Gloucestershire’s Coronation Meadows

Did you know that 3rd July is National Meadows Day? Have you heard of Coronation Meadows? If not, read on.

National Meadows Day is an annual celebration of wildflower meadows across the UK and takes place on or around the first Saturday of July each year.

Wildflower rich meadows were once a common sight but all but a few have been lost to agricultural improvements, development or poor management. The statistics are startling. Over 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s, that’s 7.5 million acres; and species-rich grassland now only covers 1% of the UK’s land area and what remains is mostly in scattered fragments of just a few acres.

But flower rich meadows can be recreated.

This was a cause close to the heart of His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales who came up with the idea of Coronation Meadows in 2013 to celebrate 60 years since the Queen’s coronation. The Coronation Meadows website has the following message.

“My Coronation Meadows idea came to me when I read Plantlife’s 2012 report and fully appreciated just how many wildflower meadows had been lost over the past 60 years. This year, we are celebrating my mother’s coronation so surely there is no better moment to end this destruction and to stimulate a new mood to protect our remaining meadows and to use them as springboards for the restoration of other sites and the creation of new meadows right across the UK.”
HRH The Prince of Wales, March 2013

The Coronation Meadows Project is led by Plantlife in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Its main aims are:

To celebrate our surviving meadows – identifying a flagship Coronation Meadow in each county in Britain. These “jewels in the crown” are places where people can enjoy a riot of colour and an abundance of wildlife in settings that have remained largely unchanged since the Coronation.

To create new meadows at ‘recipient’ sites in the same county, using the Coronation Meadows as ‘donor’ meadows to provide a source of seed. In this way, new Coronation Meadows will be created, increasing the area of this valuable habitat, providing new homes for bees, butterflies and other pollinators and helping to secure our wildflower heritage for the next 60 years and beyond.

Gloucestershire has two Coronation Meadows – Hyde Mill Meadow, Stow on the Wold and, appropriately, The Royal Meadow at Highgrove, the Gloucestershire home of The Prince of Wales.

The Royal Meadow was the brainchild of The Prince of Wales and Dame Miriam Rothschild who devised a seed mix of over 130 different species typical of the natural flora of Gloucestershire. Created over 30 years ago the meadow is now well established.

Across the UK, 90 new meadows, totalling over 1000 acres, have now been created through the Coronation Meadows project – a great achievement.

Written by Richard Lloyd, CPRE Gloucestershire volunteer