Easter 2021 at St Mary’s

St Mary's In the Sun

This Easter 2021 update from St Mary’s starts with a message from Revd Anne and also includes:

… and the usual listings of services and contacts but first:

Revd Anne’s Easter Message

You may be reading this article around Eastertime, or a little earlier. It’s at Easter that Christians the world over celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, and are reminded of God’s free gift of forgiveness and love. In the Bible we read,

Continue reading “Easter 2021 at St Mary’s”

Day 23 of Lockdown – Don’t Go Down To The Woods

Bluebells at Hillhouse Wood
Hillhouse Wood is renowned for its bluebell display every spring

Day 23 of Lockdown

Day 23 and the sun continued to shine down on us.  Wonderful with a bit of a but.  Each year our popular Hillhouse Wood becomes an attraction as the spring flowers create carpets of colour.  The paths, though, are rather narrow and social distancing will become a problem if the same numbers come along this year.

If you are not a  local resident can you please put off your visit until next year when, all being well, there will be no lockdown.  In other news:

Mediaeval PaintingOld Church Refurbishment

The last update on this project left us with the conservators planning how to deal with the Mediaeval Paintings discovered during refurbishment works.  Well, the plan now is to complete the refurbishment of the interior walls but leaving the paintings Continue reading “Day 23 of Lockdown – Don’t Go Down To The Woods”

Winter Bird Walk 2020 – will you see a Waxwing?


Waxwings migrate from the boreal forests of continental Europe to spend their winters with us in search of rowan and other berries.

Winter Bird Walk 2020

The first guided walk of the year at Hillhouse Wood takes place on Saturday 29th February when Steve Hallam leads the Winter Bird Walk 2020.  Walkers should meet at the Old Church at 10 am (weather permitting), wearing

Continue reading “Winter Bird Walk 2020 – will you see a Waxwing?”

25th AGM of Friends of Hillhouse Wood

25th AGM - images from the wood

25th AGM - images from the wood25th AGM of Friends of Hillhouse Wood

The 25th AGM of the Friends of Hillhouse Wood is on Wednesday 11th December 2019.  Starting in the Orpen Hall at 7.30 pm, refreshments will be served from 7.00 pm.  The Friends will welcome members and non-members alike.


Following the conclusion of formal business, there will be a talk given by John More, Essex Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes Co-ordinator.

2019 Walks

2019 has seen 4 organised walks; some snippets and links to the full articles are shown below: Continue reading “25th AGM of Friends of Hillhouse Wood”

Autumn Fruits in the Rain

Autumn Fruits walk in the rainAutumn Fruits in the Rain

It appears in recent years, that the Autumn Fruits Walk tends to act as a magnet to rain.  This year was no exception.  However, the weather forecast gave plenty of warning and so the 7 participants came prepared.

As for the walk itself, we again saw how the presence, location and abundance of plants vary from year to year. This time there were lots of the Continue reading “Autumn Fruits in the Rain”

Dawn Walk Results in Waves of Song

Tawny Owl - Wikimedia File Image

Dawn Walk Results in Waves of Song

Steve Hallam led a small group on the annual Dawn Chorus Walk when they were greeted by waves of song.  His account of the walk is shown below…

Steve Hallam describing the waves of song

On the morning of 18th May, the population of West Bergholt could be divided into two groups:

  • the eight people who came on this year’s Dawn Chorus walk, and
  • those who had made a mistake.

This was one of the best ‘shows’ since I have been leading these walks (and this was nothing to do with me!), as I will explain.

Continue reading “Dawn Walk Results in Waves of Song”

Early Start for Dawn Chorus – 18th May

Blue Tit leaves nest hole

Early start to see a Blue Tit leaving nest holeEarly Start for Dawn Chorus

To get the best from the Dawn Chorus means an early start but it is well worth it.  Steve Hallam will be leading this years’ Dawn Chorus Walk around Hillhouse Wood, offering the chance to see and/or hear nightingales and many other dawn choristers like the Blue Tit having its own early start (see right).

Previous years’ walks have seen and/or heard over Continue reading “Early Start for Dawn Chorus – 18th May”

2019 Spring Flower Walk with Storm Hannah

Wodland flowers to see on Spring Nature WalkStorm Hannah Besets Spring Walk

Whilst we had some glorious weather over the Easter weekend the following Saturday brought strong winds, overcast skies and the threat of rain courtesy of Storm Hannah.  It was in this environment that Steve Hallam lead the annual Spring Flower Walk into and around Hillhouse Wood.  Having successfully survived the walk, Steve reported:

A bit different

This year produced something a bit different – as I was nearly blown over at one point (with only a slight exaggeration for dramatic effect).  As luck would have it Storm Hannah chose that afternoon to blow some cobwebs away.

Despite the ‘challenging’ forecast I was pleased and relieved to see 22 people assemble for ‘the off’.  The graveyard and adjacent track hold a varied display of flowers, each with a story to tell.  I was able to show the group 13 species before we had walked 30 yards.  It is always nice to show people how much there is that they would otherwise have walked straight past.  Whilst things calmed down a bit after such a racing start, the track down to the entrance of the wood still revealed a lovely spread of Speedwells tucked into its verge.  And I was able to explain how Groundsel got its name.

And into the wood…

Once in the wood, I was able to find a last few Lesser celandine and Wood anemones – well past their prime, but still providing some colour.  In contrast, the Early purple orchids were showing well, with a good number of flower spikes. Regular readers will recall that every year there is some variation in what we see.  And so, it was that this year there were several lovely Violets flowering right by the path, while last year there were none.  In contrast, this year I could not find a single Lady’s smock or Bugle.

Wild Garlic Detour

As the ‘bracing’ weather had encouraged us to keep walking at a good pace, I decided that this year we would detour down to the bottom stream to see the Wild garlic.  This turned out to be an effort worth making, as the group were most interested in it.  It also provided me with yet another opportunity to say one thing, while ‘nature’ catches me out by doing the opposite.  I explained how the garlic only ever grows within a certain number of yards of the water and wondered how this was so precise.  Naturally, a few yards further along the path we found a patch of garlic growing three times this distance away from the water!


We then visited all of the three main areas of Bluebells, which were just about fully out.  We felt that the display was not quite up to the standard of some years, as we could see individual flower spikes, as opposed to a solid ‘carpet’ of blue.  Perhaps last summer’s drought was the reason?  Still impressive, though.  Finally, I was able to show the group the ‘non-flowers’ of Golden saxifrage, so easy to miss.  And then also the tiny and weird symmetrical flowerhead of Moschatel, or Town-hall clock.”

2019 Spring Flower Walk – Bluebell Heaven

Bluebells at Hillhouse Wood

Bluebells at Hillhouse Wood - 2019 Spring Walk
Hillhouse Wood is renowned for its bluebell display every spring

2019 Spring Flower Walk

Steve Hallam’s Guided 2019 Spring flower walk is fast approaching.  These gentle walks guide you from the Old Church into the wonderful Hillhouse Woods in their spring glory where you might be fortunate to see many species of wildlife as well as spring flowers.

The guided walk starts at Continue reading “2019 Spring Flower Walk – Bluebell Heaven”