The Bythams Spinney is situated on the road to Creeton just outside the village of Little Bytham. The site covers an area of approximately 5.5 acres and provides a combination of open and woodland space for the pleasure of local people. It is managed by a local charity: The Bythams Woodland Trust.
The Spinney Project was originally conceived by Patrick Candler as a play space linked with the local Bythams Primary School. A bid was submitted, with the backing of the Parish Council, to the Millennium Commission who were keen to fund local projects that demonstrated the involvement of young people and the local community. As it was a rural project it scored “bonus points” with the Commission who decided to awarded the Project a grant.
Having completed the speculative application to the Millennium Commission and being given the “green light”, the Project now had to acquire the land to bring the original idea to a reality. This proved to be more problematic than originally thought.
Part of the Spinney site was owned by the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Castle Trust who were happy to sell the land to the Project. It had originally been used as a source of clay for the local brickyard but had been disused for many years and had become overgrown. However, there was an acre of land within the site whose ownership could not be determined. In the end, after two years research in the Lincolnshire Archives, it was discovered that this acre had been set aside for the quarrying of stone by the inhabitants of Little Bytham in the Enclosure Act of 1805.
As a result of changes in the law in the intervening period the land, being unclaimed, in fact had reverted to the ownership of the Grimsthorpe and Drummond Trust, who were not unduly concerned at the further sale of a piece of land they didn’t realise they actually owned! A period of 2.5 years in total elapsed between the original application for grant aid from the Millennium Commission and the transfer of the land to the Project which enabled them to get on to the site and start work in January 2003. A separate charity has now been set up to manage The Spinney: The Bythams Woodland Trust.
The first task was to create a new car park and an access road from the B1176. A path was then constructed around the site allowing access for wheelchair users and prams, push chairs and buggies. Picnic areas were established and rubbish bins installed. A group of local volunteers has been working on the site at weekends since the early Spring of 2003, gradually turning the area into a valuable resource for the local community and school.
Over the last few years, glades have been cleared and new native trees and shrubs planted. The site boundary has been fenced and a native hedgerow planted alongside the fence. A range of environmentally-sympathetic play equipment has been installed, including a zip-wire, slides, swings, see-saw and a playhouse. More recent projects include establishing a living roof and rainwater harvesting system, planting a heritage orchard and creating a sensory garden.
The Meadow The arable field adjoining the Spinney to the north was later purchased by the BWT. It is being managed to encourage a diversity of plants (much as an old-fashioned hay meadow would have been), to bring in a greater range of insects and other invertebrates, which will in turn encourage a greater range of birds and other wildlife. During the winter of 2019/2020, in part of the Meadow close to the road, a “Mini-Spinney” of young trees was planted, which we hope will provide yet another rich habitat for wildlife.