Mellis is a small village in Suffolk, England. It has the largest area of unfenced common land in England. Oliver Cromwell exercised his troops in Mellis. It once had a railway station on the main line between London and Norwich, and a small branch line that ran to nearby Eye.
In summer rare plants such as green-winged orchid, sulphur clover an d adder’s tongue fern flourish. The abundance of small mammals also makes the site a favourite hunting ground for barn owl and tawny owl.
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“The largest grazing common in Suffolk and fantastically flower-rich.”
Areas of Mellis Common are literally strewn with wildflowers having been farmed by the common rights-holders for centuries, using traditional hay cutting and grazing. The Trust continues to manage it in the same way today to ensure the blooms and wildlife diversity remain. In summer rare plants such as green-winged orchid, sulphur clover and adder’s tongue fern flourish. The abundance of small mammals also makes the site a favourite hunting ground for barn owl and tawny owl.
In stark contrast, the western end of the Common is botanically poorer due to the fact that it was ploughed and farmed more intensively during World War II. Since medieval times Mellis Common has been used as a source of clay for building, and is renowned for its ponds and wet depressions which add to the variety of plant and animal life.
Some ponds support the nationally rare great-crested newt.
Management is underway to improve habitats that have declined over the years. Old pollarded trees and overgrown hedges have been cut to prolong their life and silted-up and overgrown ponds have been dredged to boost their wildlife value.
Mellis Common was generously donated by Lord Henniker to Suffolk Wildlife Trust in 1989. Part of the Common is privately owned.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust