The land now known as Keir’s Meadow was in the ownership of Eastbridge Manor for hundreds of years, the Manor being formed around the time that Eastbridge Hospital was formed to provide shelter for pilgrims after the murder of Thomas a Becket.
Forming part of the Manor of Blean, owned by Eastbridge Manor, the land was farmed by tenant farmer John Keir, and latterly by George Keir. Jackie Keir came to Blean as a land girl in the Second World War, where she met and married George. George was a councillor, serving for some years as Parish Council chairman. During the war, he was one of only four Blean men who formed a special duty group whose duties were to harass, sabotage and report upon any German forces had the Nazis invaded England.
A substantial portion of Keir’s farm was sold off in the 1960’s to provide the University of Kent at Canterbury. This included Brotherhood Farm, where Ella Keir tended a large flock of Poultry.
In 2007, Eastbridge Manor put up for sale large swathes of land backing onto all the houses on Tile Kiln Hill, and also those in School Lane. The Parish Council were given the opportunity to purchase that piece of land now known as Keir’s Meadow, either for use as a recreation ground or for another purpose to enhance community facilities. It was decided to establish a Nature Reserve, and purchased on the 19th of February 2002 for the sum of £15,000, to be held for the benefit of the residents of Blean. It was named in acknowledgement of the contribution to village life given by the Keir family over very many years.
2002: Keir’s Meadow purchased by the Parish Council
2002-2008: Minimal intervention allowed natural colonisation of the meadow by plants and species.
2008: Work began on improving the reserve. The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership assisted with the design and initial works including: planting of hedges, trees, sowing of wild flower seeds, and creating a pond.
2010: The hedgerow has become established, and mown paths are maintained along the edges of the meadow to encourage residents to walk around the reserve. The meadow is well established with wild flowers.
2014: The dedicated volunteers who maintained the meadow decided to try to renew interest it the meadow by making it more interesting and accessible to residents. New plans were drawn up for the management of the meadow. A species list was drawn up and a photographic record of the meadow flora and fauna was collected and maintained.
2015: As part of the consultation on the Local Plan for Blean there was renewed interest in the meadow amongst residents and it was agreed to establish a more formal management committee to generate ideas, and mobilise volunteers, to build on the work of, and provide support to, the existing volunteers to make the reserve more interesting, more accessible and also improved for wildlife.