If you wander onto Mill Hill from the Mill Lane direction you may notice unused metal gateposts at the start of the walk and the hard surface to the road.
A few years ago your right of entry would have been confined to a public footpath, as the land had been purchased, an access road laid down, fences and gate put up and planning permission sought for construction of a private house. The land, formerly owned by ‘The Crown’ public house (now Gryffon House and The Old Dower House), had fallen into disuse after the pub was closed in the 1960s and was overgrown by blackthorn bushes, many of which were more like trees and impassable.
Fortunately for us planning consent was not granted and enthusiastic residents led by councilor David Hudson enabled the acquisition of the site by the Parish Council in 2000. Funding was provided by the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, as per the notice at the entrance.
The intention is that Mill Hill should become a fairly typical Suffolk wildwood, with native trees and shrubs, but retaining some brambles, nettles and uncultivated areas to create a wildlife conservation area. In addition there is a wildflower meadow on the top flat section of the wood and a viewing point with a bench about half way down the slope giving picturesque views of surrounding countryside.
At first much work from volunteers was required to clear the site and plant new trees, and install paths and steps. In all more than 90 young trees were planted: Hawthorn, Hazel, Broom, Field Maple, Oak, Rowan, Spindle, Wych Elm, Crab Apple, and Dogwood. In addition there are two Small-leaved Limes, a gift from Otley College. A natural history poster on the sign on Mill Hill gives a useful guide to wildlife that can be seen on the hill and on other open spaces in and around the village.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust has given useful advice and guidance and the Coddenham Community Response Group are co-ordinating with the Parish Council, a full botanical survey on the 5th July, (to include Broom Hill, the Churchyard, Plantation, the Three Cocked Hat), supported by the Gardemau Trusts and the Day Foundation. This will inform a long sought management plan and the return of volunteer working parties after the COVID constraints.
Mill Hill is now a popular spot for a relaxing walk with footpaths from the High Street via Mill Lane and from School Road. In addition there is a permissive path to the Nucleus Plantation, particularly attractive in spring when the snowdrops and bluebells are out.
Volunteers still help to maintain the site, keeping footpaths and steps accessible, mowing the meadow and making sure brambles and other weeds do not overwhelm the young trees. There haven’t been any volunteer work days on Broomhill or Mill Hill for 2 years due to COVID. This is ongoing work and should anybody wish to join us in this healthy and rewarding pass-time they would be most welcome. Contact Councillor Jane Soanes who is a member of the Parish Council Broom Hill, Mill Hill Working Group (email@example.com).
Colin Hardy (April 2022)
Editor ADM May2022.