Billingford Common in south Norfolk is perhaps best known for its impressive five storey windmill, which was the last mill in Norfolk to grind corn by windpower. The surrounding common is an interesting site with a diversity of habitats and plant species.
Patches of acid grassland to the north are nutrient-poor and wildflower rich, with patches of lady’s bedstraw, sheep’s sorrel, common knapweed, lesser stitchwort, germander speedwell and tufted vetch.
An oak dominated woodland stretches along part of the eastern edge and fills the southern-most part of the site, with a ground flora of grasses, wood avens, ground ivy and nettle. Areas of scrub occur largely to the far southeast of the site, with hawthorn, sloe and willow, as the site heads south to the River Waveney.
The centre of the site has swathes of marshy grassland amongst woodland, with interesting species diversity. This is the habitat that suits large flowered hemp nettle (Galeopsis speciosa
) which is scarce in Norfolk. Fen-type species occur here, such as meadowsweet, great willowherb, wild angelica, and yellow-flag. Also here are stands of reed sweet-grass, reed canary-grass, common reed and remote sedge, with greater pond sedge in abundance.
Semi-natural broad leaved woodland; marshy grassland; acid grassland.
Best time to visit
Billingford Common has something of interest to see in all seasons. The marshy grassland areas will be particularly great to visit in summer - with lacy swathes of meadowsweet, brightly coloured (and scarce in Norfolk) large flowered hemp nettle, and butterflies floating overhead.
A group of people have been gathered together to raise funding for Billingford Windmill to enable the cap, stocks and sails to be totally renovated. The group is known as the Friends of Billingford Windmill.