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Titsal or Titsall Wood is on the hundred boundary and shared between Brampton and Shadingfield. It is one of only five woods classified by Oliver Rackham as medieval woods in Blything. Medieval woods were not necessarily natural woods with a species continuity with the original wildwood. It is likely that since before Domesday they had been intensively managed by the local community as a renewable resource. Every five to twenty years the wood was cut down and allowed to grow again from the stools to yield underwood- poles and rods used for fuel, fencing, wattle and daub walling. It was common to have, scattered among the underwood, oaks that had been allowed to stand for 25 to 100 years, which when felled were a source of timber ie for beams and planks for building houses and barns.

The following map is part of the Brampton Tithe Map.

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The parish boundary cuts through the wood,which at that time belonged to the Earl of Gosford. The portion in Shadingfield was about three times the size as the Brampton portion. The green dotted line in the photograph indicates the position of the parish boundary to the north east of Wood Farm. It runs across field 268, which was thereby divided between the two communities.

titswood_bank.jpgTitsal wood is in fact dominated by hornbeam coppice. The picture on the left shows part of the north western corner of the wood which appears to have been enclosed from the main body of the wood by a deep, wide rectangular ditch. All of the trees are hornbeams that have not been coppiced for decades.

The origin of these hornbeam woods is unknown but it can be surmised that they were deliberately planted because of the value of the coppice. In this respect the hornbeam was valued more than the ash, maple and hazel that were naturally the commoner species in a wood left to its own devices.

The ground flora in this part of Titsal Wood consists of patches of moss, an indicating that the closed canopy of hornbeam restricts sunlight reaching the woodland floor.

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This picture shows a veteran hornbeam pollard, on the outskirts of the wood, close to the river.





















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Titsal Wood is one of a small cluster of ancient woods in the contiguous parishes of Brampton, Shadingfield, Willingham, Sotterly and Wrentham. These five communities straddle the northern border of Blything.

Another cluster is to be found straddling the south western edge of the hundred comprising the villages of Ubbeston, Laxfield, Dennington, Bruisyard, Sibton and Benhall.

















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These woods seem to be the remnants of a much wider cover at Domesday which stretched in a swathe of communities across the northern claylands of Blything.

Ancient woods, practically all of which have been coppiced since mediaeval times or earlier, are found throughout the East Anglian Plain. There are around 1,000 ancient woods more than one hectare in size, covering about 7,200 hectares. About 40% of woods are less than five hectares in area and most of the rest are between five and twenty hectares. The woods are not equally distributed across the Plain. The South Suffolk and North Essex Claylands has about three times the density of woods and a higher proportion of larger woods than Mid Norfolk area and the South Norfolk and High Suffolk Claylands. In comparison with other Natural Areas, the East Anglian Plain is of high value within England for its ancient woods, when comparing the amount of ancient woodland, the proportion that has still has semi- natural vegetation, and the variation within the vegetation types.

sparrow_woodred.jpgThe sketch map to the left shows the positions of other woods to the north of Titsal Wood (TW) taken from the current O.S. map. The circles represent community churches. The one cloe to Redisham Hall ( RH) is the ruined church of St James.

Sparrow's Thicks (ST) is interesting. Like Titsal it is divided by a parish boundary (Weston and Shadingfield). The other point of interest is that the name Sparrow probably refers to the Sparrow family of Worlingham, a parish to the north east on the outskirts of Beccles. At the time of the Tithe Apportionment, the Countess of Gosford was Mary Sparrow heiress of the Worlingham Hall estate. This marriage is probably how her husband came to be listed as owner of Titsal Wood. The Sparrows owned land in several parishes to the south of Beccles.

The woods are all situated close to parish boundaries. The cluster on the boundary between Ringsfield and Redisham appears to be centred on Little Redisham Hall (RH) which is actually now in Ringsfield. Just to the north of the Hall is the ruined church of St James Little Redisham. The village of Ringsfield is much further to the north at Rinsfield Corner. There is very little evidence to trace the development of compartmentation of parishes in Suffolk. At Worlingham a detailed map of the manor has survived c 1606 and this together with a good manorial archive has provided evidence the community's open fields and greens at the edges of the parish were the last to be enclosed.

To place the woods in a regional context, it should be noted that the ancient woods of East Anglia are amongst the richest in the country for flowering plants. Some of the most attractive species are also abundant, with carpets of anemones, bluebells or violets being present in many. Plants, such as wood millet, wood sorrel, and herb paris are not found in the East Anglian Plain except in ancient woods. Oxlip is abundant in many west Suffolk and north-east Essex woods. The only other areas in Britain where it exists are a much smaller group of woods west of Cambridge and a few woods in the Thames Valley. Unspotted lungwort occurs in just three woods in the East Anglian Plain, and nowhere else in Britain. Trees such as wild pear, small-leaved lime and service are found in these ancient woods, but they are not generally found outside ancient woods unless they have been planted by man, although small-leaved lime is found in a few hedges in part of Norfolk and south Suffolk around Layham and Groton.

Two main vegetation types (as described in the National Vegetation Classification) dominate the Natural Area's ancient woods. These are ash-maple-dog's mercury woodland (W8) and oak-bramble-bracken woodland (W10). The ash-maple-dog's mercury woods are found on chalky clay soils, and have the highest number of ancient woodland plants. Oak-bramble- bracken woodland is found on neutral or acidic soil and is less rich in species. It is this community that has the attractive carpets of bluebells in the spring. Within the ash-maple- dog's mercury group, there are woods dominated by hornbeam (in the extreme south of the East Anglian Plain and in a cluster in north-east Suffolk/south-east Norfolk), and small- leaved lime (in Mid Norfolk and in the east of the South Suffolk and North Essex Claylands). Elm occurs as a shrub in some woods although it is now more common in hedges, particularly in the South Suffolk and North Essex Claylands.