There will be many who look at you quizzically when you mention the name Lynwood Gardens. It’s not like the Botanical Gardens or Endcliffe Park with their pic-nic-ers and ice cream vans. It’s wilder than that, managed but untamed, and it’s been that way for a long time. In fact it may be the only piece of ‘virgin’ land remaining in West Sheffield and it’s lovingly looked after by a team of dedicated volunteers who are holding a Harvest Festival at the site on 5th October…
So where is Lynwood Gardens and can you tell us a bit about its history?
Lynwood is The former Garden of Francis Newton, a wealthy Banker and Sheffield Master Cutler. The house was built in the 1820s and was fairly modest for a man of Newtons means. The garden however was the main feature of the house and was landscaped to mimic a Capabillity Brown Landscape in miniature incorporating areas of mature trees within the garden. The house was built on Clarkehouse rd just inside the Hunters Barr toll gate but far enough to the west to avoid the choking smoke from the hundreds of forges throughout the city. Following Newtons death the house passed to numerous owners until it became part of King Edwards school and passed to Sheffield City Council Education Dept.
It’s quite an important spot for wildlife and plants in the city, can you tell us a bit about the conservation work you do?
Lynwood is an oasis for wildlife less than a mile from the city centre. There have been over 60 species of bird recorded on site as well as a third of UK amphibian species. The site is also home to protected species such as badgers and bats. The site is managed for wildlife as a mosaic of mature woodland with glades, regenerating scrub, wetland and meadow to include a variety of edge habitats. All our conservation work is done entirely by volunteers and we avoid the use of contractors wherever possible. Work includes woodland and meadow management, dry stone walling, brick laying and much, much more. Our experienced committee include professional ecologists and tree surgeons with over 50 years of combined conservation experience.
There’s also a lot of community and educational work that goes on there, is that right?
The site is used by a number of local educational establishments including Broomhill infants School, Springvale School, King Edwards and Sheffield and Hallam Universities for a variety of outdoor education and experimental projects. Students are encouraged to help with restoration management and planting of the site throughout the year as well as developing their own projects. Lynwood is also used by numerous community groups including the Woodcraft folk and Scouts as well as local families for private events such as BBQs, weddings and Birthday parties.
Tell us about the public events that happen on the site?
Public events in Lynwood are based around the changes in the season usually around the solstices to encourage the public to be aware of the changing seasons and natural cycles. These have included public performances such has Beltane and Samhuin as well as the annual Harvest festival and wood fair, our main fundraisers.
This Sunday 5th October at Harvest Festival we will be hosting performances from local poets and musicians, including Carl Woodford and the Sheffield Samba band, alongside wild food walks, spoon carving, apple juicing (and tasting!) and stalls selling locally, ethically produced goodies. Plus facepainting and arts and crafts for the little ones.
How can people get involved with Lynwood Gardens?
Come to the fundraisers! Come to workdays, lend a hand, share and learn skills. Visit and enjoy the space. Observe the mini beasts and the seasonal changes. Remember to respect the rules; supervise children closely, keep dogs on leads, use the bins and community compost system accordingly.
Interview by Sara Hill.
Images courtesy of Friends of Lynwood Gardens.