Birchanger Wood lies on the north-east edge of Bishop’s Stortford, between the town and the village of Birchanger, on the border between Hertfordshire and Essex.
Birchanger Wood is an ancient wood, rich in wildlife, now of 69 acres but formerly much larger, being part of a manor bestowed by William the Conqueror on St. Valery’s Priory. Subsequently reclaimed by the monarchy, the wood was granted to William of Wykham, with much other land. William of Wykham became Chancellor to Edward 3rd in 1367, and in 1380 he founded New College, Oxford, and Birchanger Wood was among the lands with which New College was endowed.
The wood remained in the possession of New College until the latter part of the 19th century, when it was sold to several individuals. The local councils have bought the wood in recent years to hold it in perpetuity for the public benefit.
Having bought the wood from three private owners, ownership has been transferred to the Birchanger Wood Trust, a charitable trust created exclusively to hold the wood for the public good, and to manage it appropriately in accordance with a management plan drawn up by professional ecologists.
Pathways breathe new life into Birchanger Wood
Our paths are newly refurbished, two metres in width and include picnic areas and benches.
The Trust reviewed its ‘reason d’etre’ in 2010. The result of which was the decision to search for funds in order to renovate its major woodland paths. The woodland undergrowth was becoming completely worn away and it was recognised that if feet could be kept on paths this would provide a huge boost in encouraging the under-growing bulbs and plants to regenerate.
The completion of our first refurbished path running from Birchwood High School down to Wickes DIY store was officially opened on the 15 January 2011 by BBC Gardener Christine Walkden and resulted in huge increased usage of the woodland and demands by users to extend these high quality paths and their links to one another.
Further fundraising was undertaken and our second path was opened on the 18 November 2011 by the Right Honourable Caroline Spellman Secretary of State, who used to attend the Herts and Essex High School in Bishop’s Stortford. This path completed a ‘pan-handle’ with our first path.
The third path, that would complete the remaining part of the figure of eight, on the Bishop’s Stortford side of the Wood was completed late in November 2012 and had its official opening in 2013.
The forth stage of the paths, an individual ‘figure of eight’ set on the Birchanger side of the Wood was completed and this was opened on the 20 October 2012 by HR the Lord Petre JP, Lord Lieutenant of Essex and Dr Maria Davy, Chair of Birchanger Parish Council.
Birchanger Wood Trust 2018
In 2018, the trust was superceded by the Birchanger Wood Trust 2018, a charitable incorporated organisation registered with the Charities Commission (Charity no. 1178590).
The Birchanger Wood Trust 2018’s charitable objects are:
- To promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of the ancient woodland of Birchanger Wood.
- To advance the education of the public in the natural history of the flora and fauna of the ancient woodland of Birchanger Wood.
- To provide or assist in the provision of facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation and leisure time occupation with the objective of improving the conditions of life for those living or working and visitors to the area.