Salisbury Cathedral Close Preservation Society
Landscape & Ecology
The Society regards the rare green landscape of The Cathedral Close (The Close) as a feature of the first importance. Whilst the preservation of its historic buildings is our priority focus, the green area of The Close is unique amongst cathedral closes as being the most extensive, at about 80 acres. The lockdowns during the covid pandemic showed how much the local community value The Close as a place where they could walk in beautiful surroundings and feel safe.
Salisbury Cathedral awarded Ecochurch Gold Award
In 2019 the Society combined with other local organisations to help the Cathedral ‘s Eco Church initiative by producing a baseline survey (the’ Close to Nature’ report} of the birds , flora and fauna of The Close . Eco church is an initiative launched by the charity A. Rocha UK. Here is a link to their website. The initiative is designed to help churches in the UK work towards a greener future.
The’ Close to Nature ’report included the results of surveys on moths, flowers, trees, bats, birds and so on. It included recommendations for a range of enhancements to habitats and ways to improve biodiversity in The Close.
The Society was very fortunate to have had wonderful support from the national wildflower charity, Plantlife, which is headquartered in Salisbury. We also had help from the Wiltshire Wildlife trust; the Wiltshire bat recorder; the RSPB/BTO; The Cathedral archive; and a big thank you to the Salisbury and District Natural History Society – and the many volunteers who helped along the way!
We were also able to involve schoolchildren in some of our survey activities – including, with Plantlife, counting the flowers in the grass around the cathedral to work out how many bees the flowers in that area could support.
The’ Close to Nature’ report was a key element in the Cathedral securing an Eco Church Gold Award in 2021 , the first cathedral in the country to do so.
The work continues
The Society has continued to work with others to progress some of the recommendations in the ‘Close to Nature’ report . Wildflower planting has been undertaken in and around Marsh Close . Further surveys were undertaken in the spring and summer of 2022 with the aid of an expert botanist from the local Natural History Society.
One of the plants which was very successful in its first year was ‘Yellow Rattle’. This is a real bonus because it is a “semi parasitic plant” which feeds on some enzymes which feed grasses which are regarded as ‘thugs’ in a wildflower meadow. It weakens the dominant grasses which can take over in a meadow and increases the chance for wildflowers to emerge.
Native wildflowers can take quite some time to germinate but they are there, although rather tiny! Creating a wildflower area is not a project for the impatient! The intention is to plant more and a slightly different mix of seed in late 2022 as well as some small ‘plug plants’ in spring 2023.
Bird, bat and hedgehog boxes have been installed in Marsh Close and moves are in train for more bat boxes and other nature friendly developments elsewhere in The Close, This is part of our commitment to safeguard the historic landscape of The Close. We hope that these initiatives will involve schoolchildren as well as young people from the Cathedral’s new eco club.