The unexplained death of very young infants, now known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is far less frequent now than it was a hundred years ago. In Victorian times and into the Twentieth Century some families will have buried their dead infants not in a churchyard or cemetery but in some well loved local place. This was and is perfectly legal following a registration of a death, subject to certain requirements. The Friends of Colwick Woods is currently researching the history of our own Cot Death Memorial Plantation, about which very little is known. If any reader can help us with this then please make contact.
The Plantation covers around a third of an acre of land on the far western edge of the nature reserve, running from the former Inn on the Hill (Ma Hubbard’s) up to the north western corner of the covered reservoir. It is now a dense impenetrable thicket of trees and shrubs which have established very successfully over the last twenty five years. There is a range of native trees and shrub species, including some that are not commonly found elsewhere in the woods, such as Geulder Rose (Viburnum opulus) and Hazel. The Plantation has become an important refuge for wildlife.
We know of only one burial in this part of the woods, and that was before the Second World War. It seems unlikely that the Cot Death Society (which no longer exists) would have dedicated such a large planting scheme to a single death more than thirty years before, and we think there may be a great deal of secret history to uncover. Long before the Bakersfield estate was built people from the overcrowded Victorian terraces around Sneinton Boulevard will have been just a short walk up the hill from what is now our Cot Death Memorial plantation. The tallest trees now rising above the general canopy are Poplars. As with all young plantations this would benefit from some active management to help the trees grow better. We would also like to start coppicing the Hazel. Coppicing is a traditional technique that brings sunlight to the woodland floor, benefiting wildlife.