Monday 29 January 2024

Horsham's Secret Paradise

 Slightly further out from GBT [25 minute walk max] we have a rather splendid 90 acre wildlife site. It's on land once belonging to one of King Harold's you know things didn't go well for the Saxons during the Battle of Hastings and the upshot was that it fell forcibly into William the Conqueror's lap. Like a hot potato he flung this particular acreage into the ownership of one of his faithful Dukes, William De Braose. There it remained until the story moves onto the Tudor times and by now it's in the mitts of the Howard family...Catherine, fourth wife of Henry VIII, lived here in the Chesworth Farmhouse in her earlier years before her  ill fated marriage and execution. The house is still in private hands and sold for the knock down price [it had to be reduced] of £3million back in 2018. However, despite its impressive lineage and claim to fame it wasn't the first farm on the site nor were the Saxons the first occupants. Research suggests that there was an Iron Age farmstead here and the Romans have done their fair share of poking about too. Now this green haven is owned by the district council and is managed by a mixed team of rangers and enthusiastic volunteers. It's open access for all and specific projects have been introduced to engage with members of the public so that us folks can learn important stuff about our native flora and fauna. The thinking goes that if we are familiar and feel connected to our local environment then we will value it. I've wanted to see the wildlife garden which was launched last year for a while now....that combined with the usually shut visitor centre and free cake....yes I was in there like a shot!

Space wise it's not very big. Impact wise it packs a punch. There right before you are a series of simple ideas that you can take away with you and recreate elsewhere. The big plus is that it's all been done for a very small outlay. You've got a series of small ponds [one has been made from an old bath some helpful soul had chucked in the local river], log piles, a dead hedge to attract invertebrates. a stag beetle stack and even a bee rocket. The bug hotel has come over from the nature reserve near us [featured here often] which has had a recent makeover and the arched concrete used to be a bench in one of the shopping areas in the town centre. Careful planting to bring in the pollinators and five fruit trees including the rather lovely sounding apple called 'Green Custard' and six months later after many hours of toil it's done. 

The Volunteer Centre [possibly called Spring Barn] has been retained from the original farm buildings and shortly the Friends of Chesworth Farm will be sharing the space with the Men in Sheds as they've outgrown where they currently are. All excellent community based groups coming together and combining their skills. There's a monthly litter pick which we think we'll do [I've been doing an occasional one round my road on my own for a few years now] and as we near retirement I expect we'll get more involved on the practical side. Mr GBT and I met doing conservation work [unpaid] for the National Trust originally, so it will be like returning to where we started!

I had planned to blog about my trip up into the Big Smoke with my friend can see I haven't got as far as working out what I want to write as yet. Keep you posted!



  1. That is fabulous. I love that it was achieved on recycled/reused materials, volunteer labour, didn't cost a fortune and engages people. Don't you think that some of the glitzy, modern, over designed and engineered things we have nowadays, although wondrous or awe inspiring, are a but dehumanized. Their scale and complexity means that the average person can make no connection to it, doesn't feel involved. This project on the other and sounds perfect.

    1. I really approve that it makes is achievable for people whatever their budget. Arilx

  2. What a lovely space! I'm captivated by the colour of the paintwork on the window frames in the last photo.
    Lord Jon's a descendent of William the Conqueror (who isn't he related to?) another fabulous place we missed out on inheriting! xxx

    1. It's such a beautiful green isn't it. I always think that too Arilx


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I parked my ample rump on that there bench and followed the instructions on its plaque.  It wasn't exactly an onerous task to have to re...