This woodland is owned by Staplegrove Parish Council. The area was one of the small pieces of former common land allotted in the Taunton Inclosure Awards of 1851 “to be used as a place of exercise and recreation for the inhabitants of the said Parish of Staplegrove and neighbourhood.” (Source: Williams 1987-88). It was conveyed to the Parish Council on 26th November 1956. The confirmation of the Parish Council’s ownership of the land was made by the Chief Commissioner on 30th November 1984.
The Grove is shown on the 1885 Ordnance Survey map as being mixed woodland. In the 1970’s, the Grove suffered from Dutch Elm Disease and many mature Elms were felled. A replanting scheme was undertaken in 1978 by Staplegrove Parish Council.
The Grove is an area of broadleaf woodland located on either side of Manor Road, Staplegrove to the immediate north of the A358. Visitors to The Grove arriving by car may park in St. John’s Church Car Park on Manor Road.
The Grove can be conveniently divided up into two compartments – A and B. Both compartments contain several tree species e.g. oak, willow, alder, cherry, ash, horse chestnut, but also, especially in Compartment A, a high proportion of sycamore. Sycamore, like horse chestnut, is an introduced species to Great Britain and so supports fewer insects and birds than our native trees such as oak and ash. In addition it spreads easily and rapidly through a woodland to the detriment of other species. It therefore needs to be controlled.
The oaks trees at The Grove provide a habitat for several insects and birds, for example, the tree creeper which feeds of insects living in the rough bark of the oak or the jay which feeds of acorns. Redpolls and siskins feed on the seeds of the alder trees while bullfinch feed on ash keys. An important feature of Compartment B is the mature lime tree. Limes are very tall trees which produce clusters of fragrant flowers in late June which are very attractive to bees.
A wood which contains several tree species such as The Grove can attract a variety of birds and mammals, and invertebrates as different trees produce their crop of seeds at different seasons, thus assuring a continuous supply of food. However, what is also important for wildlife is the structure of a woodland. A wood with a tree layer, shrub layer and field layer (grasses and wildflowers, leaf litter and deadwood) will not only produce a greater variety of food for wildlife but also shelter and nesting places. Song thrushes, wood pigeon and the Purple Emperor butterfly prefer tree tops but birds such as robins and finches prefer the shrub layer. This layer at The Grove is quite sparse but consists of holly, hazel, bramble, hawthorn and elder. Elder, although considered as a weed by many gardeners has white flowers which are a food source for insects in the Spring, whilst its juicy berries in the Autumn attract many birds. Bramble is a good source of pollen for bees and also attracts late Spring butterflies such as the Comma and Speckled Wood.
Wildflowers which can be found in The Grove include the celandine, one of the earliest of our wildflowers with its solitary yellow flower and fresh green heart shaped leaves, bluebells, cow parsley, false oat-grass and some ferns. This layer at The Grove, like its shrub layer is limited due to heavy shade cast by the trees, but will improve over time in response to the on-going woodland management taking place.
When visiting the Grove, please keep dogs under control.