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Hedges

Hedges
Joseph Brigden, 75, trims the 26ft yew tree hedge at Manor House, Betsham, Kent, 1960 © TopFoto.co.uk

These days, we think of hedges as things to peer over so we can see what the neighbours are up to. They mark the limits of our gardens, and establish where our territory begins and theirs ends.

Hedges have always played this function, right back to pre-Roman times, but they were never so sharply political as when they began to mark the boundaries of land that the aristocracy took for themselves during the Enclosure Acts, beginning in the 18th century.

Now they represent a different kind of loss, the loss of the natural habitat of creatures that lived in them, and flowers that grew by them, as they were uprooted during the 20th century. Re-establishing England's hedgerows has become one of the prime goals of modern-day environmental campaigns.

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