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Thorpe Hay Meadow

The last surviving example of unimproved grassland on Thames Gravel in Surrey.

Purchased in 1988 and dedicated to the memory of Mrs Sheila Wenham, Thorpe Hay Meadow is a small, five-sided meadow surrounded by ditches and hedges.  It is situated on the alluvial gravels of the Thames flood plain and thought to be the last surviving example of unimproved grassland on Thames Gravel in Surrey.

Located between the M25 and M3 near Staines it contains some very rare plant species including Carex filiformis or downy-fruited sedge a nationally rare plant, reinforcing the meadows SSSI status.

Some 157 plant species have been recorded here and although it is probably most spectacular in June, there is something to be seen from March through to the end of the summer.

Lime-loving plants to look out for are meadow cranesbill, clustered bell-flower, cowslip, hoary plantain, salad burnet and lady’s bedstraw.

The grassland is dominated by rough-stalked meadow grass, crested dog’s tail and lesser knapweed. Yellow rattle, ox-eye daisy, smooth hawks-beard, meadow barley, meadow fescue grass and common reed are locally abundant. Other frequent species include meadow brome, meadow foxtail grass pepper saxifrage and meadow sweet.

Such a rich flora supports a wide variety of butterflies and insects. More than 20 butterfly species have been recorded, including the meadow brown, gatekeeper, common blue orange tip and ringlet. Bees are kept busy among the blooms and dragonflies and damselflies can be seen flitting through the damper vegetation by the ditch, which runs along two sides and supports five species of willow, including purple, crack and almond willow.

The ancient hedgerow surrounding the meadow comprises ash, hawthorn, field maple, spindle, dogwood, buckthorn and elder and offers perfect nesting sites for chiffchaff and blackcap.

Management is aimed at maintaining the botanical diversity of the reserve.

Species and habitats


Nearby nature reserves

Sheepwalk Lake
3 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust
Gracious Pond
5 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust
5 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust

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Reserve information

Thorpe Hay Meadow
TW20 8HD
Map reference
TQ 030 701
Great for...
Best time to visit
May - Aug
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Opening Times
Open at all times
6.77 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Walking information
Access from Devil's Lane, off the B3376 (Thorpe Lea Road) near stanes
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Tel: 01483 795440