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The Nature Reserve, Changes

Tuddenham is fortunate to have within it's boundary part of the Cavenham Heath National Nature Reserve which is now owned and managed by English Nature.

From ancient times Tuddenham's poor parishioners were allowed access to this land to gather wood and peat to use for heating and the area was known as 'The Old Poor's Land', the part referred to as 'Turf Fen' is probably where the majority of the turves cut came from.

In 1796 at the time of Enclosure orders were set out re. the 'Quantities of Turves and Flags to be cut and taken by poor persons' and this was only allowed to be spent and consumed in the said parish of Tuddenham.

A notice about the amounts allowed each year was pinned to the church door on one Sunday near each Easter.

As the practice of fuel gathering declined the area reverted to a semi-natural heathland and was leased by the trustees to the Nature Conservancy Council who managed it's development and in 1954 the area was declared a National Nature Reserve. The light sandy soil and the wetlands of the low-lying areas near the river provides ideal conditions for many species of flora and fauna.

By 1961 the N.C.C. was keen to have permanent possession of the reserve and offered the Trustees 4000 for the Freehold. A public meeting was called in the village on November 10th when the offer was put before those assembled, bearing in mind that the N.C.C. had the power of compulsory purchase it was considered expedient to accept the offer and in due course the transaction took place.

The money was invested with the Charity Commission and a new charity (no.40998) known as The Tuddenham Parish Trust set up. The income from this is now given to all O.A.P residents of two or more years each Christmas supposedly to help with their winter fuel costs.

During World War II anti-glider ditches were dug and pill-box type defences and anti-aircraft gun platforms constructed at strategic points on the heath and the remains of some of these can still be found today.

In 1983 the Reserve which covers 502 acres was declared an SSSI, part of it has open access for the public while some of the more sensitive sites are restricted to permit holders between the months of August - March only.

A series of footpaths and an illustrated nature trail gives visitors an opportunity to see some of the 208 different species of plants to be found here.


A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac