizabethan hedge is to the north of Foss Road Farm, part of the set of hedges that bounded Lowker Close in Chapel Field.

From the A46 south-eastwards the parish boundary borders the medieval Brackendale Field. There were 16 closes along the boundary in 1776 and there was a lane along it for about one mile southwards from the A46. This was ploughed up within living memory. The hedges have a low species count (1 to 1.7 with one at 2.6) and are mainly hawthorn, but there are interesting very short lengths that are species rich and include wych elm, small-leaved elm and hazel. These are possibly all that remains of the original Elizabethan hedges here.

Blackthorn is the second most common hedgerow shrub. Here it grows intimately with hawthorn.
Photo: Peter Allen

The whole of the southern boundary from the Fosse Way eastwards to the Smite is marked by a major dyke. Hedges are discontinuous along it. There are occasional oak trees, which are not common in the parish, but traditionally have been used to mark boundaries. The hedges are rich in blackthorn and mostly it grows out of the northern side of the dyke. Species diversity is not great, but averages range from 2 to 4.7 with long stretches over 3. Even though they are now cut, at least on one side if not the top, it is most likely that these were never planted hedges, but grew naturally along the dyke and are now cut for the sake of tidiness. No age significance can be attributed to them. One interesting hedge is the short stretch along the Linear Park where the railway line, built in 1879, cut across the parish boundary. The hedge post-dates the railway. It has a species average of 3 and there are six different species in it. All are growing through the remains of a fence. Again, this is likely to be a self-generated hedge, not a planted one.

The partial hedges along the Smite have a similar origin to those along the southern boundary dyke. The Smite was straightened between 1883 and 1899, which gives perhaps, a possible oldest date for these hedges.

Common in the 1680-90 hedges, field maple is usually laid and cut with the hedge.
Photo: Peter Allen

From Thorough Bridge northwards along Granby Lane the hedges average 2.4 to 2.7. They are hawthorn hedges with some elder, blackthorn, rose, crab apple and wych elm. The hedge along the north side of the A52 from the end of Granby Lane to New Lane also has an average of 2.7, but the assemblage of species is totally different. It consists of hawthorn, ash, blackthorn, hazel, field maple and wild privet, all species characteristic of the probable Elizabethan hedges in this area. The adjacent field boundary, which is the southern two hundred metres of the parish boundary along New Lane, is a mixed hedge with an average of 4.7. It is likely, then, that the A52 stretch is also old, but has been adulterated with more recent planting of hawthorn to strengthen weakened lengths of hedge. The hedges along New Lane on either side of the entrance to Brocker Farm are modern replacement hedges.

The north-eastern boundary from New Lane to Margidunum, except for the stretch from New Lane to the railway line, is mostly along dykes. The hedge is discontinuous and, except where it is along the Holme Farm road, it is not well looked after. Species diversity is low. There is a lot of blackthorn in it and, like the southern boundary, it is probably natural growth along the dykes that has been cut for neatness.

1776 – 1840 hedges

There are a few hedges scattered about the parish that were not on the 1776 maps, but appeared for the first time either on Sanderson or the later Tithe map. The species averages range from 1 to 3, but the species range is low, mostly hawthorn, elder and rose. Blackthorn is rare as are ash and small-leafed elm. The most interesting is the western boundary to the area, now in Toot Hill school, that was designated as garden strips on the Tithe map of 1840.Perhaps it was the gardeners who planted crab apple with the hawthorn. This is the only hedge of this or younger age with crab apple.

There are several hedges in places that can be characterised only as pre-1840 because they lie outside the Chesterfield estate. Four of them are to the east of Carnarvon school. They are unexceptional except for one with an average of 4 that includes dogwood, wych elm, ash, hawthorn, rose, blackthorn and hawthorn.


Farm hedges that appear to have been created in the last fifty years are to be found near the buildings at Brocker Farm. Hedges on either side of the entrance to the farm along New Lane have been replanted in recent decades, while in the south-west of the parish there is one newly planted hedge near Lower Brackendale Farm that cannot be dated. Elsewhere, the new hedges are all associated with road building or improvement. These are along the new Chapel Lane, marginal to the Margidunum roundabout and along the A52. All the new farm boundary hedges here are primarily hawthorn. The species of hawthorn used along the A52 is said to be not an English native one, but Dutch in origin. After only 16 years some of these new hedges are colonised in places by blackthorn, rose and elder. This is possibly because only the field side of these hedges is cut and the embankment and verges on the other side are mostly allowed to grow wild. Along the A46 south of Saxondale roundabout, where the new hedge and the verge are cut, the hedge remains pure hawthorn.

Only one stretch of the hedge along new Chapel Lane appears to have been planted as a mixed hedge in 1969. Here wayfaring tree, rose, damson and spindle were mixed with hawthorn and blackthorn for about 150 metres.

In the 1987 planting along the A52 the whole of the hedge on the north side between the junction with Grantham Road and the Saxondale roundabout is mixed. This hedge was always planned to be marginal to housing developments rather than fields. There are four varieties of plum, along with wayfaring tree, dogwood, guelder rose, hazel, ash and spindle mixed in with the staples of hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple and dog rose.



Crab apple is quite common in the parish. It is recorded elsewhere as being purchased along with hawthorn and elm by landowners who were planting hedges in the 18th century. This might have happened here. It is usually cut in the hedge, as here, though some have been left to grow into trees.
Photo: Peter Allen


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