Warley Place, a nature reserve maintained by Essex Wildlife Trust.
Warley Place, once a very famous Edwardian garden belonging to Ellen Willmott, is now maintained as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust.
Although the house itself has long since gone, a walk round the paths reveals tantalising glimpses of what the estate once comprised. There are exotic trees, remains of cold frames, greenhouses, reservoirs, a terrace and the conservatory that was part of the original building. Although there is colour all year round, by far the best time to visit is in the spring, when snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, bluebells follow and overlap and vie with each other in splendour.
Birds at Warley Place
At least 65 species of birds have been seen on the reserve since 1977, mostly woodland species but also a few water birds attracted to the ponds. Nuthatches can be heard and sometimes seen by the car park and the North pond. Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits are regular sights, as well as the more common Blue and Great Tits, and Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is seen occasionally, as is the Sparrowhawk. Rarer visitors include Spotted Flycatchers, Woodcocks and Siskins. The two bird hides, at the North and South ponds, are great places to sit in peace and watch for these and other flying visitors.
Visiting Warley Place
There is no charge for entry, but please remember that even with volunteers giving their time free the maintenance of such a site is still a costly business and your contributions will be welcome and useful. It is a nature reserve not a public garden so some of the facilities you might otherwise expect, such as a gift shop, toilets or tea room, are not available. Dogs, other than guide dogs, are not allowed. Details of the open weekends.
Volunteering at Warley Place
Every Monday morning a group of volunteers turn up, rain or shine, to carry out the work necessary to prevent the estate returning to the wilderness it became after Ellen Willmott’s death. The paths have to be kept clear; nettles, bracken, Japanese knot-weed, Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed have to be kept in check; sycamores have to be pulled up or cut down and sawn into logs; leaf-mould is prepared and bagged for sale, and the repair of brickwork is an ongoing project.
Once a month a specialist research group visits the reserve finding, identifying and caring for some of the more unusual species.