Within the local parish the ecological
character relate to the presence of woodland, arable and open
grassland and a few water courseways.
Throughout the district woodland is often sparse and there
are many significant pockets more adjacent to our village.
The most historical woodland is linked to the ancient mixed
deciduous woodlands of Braydon and Chippenham woods [around
Bowood] and isolated areas within the steeper valleys to the
south west of the district and along scarp edges.
Many woodlands have been designated as Sites of Special
Scientific Interest, or SSSIs. Yew trees are frequently present
within the timberland. Under the Wildlife and Countryside
Act 1981 (amended in 1985), the Government has a duty to notify
as an SSSI any land which it considers to be of special interest
because of its flora, fauna, geological or geographical features.
We are sure that there are many such special interests here.
New planting in some areas, especially of coniferous plantation
is reducing the integrity and value of these habitats.
Melsome Wood which lies on the western scarp of Lyneham rolling
down the Avon Vale towards Christian Malford has significant
history. The origin of the Melsome Wood, stems, excuse the
pun, from the large forestry area having two large wood mills
among the thickets and the hamlet was coincidentally named
Mills Ham. Through generations of West Country dialect changes
the Mills Ham hamlet name has evolved to Melsome.
Lyneham is situated on a chalk plateau approximately 511
feet above sea level and surprisingly enough the water table
is quite high, this may be the reason for the number of ponds
which were scattered throughout the village in the early 1900's.
This prominent water level caused the Air Ministry a major
concern when the station was been surveyed for the future
use as a storage depot in 1937.
Lyneham Court Farm which was situated in the centre of the
current military domestic estate, (Ordnance Survey grid reference:
SU 015 787) had a surrounding moat built either as a form
of defence or just ornamental reasons following digging a
Today, much of the airfield grassland is quite damp throughout
the year and the local farmers frequently mention that the
soils are still quite moist throughout dry periods, making
the land suitable for potato harvest.
Primarily the major wetland ecology of the district found
related to watercourses
such as the Avon and Thames. However, significant interest
is found in man made water elements, particularly the gravel
pits of the Cotswold
Water Park to the north. Over 133 lakes created by gravel
extraction, covering over 40 square miles - and still growing.
Outstanding countryside provides the setting for relaxation
and discovery for adults and children alike - perfect for
a family day out, walkers, birdwatchers, photographers and
outdoor enthusiasts. The Lillybrook stream runs through the
countryside from Bradenstoke Priory ruins to the local Tockenham
Reservoir. For further information about its source, routing
and pictures click here.
Considering that Lyneham sits on a slight plateau and the
surrounding landscape to the south-east is much higher, there
is a high concentration under ground water. The high water
level make the land suitable for agriculture and has resulted
in people being able to keep ponds adequately supplied with
water all throughout the year. During severe frosty weather
the children who lived at the west end of the village could
slide almost all the way to school by testing the ice on each
of village ponds as they went along, beginning with one where
the Jet Garage office, a smaller one opposite, a third outside
Green Farm, No.4 - Mortimers Pond by the side of the Village
Hall, with its little island with a tree on it. This ornamental
pond was filled in for some apparent reason and villagers
could not determine why, it looked so nice in that corner
of the village. No.5 - inside the wall of Pound Farm, No.6
outside Church Farm, and if enough time had been allowed to
get as far as the field and back - No.7 - Marrow Pits - now
at the side of the R.A.F. Station Commander's house.
In very severe weather people were free to go and skate on
the Tockenham reservoir. Throughout the year many people could
walk through the woods and fields and along the path off to
the right of Trow Lane by the side of the lake, making the
walk a very enjoyable pastime, especially during summer months.
Prior to the Second World War, there were many footpaths over
and round the fields and farms and they were well used and
looked after. Children were free to go into the fields to
play except when the grass was getting long for hay or grain
had been planted. The latter was not so much in evidence,
except on Lyneham Court Farm where the land was excellent
One elderly farmer disliked children in his fields and would
chase the minors with a huge stick. Mrs E.M. Hillier the author
of the pamphlet 'Reminiscences of Lyneham 1900 -1940' recalls,
"I was terrified of him, especially when he threatened
to follow and see your mother about you. When we told her
she sent us out to the fields at the back, where there was
(and still is) a delightful stream called Lilybrook, saying
she would deal with him! His son who worked the farm after
him was quite different."
From the village it was quite easy to walk across fields
to New Zealand, Bradenstoke, Tockenham or Brinkworth. many
villagers often walked over the fields to Lyneham Court Farm
to play tennis.
There are still many footpaths scattered around the parish
and ramblers are politely asked to respect the countryside
and in particular the farmers crops and livelihood.
No record of a mill on the Lyneham estate survives until the
18th century. In 1718 James and Mary Baker were granted a
lease of Blind Mill, although the lease did not include the
right to take fish from the millpond. In 1773 Blind Mill,
fed by Lilly Brook, lay to the north of Lyneham village. To
find out more about the mills, click
It was presumably the same mill, then known as Lyneham mill,
which was tenanted by James Hiskins in 1885. Today the site
of the mill, now derelict and overgrown with plants, can be
seen beside Lilly Brook to the south-west of Hillocks Wood
and Lilybrook House. The mill was worked up to c1900 and villagers
were invited to take small quantities of corn for grinding
for home bread baking. The land on the right of the road beyond
the Mill Lane was divided into large allotments and quite
a lot of the holders grew corn.
There is additional evidence that the local area had a few
mills utilised by the farmers in the dense plantations. The
origin of the Melsome Wood blanketing the north-facing escarpment
of Avon Vale provides evidence that the named ‘Mills
Hamlet’ existed. The early plantation had a demesne
property in the centre of the woodland with two wood mills
for the felling of timber.