Wednesday, 19 April 2017 00:00

Ancient bluebell wood set to give up its spectacular secret

Written by  The All Things Norfolk Team
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Ancient bluebell wood set to give up its spectacular secret

The owners of a spectacular bluebell wood which, until last year, had lain hidden from public gaze for centuries will be holding five open days this year in aid of an Aylsham-based charity.

Having introduced a little more light into the ancient five-acre wood through sensitive coppicing, keen conservationists Andrew and Caroline Morton believe the dazzling  spectacular, with its wonderful scent, will be more breathtaking than ever.

The tranquil bluebell wood is the jewel in the crown of the Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park, seven miles north of Norwich at Hainford. Designed as a place where people can feel at one with nature, it has become a popular alternative to Norfolk’s traditional lay-to-rest provision since it opened just over a year ago.

For generations a shimmering, heady-scented, sapphire-and-emerald carpet bloomed in the wood each spring, but its existence was generally unknown as the location was surrounded by farmed fields.

The Morton family, from nearby Skeyton, have been beguiled by the wood’s beauty and calming atmosphere since they acquired it as part of a land purchase nine years ago.

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Andrew and Caroline Morton, owners of Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park

Now they want to share its beauty with all-comers during a series of free open days April 22 & 23, 29 & 30 and Bank Holiday Monday, May 1, from 10am-4pm daily.

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“Last year’s display was spectacular – and this year’s looks likely to be just as good....maybe better,” said Senior Park Warden Matthew Greaves. “The bluebells look likely to bloom slightly earlier this year – the mild weather has pushed them on a little bit. The trees are very, very old but fortunately all but one survived February’s gales.”

There is no charge for entry to the open days, a mobility buggy is available and well-behaved dogs on leads will be welcome. Visitors are encouraged to take their cameras and enter their best shots in a photography competition.

Refreshments will be available, with a donation from proceeds going to Aylsham & District Care Trust, a dementia support services charity which is close to the Morton family’s hearts.

Mr Greaves said that since the 18-acre Bluebell Wood Burial Park opened for business, hundreds of visitors, from as far afield as Cambridge and Ipswich, had been enchanted by the tranquillity and variety of nature-orientated provision.

“In fact I only know of one person who has come to view what we have to offer who has said ‘It’s not for me,’” said Mr Greaves, who has more than 16 years’ experience working within the woodland burial sector.

Four distinct woodland and wildflower meadow habitats have been created at the 18-acre burial park, where almost 5000 saplings have been planted. The Mortons hope to increase the biodiversity of the site with the creation of three wildlife ponds.

Work is also scheduled to begin soon on an environmentally-friendly cedar hall, offering a venue for services, ceremonies and wakes, which will increase the capacity of the current Woodland Meadow venue from 100 to 150.

“People have their own reasons for being drawn to specific areas of the park,” said Mr Greaves. “Some like the beauty of the shady bluebell wood, while some prefer the sunny spots. Others are guided in their preference by price and whether they want interment or ash-scattering.”

Of the plots sold so far at least half have been purchased by far-sighted individuals who have fallen in love with Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park and already know they want to be buried there one day. 

The popularity of the park has led to the creation of two part-time jobs at the park.

Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park offers full burial, ash interment and ash scattering with families being able to choose their preference of habitat in which to lay their loved one to rest. Single and double-depth plots are available.

For almost 300 years, the Park’s land played an important role in the global understanding of the effects the seasons have on plants and animals. The 1792 map of Norfolk clearly marks the site as ‘Old Lady’s Wood’. The estate was the home of Robert Marsham who was an English naturalist and founding father of phenology – the study of the effects of the seasons on plants and animals.

Norfolk Bluebell Wood Burial Park is located just off the A140 Norwich to Cromer Road, on Old Church Road Hainford NR10 3BG. For more information call 07557 200 398 or visit  www.norfolkbluebellwood.co.uk

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