Burton Fishpond Plantation

The wood on the east side of Towles Fields known as Burton Plantation was purchased in 2004 as an amenity for the villagers to enjoy. The cost was met by donations from residents (£13,000) and grants from Charnwood Borough Council (£5,000) and Leicestershire County Council (£10,000).

The Plantation is managed by a committee of the Parish Council consisting of parish councillors and local residents and it is maintained by volunteers and Friends of Burton Plantation.

Most of the volunteer maintenance work takes place between September and April. There will be the opportunity to join a working party on the following dates: 1st Sept, 6th & 17th Oct, 3rd & 14th Nov and 1st Dec 2019. In 2020 dates are as follows: 5th Jan, 2nd &13th Feb, 1st & 12th March, 5th April and 7th June. Please come along and lend a hand.

For more information, please contact Lyn on 01509 889700 or subscribe to the newsletter by e-mailing lyn_cooper@hotmail.com

New volunteers are always welcome, tools and training are provided; no previous experience is necessary and there are tasks for all ages and abilities. Meet at the Pavilion at 10am. We are grateful for any help that you can offer, even for just an hour.

A huge thank you to all of the wonderful Plantation volunteers who have worked so hard over the year to keep this beautiful woodland in shape.

If you are interested in purchasing logs please contact the parish clerk.

Most recent newsletter

Plantation Management Committee

For details about the Parish Council's Plantation Management Committee, including committee members and meeting dates, please see the Committee page of this website.

Friends of Burton Plantation

Becoming a Friend of Burton Plantation is a way to your show support for the plantation. The plantation relies on the support of volunteers and the funding raised from Friends of Burton Plantation goes directly on the maintenance of this valuable asset.

Much of the work in the plantation is carried out by volunteers, your donation will support this work through items including the purchasing of tools for use by the volunteers and the cost of hiring a chipper.

If you enjoy using our beautiful woodland and would like to support this important community asset you can become a Friend of Burton Plantation by contacting the clerk to the Parish Council.

Thank you in anticipation of your support.

Plantation Photo Gallery

Archive news, volunteer days and events at the Plantation

Biodiversity

The Fishpond Plantation supports a large range of species of plants, fungi, invertebrates, amphibians, birds and mammals. Over the past 10 years a number of groups have carried out various surveys to identify the full range. The Wildlife Trust and the Botanical Survey of Britain and Ireland being the two main contributory agencies. Many of these results have been published on Leicestershire's Nature Spot http://www.naturespot.org.uk Nature Spot allows members of the public to record what they see. It is easy to register and add what you have identified to Burton's species list.

Plantation Trees and Kretzschmaria deusta

Plantation History

The History of Fishpond Plantation

At a first glance the Plantation looks like quite a young wood with lots of thin spindly sycamore trees. Closer inspection reveals that its history must go back many centuries. The thick carpets of snowdrops and bluebells in the spring indicate a long established woodland. There is much to be discovered about the history of Fishpond Plantation and several theories abound.

The accompanying map shows that in 195 4the woodland was considerably bigger than its present 3.96 acres. Prior to the building of Burton Hall it may have covered an even larger area. One assumption had been that the name Fishpond Plantation related back to medieval times. The fishponds themselves are difficult to date. They were obviously there before the trees, hence the name of the plantation, but they have been inspected by two of the County archaeologists and neither believed them to be medieval.

It has been noted that the ground in the wood is very disturbed and irregular and shows no signs of early cultivation such as ridge and furrow. A look at a geological map gives a clue. The East Midlands has long been known for its deposits of Gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) Old disused 'plaster pits' are a common feature locally where gypsum deposits are found close to the surface in the glacial clay known as Keuper Marl. It is likely that the ponds were created from disused mine workings. A fine granular variety of gypsum called alabaster was greatly sought after up to the 18th century. Parts of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire were well known for alabaster carvings for local market and export. Perhaps Burton on the Wolds was one of the suppliers for this industry. Certainly after mining had taken place the land would be unsuitable for agricultural use. Adding weight to this theory the geological survey of 1900 marks the fishpond area as "clay pits".

The ponds themselves were probably constructed in the 18th Century by the Mason family who lived at what is now Manor Farm and owned the Burton Estate prior to the building of Burton Hall. The ponds would have supplied fish for the house and also ice. The remains of the ice house can still be seen in the garden of 41 Barrow Rd alongside the footpath that runs from Barrow Road to Springfield Close. Leaving speculation aside, the more recent history is easier to prove. Ann Mason's grandson, John Noon, built Burton Hall towards the end of the 18th century. John left the estate to Charles Godfrey Mundy who transformed the modest country house into a modern "mansion" in 1824.

Charles also laid out the gardens and plantations (the Packes were renowned for their woodlands so it may have been a case of trying to keep up with his somewhat richer neighbours). He probably had areas cleared, planted more trees (mixed woodland including conifers) created paths and maybe even had the long shallow pond dug as a feature. Charles was forced to put the estate up for sale in 1834. He said at that time that the Fishpond Plantation was ten years old. (so 2014 was actually the Plantation's 190th birthday!)

The Estate was bought by the Somerset family in 1838. The Somersets were great sportsmen so it may have been during their ownership that the woodland was planted with the snowberry as cover for game. The Somersets sold the estate to the Earl and Countess of Huntingdon in 1920

The south end of the plantation was felled during World War II because it was in line with the north-south runway of Wymeswold Airfield. An aerial photograph of 1945 shows this quite clearly. As you explore the wood, you can spot the large conifer tree stumps remaining from this time. During the war there were military huts close to the area of the present car park and it was to serve these that drains were installed that run through the wood.

The Countess put the estate on the market in the spring of 1954. When the estate was dispersed some of the cottages went to sitting tenants and the Plantation was bought by Mr W.V. Harlow of Harlow Brothers, timber merchants of Long Whatton, for £1,250.

A large part of the plantation was lost in the 1960s when it was cleared for houses and a new village school. The cottage shown on the map (in lot 3) still remains as number 23 Barrow Rd.

In 2004 the Plantation was bought by Burton on the Wolds, Cotes and Prestwold Parish Council on behalf of the village with villagers' donations and grants from Shires and Charnwood Borough Council for £26,100.

It is now managed by a sub-committee of the Parish Council. Residents are encouraged to participate by becoming Friends of Burton Plantation, helping raise funds to maintain the wood and volunteering with maintenance tasks in the winter months.

The management plan for the wood lists the following objectives:

  • maintain and enhance wildlife habitats
  • encourage public access
  • provide interpretive material for educational purposes.

External recognition of our progress in these aims is demonstrated by

a) designation of the woodland as a Wildlife Site by the Borough Council and Leicestershire Wildlife Trust

b) receiving the Michael Brayshaw Biodiversity Conservation Award in 2007

Much of the woodland comprises of self-sown sycamore with an under story of snowberry at the western end becoming a denser shrub layer to the north east. There is a succession of woodland flowers including snowdrops, celandines, violets, wood anemones, bluebells, red campion and cow parsley. To date, surveys of flora show over 60 species. More than 30 species of birds have been observed. The Plantation is also known to be the home for amphibians including the Great Crested Newt.

Cath Thomson

Heritage Warden August 2014

If you have information to share or would like to become involved in discovering more about the local history and the natural history of Burton on the Wolds the Heritage Warden would love to hear from you.

Contact Cath Thomson email cathomson50@hotmail.com or phone 07887996293