Hedgelaying skills passed on

Hedgelaying - grapplling with hedging to lay and create a livestock barrier NNL-150113-130936001
Hedgelaying - grapplling with hedging to lay and create a livestock barrier NNL-150113-130936001

The ancient countryside craft of hedgelaying was the subject of a special day course at The Warriner School Farm.

Participants were instructed in this traditional way of making a strong living barrier of the kind which has been used over centuries to contain livestock and provide shelter for animals at the same time.

“A laid hedge creates a thick barrier from untidy, straggling hedges. Stems are cut most of the way through so they can be bent over without killing them. They are kept in place using a framework made of hazel,” said course organiser Isabel Hands.

“As the growing season starts the new foliage thickens the hedge making a strong, stockproof barrier.”

Once a common countryside skill, hedgelaying declined after the war because of labour shortages and the introduction of machines to cut hedges. Lack of maintenance meant hedges were tall and gappy with nothing at the bottom.

Many hedges were grubbed out to make larger fields.

Today, property owners, with land that is improved by an attractive, traditional hedge, are helping a revival of this old craft and Sunday’s course has resulted in eight more budding experts.