for your diary
Bishopsworth & Malago
|Manor Woods Valley
Valley Conservation Group has published My Manor
Woods Book, an original and innovative guide to the
Manor Woods open space in Bishopsworth. The book is for
any and everyone, but it is particularly aimed at young
people and their families.
My Manor Woods Book
is a lively and colourful guide to the history, geology,
and (especially) the wildlife of Manor Woods. Readers are
invited to customise the book - to make it truly My
Manor Woods Book - by adding notes, drawings, photographs
etc. To encourage this, the book is in loose-leaf format,
A5 size, in a sturdy folder suitable for outdoor use.
The book will be used
by schools, thereby encouraging the next generation to
appreciate and conserve the wealth of habitats and
species which we have in the area. Generous sponsorship
from Bristol City Council and Bristol Water plc has
covered the cost of the printing and allows the book to
be sold for just the cost of the folders, £2.00 each.
My Manor Woods Book
is on sale at Bishopsworth Library or directly from
Malago Valley Conservation Group - ring 964 3106 or
Here are some extracts
WELCOME TO MANOR WOODS. Manor Woods is a haven of
green within South Bristol. This book tells you about
it - how it was formed - what has happened here -
interesting things to look for today and plans for
But the book isnt
finished yet - thats your
job. It isnt finished
partly because things are changing all the time -
mostly for the better, we hope - and partly because
nobody knows everything there is in this rich and
surprising part of Bristol.
You can make this YOUR Manor Woods Book by adding
drawings, photos, notes of things you see - and you
can help to improve future editions of the book by
letting us know what you discover.
Add your own pages to personalise the book, and use
the forms to record your observations. If you see
anything really special, please use the
Report Form at the back to let us know.
We hope this book will help you to appreciate the
very special magic of Manor Woods.
History all around us: all
these artefacts have been found within a mile of Manor
MANOR WOODS is a familiar name, but why is it so
called? To find the answer, we need to know a little
bit of history. A manor was a medieval land
holding in which the land was either held directly of
the king or through some intermediate major
landowner. The final holder of the Manor was the Lord
of the Manor who generally lived there with his
family and retainers. The other occupiers of the
Manor comprised various categories of villager. These
included freemen holding some land themselves, free
villeins without land, landless serfs and often
The Lord of the Manor would normally reside in a Manor
House and the manorial lands were often grouped
around a Manor Farm or Home Farm. The
present village of Bishopsworth contains a
Manor House (replacing a succession of earlier
buildings) together with a Home Farm.
The other uncultivated lands of the Manor would
include pasture for animals, often along the banks of
a river, common land for the common benefit
of all (Highridge Common in this case) and woodland.
According to Domesday (which was part of the great
land and tax survey of 1086 ordered by King William
I), Bishopsworth had two Manors. The description of
one of these two Manors includes a reference to woodland 6 furlongs long and 1
furlong wide. You can see
from the measurements of over 900 years ago that the
modern Manor Wood seems to match the dimensions of
the long narrow strip of woodland following the
Malago stream that we can explore today.
MUCH OF MANOR WOOD is a relic of ancient woodland.
Although individual plants will grow, reproduce and
die, it is likely that this area has been covered
with woodland species for many hundreds, if not
thousands of years. Old maps certainly record the
woodland, but additionally particular species of
plants, which abhor disturbance, suggest that the
woodland is very old indeed. These plants include
ground- cover species such as the pungent
garlic-smelling Ramsons and
bright Yellow Archangel.
Also found on the woodland floor are the strangely
sculpted Wild Arum and many
beautiful, elegant ferns: Broad Buckler
Fern, Male Fern and the lime-loving Hartstongue
Above the ground flora of the woodland is the shrub
layer - the smaller woody plants which usually
develop more than one stem, especially if they have
been coppiced as was traditional in earlier times.
(Many trees such as ash and hazel can be periodically
cut back to encourage many small stems to grow from
the roots rather than one large trunk. The resulting
timber has many uses, such as making hurdles and
fences, simple rustic chairs etc. This practice is
The principal plants of this layer are Hazel
with its bright yellow catkins in early spring, Blackthorn,
snowy white with blossom in spring and heavy with its
indigo fruits (sloes) in the autumn. Also found are
the colourful Field Maple, Hawthorn
(or May), Holly,
Elm and clambering Brambles.
The larger trees which canopy the woodland in high
summer include Ash, Sycamore, Wych Elm,
and old Oaks, many of
which, sadly, are victims of thoughtless vandalism.
The woodland habitat supports a rich variety of
wildlife, considering its proximity to the city. Wrens
busy themselves in the undergrowth, Woodpigeons
flap and flutter about in the canopy and Robins
mark out their territory with their rich song. Even Tawny
Owls can be heard on quiet nights.
Small mammals such as Wood Mice, Shrews,
Hedgehogs and Squirrels
are also certainly here, the woodland web of life
providing all the shelter and food they require.
MUCH OF THE GRASSLAND in Manor Woods looks rather
boring, just acres of green desert. Sadly in some
places the variety of plants is restricted to a very
few common species of grass and, of course, the fewer
the number of plants, the fewer the species of
animals that the habitat can support. However, it is
important that some areas are set aside for fun and
games, so these areas have value for enjoyment of the
area, if not for nature conservation.
