The Hundred Parishes Society

Our website shows a great many local opportunities throughout the Summer: regular openings, etc on the Attractions pages and individual events and activities in the What’s On section.
We hope you will be especially tempted by events being organized by the Society, primarily for the benefit of members and specifically to offer opportunities for members to meet up. It will greatly help leaders and speakers to know how many people will be coming, so please contact me as soon as possible to advise if you plan to attend any of the following.
As we travel around, it is easy to take for granted the wonderful area in which we live and the things that make it special. Every so often, I visit relations in London, near where I used to live. The traffic and sheer density of urban life remind me how fortunate I was, many years ago, to move to our special area. Researching and photographing for our forthcoming guidebook make it seem even more special.
The remainder of this message is an extract from the Society’s article for June parish magazines, written by Tricia Moxey and a reminder of one of those aspects of life that we might take for granted.
We hope you will enjoy the vegetation along roadside verges that adds much to the overall vision of the countryside. The species present will vary throughout the seasons and reflect the underlying geology and cutting regime of a particular stretch of verge. For road safety reasons, some verges are close-mown but these may be speckled with the flower heads of Common Daisy, Dandelion and other species which thrive under such treatment. On busier roads, often only the first metre is cut on a regular basis, allowing taller wild flowers to survive further back.
During early summer our verges are dominated by swathes of the white frothy flowers of Cow Parsley or the chunkier white flowers of Hogweed. Both are members of the Carrot family and, perhaps surprisingly, thrive on the extra nutrients released by car exhausts. Although many species of insects visit their flowers, their tendency to shade out smaller plants reduces the overall variety of wayside flowers and potential food for other insects. Similarly, increased roadside nutrient levels encourage Docks and Stinging Nettles which also overshadow delicate species including blue-flowered Speedwells.
Splashes of pink are provided by clumps of Red Campion; and blue or purple by Vetches and several species of Geranium. Thistles and scarlet Poppies appear where bare soil is exposed. The presence of a large expanse of Ox-eye daisy, with its white petals and yellow centre, is usually due to its inclusion in seed mixes sown alongside newer roads.
A number of verges have been identified as Special Roadside Verges or Roadside Nature Reserves. These are recognised for their floristic diversity or for the presence of rare species. The plants in these roadside reserves are surveyed annually by volunteers from the county Wildlife Trusts.
I attach a copy of Essex County Council’s explanatory leaflet on Special Roadside Verges and also a photo of the small sign that denotes such a nature reserve.
I and the other trustees hope to meet up with many other members on one of our forthcoming events.
Ken McDonald
Secretary to The Hundred Parishes Society
Registered Charity number 1157891 and company limited by guarantee number 8124462.
2 Greenfields, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex CM24 8AH
01279 813226
One essential for walking is an Ordnance Survey map, ideally the orange Explorer map which has a scale of 1 to 25,000 and shows many detailed features including footpaths and field boundaries. They can be purchased from good stationers or online from
Investment in a good pair of walking boots, probably for less than £100, will be paid back over many years and hundreds of miles, especially if you look after them.
If you don’t like walking about in socks, please pack a pair of slip-on boot covers – or plastic bags – to wear as overshoes in churches or pubs. 
Our area has an extensive network of generally well-maintained public rights of way – footpaths for walkers and bridleways that may also be used by horse riders and cyclists. Do try out new routes, planning before you set off. Bear in mind that a path that runs beside a field edge is less likely to get muddy than one that crosses a field.
Plan your route so that the sun follows you. This is good practice at any time of the year, but especially so in winter with the low sun. For a lengthy, circular walk, try to start near the southeast corner and head clockwise. The sun will follow you, keeping the glare from your eyes and giving you the best views. Most of the walks on the Hundred Parishes website follow this principle.
Do check that your intended lunch stop will be open – phone numbers appear in the parish introductions on
Almost every walk will pass a church. I encourage you to take a look inside, leaving muddy boots outside, of course. Some are kept locked, but around two-thirds are usually open during the day. The Hundred Parishes has an exceptional collection of ancient churches. Most are listed buildings, with no less than 58 listed at Grade I. Each church is individual and most are rewarding places to visit, not just in a spiritual sense but also for their diverse architecture, decoration and memorials.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has grants of £10,000-£250,000 available to fund urgent structural repairs to listed churches or to fund improvements to facilities. You may like to check if your local church is aware of this funding opportunity. Details can be found at . . .

Ken McDonald,