West Earlham woods is made up of Twenty Acre and Bunkers Hill Woods.
The woods are believed to be the second oldest in Norwich, starting life as 18th Century plantations.
Records show that in 1850 Twenty Acre Wood was known as Sandy Plantation and Bunkers Hill was called Long Plantation. This would suggest that the woodlands were both deliberately planted. They may have been part of the Earlham Hall estate (now Earlham Park) where the Guerney family used to live.
The 1846 Tithe maps of Norfolk, shows an area of woodland on the same site as 20 Acre and Bunker’s Hill as does the 1887 OS map (see below).
The layout of 20 Acre Wood has changed over time, with urban encroachment from the south. The layout of Bunker’s Hill has remained largely unchanged. Old Larkman Lane runs within Twenty Acre Wood as a historic green lane used to walk grazing animals down to Earlham Marshes.
Within the woods there are a number of trees which are likely to be from the original plantation. There are several beech and oak with girths of 3 metres plus; sweet chestnut with girths of 4 metres; and sycamore with girths of 2.5 metres. There are also some large Scots pine, some with 3 metre girths (Hoggett and Williamson, 2006).
There is little evidence of coppicing in Twenty Acre Wood with no trace of a coppiced understorey (unless the scattered examples of hazel represent its remnants) and large areas are occupied, typically, by invasive sycamore (Hoggett and Williamson, 2006).
Bunkers Hill may have been named after after Bunker Hill, Massachusetts, which was the scene of a famous battle of the American Revolutionary War in 1775
There are records associated with battles at Bunker’s Hill with the possible discovery of human remains described as ‘ancient’. In 2001 a broken flint core was discovered, a tool used in Stone Age flint knapping (Hoggett and Williamson, 2006).
You can find more information about the history of the local area in this study: Forgotten Heritage: the landscape history of the Norwich suburbs.
If you have any old photos of the woods we’d love to see them please contact us.
Hoggett R. and Williamson T. (2006) Forgotten Heritage: the landscape history of the Norwich suburbs. PDF accessed: September, November 2015, http://hbsmrgateway2.esdm.co.uk/norfolk/DataFiles/Docs/AssocDoc2269.pdf