Other areas of grassland may appear messy and uncared
for, but in fact these are some of the richest areas
for rare plants and interesting species of insects.
Some of the grassland adjacent to the scrubby areas
are home to the locally rare and extraordinarily
named Corky Fruited Water Dropwort.
Have a look for it on the margins of the scrubby
areas in July/August.
Bristol City Council, which owns the area, is slowly
allowing some patches of green desert to revert to
more natural grassland, which is only cut once in the
summer. In these areas, other more common but lovely
plants can also be found - Ox-eye Daisy,
Self-heal, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Hawkbit and
Buttercups. In the damper
areas, in spring, the delicately mauve-tinted Cuckoo
Flower can be found and later in the
year the deeper purple of Knapweeds
and Thistles. Of course,
careful attention to the grasses, especially in June
when they are flowering, will reveal a variety of
common and not so common species - Fox-tail,
Crested Dogs-tail, Fescues and Couch.
If you are really eagle-eyed you will find some
places where the sweet smelling Ladys
Bedstraw grows or Rest-harrow
and the softly striped pink and white Field
Bindweed - even sometimes an Orchid.
Fun and Games
If you look and listen carefully you will find
that nature is much richer and more exciting than you
can imagine. Try some of the ideas below and you will
discover a lot about the natural world ...
- Can you find something that is 100,000,000
years old? (clue: it is probably very, very
- Stand still and absolutely quiet for one
minute. Count all the different sounds you
- Collect a suntrap (clue: why is it likely to
- Take a paint sample card to Manor Woods. Try
to match the colours to those in nature. Youll be surprised how
many colours there are.
- Find a leaf that makes a noise.
- Place a mirror under your chin and walk under
the trees in Manor Woods. You will see the
world in a different way. Take a friend to
- Can you find something (natural) that is of
no use in nature?
- Get to know a tree. Blindfold a friend and
lead them to a tree. Get them to feel it very
carefully. Take them away from the tree, take
off the blindfold and ask them to find the
tree again. It is more difficult than you
- Find a leaf that has provided a meal for a
- Look for an oxygen maker (clue: they make
carbon dioxide too).
- Find something that has been reused millions
of times (clue: what happens to living things
when they die?).
- Draw your very favourite thing in Manor
Woods. Add your drawing to this book.
- Take home two pieces of litter and put them
in your dustbin!
What you can do
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP to maintain and improve
Manor Woods, there are many things you can do, either
on your own or by joining in with other people ...
- Malago Valley Conservation Group is the local
conservation and amenity society for
south-west Bristol (roughly the BS13 postal
district). Manor Woods is one of the most
important open spaces in the area and
M.V.C.G. works with the City Council and
other public bodies to help to improve it. We
also take action ourselves, such as regularly
picking up litter on garbage
raids and an
annual amphibious effort to remove rubbish
from the Malago and the pond. We have also
put up owl boxes in the woodland.
- For more information about Malago Valley
Conservation Group, ring 964 3106, or look at
our website on Digital City Bristol (at
Bishopsworth Library, for example). If youve got your own
internet access, were
at www.mvcg.org.uk. If you would
like to join M.V.C.G., you can use the form
- The South Bristol Rivers Initiative is a
project involving the City Council, the
Wildlife Trust, the Forest of Avon, M.V.C.G.
and other bodies. Work has already begun to
improve the main path through the woodland,
and ideas are being discussed to enhance the
stream and pond. If you would like to know
more, or to get involved, contact Malago
Valley Conservation Group on 964 3106.
- When you visit Manor Woods, take a plastic
bag. It doesnt
take much effort to pick up some litter and
improve the appearance of the area. If you
take two bags, you can keep old drinks cans
separate and let M.V.C.G. have them at 14
Queens Road, Bishopsworth. We sort the
aluminium from the steel and sell them for
our funds (the steel cans get recycled as
- If you see anything wrong anywhere in Manor
Woods, do report it. The area is owned by
Bristol City Council and managed by the
Leisure Services Department. Phone them to
report any damage to benches, tables, gates,
walls etc. The telephone number is 922 3977.
- Removal of rubbish dumped on the site or in
the stream or pond is also the responsibility
of the City Council. The number to ring to
report dumping is 922 4730.
- The Environment Agency is the organisation
which monitors and controls pollution of
watercourses. If you see evidence of
industrial or domestic discharges in the
Malago, phone the Agencys
Pollution Hotline on (freephone) 0800 807060.
- Occasionally you may come across people
actively doing damage or breaking the law in
other ways, for example, by riding motorbikes
on the cyclepath. Report this immediately to
the Police on 999 or to Bishopsworth Police
Station on 945 5666.
- Would you be interested in joining a Friends of Manor Woods
helps to look after and improve the area, but
a local group concentrating on Manor Woods
could do even more. If you like the idea,
ring M.V.C.G. on 964 3106.
- ENJOY MANOR WOODS and encourage other people
to enjoy the area too.
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