Stockland Turbaries

What are they?

Throughout England, open or common land was gradually parceled out to owners by the various Enclosure Acts that were passed from the 16th century onwards. In the parish of Stockland, following the Enclosures, a number of pockets of land that were thought to be unsuitable for arable farming remained as common land and became known as the Stockland Turbaries. The word 'turbary' is believed to derive from Anglo-French 'turberie' and Low German 'turf', and refers to the ancient right to cut turf or peat for fuel on a particular area of land. The word is also used to describe the particular area of land itself. Turbary rights, or more correctly common of turbary are associated with having rights or access to a piece of land. Today, the turbaries are owned by Stockland Parish Council and the people of the parish have access rights to them, including the gathering of fallen trees and branches for firewood.

Latest News

Summer Watch on the Stockland Turbaries - 2019

"We are now in high summer and, despite a dreary start to June, the ground is remarkably dry. The seven Exmoor ponies have just moved to the southern enclosure of Bucehayes Common having done an excellent job of grazing to the North of the cottage. Here, Cross-leaved Heath, with its mauve-pink bell-shaped flowers, is dominant among Western Gorse. Damp spots have the yellow flowered and softly hairy leaves of Marsh St. John’s-wort studded occasionally by the pale mauve flowered Lesser Skullcap and Pale Butterwort, underlain by leaves of Marsh Pennywort.

Among butterflies that have for some weeks been confined to the grass-feeding Meadow Browns and Ringlets are now joined by a few, fast flying but travel-worn Painted Ladies, immigrants from mainland Europe and North Africa. But, within the last few days, I have spotted newly emerged Gatekeepers, Commas and, the finest of all, Silver-washed Fritillaries. On Bucehayes, I have just seen a Golden-ringed Dragonfly and several Keeled Skimmers, the males of which have narrow, powder-blue abdomens.

Some of the Dartmoor ponies have also moved, so that there are now eight on the main block of Quantock Common. Here, the pond is now covered in Duckweed and surrounded by a tonsure of Watercress. The bank supports some Reedmace and Bur-reed, both now in fruit, Tiny blue damselflies are, I think, Azure Damselflies, together with Large Red Damselflies. In early Summer, I counted 80 flowering spikes of Early Marsh Orchid on the turbary at Quantock, making it the second strongest population in the Blackdowns, indicating that our management of the mire habitat remains appropriate.

Blue Tits and Great Tits were again the most numerous occupants of nest boxes but Geoff Pearce reports a Coal Tit bred in a box on a Pine tree at Quantock. There were a total of 14 Nuthatch nests across all our turbaries: 49 fledglings were ringed from Quantock and Horner Hill. Among his kestrel boxes, Geoff found 5 eggs from which four young have hatched on Bucehayes; his box on Horner is full of hornets. Tawny Owl numbers are down from 2018: just three boxes have been used this year from which three adults and seven young have been ringed. Bullfinches have bred at Quantock and three babies have been ringed but the number of Swallows, House Martins and Spotted Flycatchers are down this season, presumably attributable to cold weather at a critical period. Dippers continue to breed on each of the three rivers in Stockland parish, two nests on each of the Yarty, Corry Brook and Umborne Brook."

David Allen

A new permissive path in the Quantock Turbary

Stockland Parish Council has opened a new permissive path that links the Public Footpath near Brimpit Farm, at ST 225053, with the Public Footpath near Featherlake, at ST 225046, crossing Quantock Turbary. The route (although open to the public) is not designated as a public right of way. Wellington Boots are recommended.

The Turbaries Management Committee

Since 2015, the Turbaries Management Committee now operates as a committee of the Stockland Parish Council, and has been made up of members of the Parish Council and other parishioners, supplemented by invited representatives of organisations known for their expertise in land management for wildlife conservation.

Committee Meetings
Committee meetings, which are open to all Stockland electors, are held three times a year in the Victory Hall. Their principal purpose is to discuss and decide on the practicalities of management of our turbaries.

Your contact for the Stockland Turbaries Management Committee is Dr David Allen 01404 861394

Parish Residents' Rights to Firewood
Residents of Stockland parish may collect logs and fallen wood from the turbaries for their own personal use but not for sale. A licence may be obtained to cut specified standing wood on application to the Turbaries Management Committee.

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