A Royal visit for East Sussex’s Coronation Meadow

Since launching the Coronation Meadows initiative at Highgrove in June 2013 His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has kept a close interest in the project's development. In August 2013 he visited Burn of Midsands, the Coronation Meadow for Caithness, and this summer (July 2014) came to see restoration work firsthand at the Beech estate near Battle, home of the Coronation Meadow for East Sussex.

The Prince was keen to walk through the meadows, and in the morning a party consisting of estate owner Harry Wills, estate manager Keith Datchler and myself eagerly awaited His arrival. In glorious sunshine we set off with His Royal Highness through a number of the estates wildflower-rich meadows in the direction of a restored timber-framed barn elsewhere on the estate where a further gathering of guests were themselves hearing of the project's progress.

Images above © Robin Bell/Coronation Meadows

During the walk the Prince was particularly keen to hear of the achievements of the estate in creating over 100 acres of meadow and to see firsthand the methods of seed gathering and spreading currently being employed. With Keith’s 40 years experience managing the estate and his advising role on the Coronation Meadows project steering committee we had the ideal guide. The perfect weather also meant that staff from the Weald Meadows Partnership and their contractors Agrifactors were out in the fields collecting seed to be used to create a further meadow on the estate. The Prince spoke of the practicalities of meadow creation relating his experiences at Highgrove and listened with great interest about the methods employed on the Beech estate.

Above: Agrifactors and the Weald Meadows Partnership harvested seed on site that day.

Above: Guests studied the freshly-harvested seed. Images above © Dominic Moore

With the shared enthusiasm for meadows it was inevitable that we would be running late by the time of our arrival at the barn, however the Prince took the time to speak to all the guests and hear of their involvement in the project and its progress around the UK. He then departed to attend a further event in Sussex organised by the project partners, giving an address to a grassland conservation conference of academics, policy makers and land managers.

Having such a prestigious and knowledgeable supporter of meadows champion the project and the wider movement to reverse the trend of species-rich grassland loss proved once again inspirational to all involved. After a further guided tour of the meadows by Keith for the guests from the barn we left with renewed confidence that the future of the United Kingdom’s meadows is bright.

Dan Merrett - Coronation Meadows Project Manager