As part of the Frensham Inclosure Act of 1855, Churt received two areas awarded for exercise and recreation - Redhearne Green and an area beside Frensham Great Pond which became known as the Old Cricket Ground. In 1921 Churt acquired the present recreation ground as a memorial to the fallen of the First World War and cricket transferred to this location, more central to the village. The Minute Books of the Parish Council and of the recreation ground show continual clearing of the Pond Recreation area which fast became overgrown. This area was extended in 1956 when Lady Lennard of Woodcote presented to the council, land adjoining the Pond recreation Ground in order to preserve this beauty spot.
The current woodland site is some 12 acres and there is one public right of way (public footpath 30a) through the site which runs from the north-west
down to the south east. There is also a public bridleway (bridleway 29) which is located nearby just beyond the boundary on the western edge of the site.
In August 2021, as an integral part of its ‘Net Zero for Churt’ programme which responds to the climate emergency, Churt Parish Council invited Surrey Wildlife Trust to survey the site and to make management recommendations which would preserve it as a quiet woodland recreational area but which would enhance its biodiversity. Surrey Wildlife Trust reported that the woodland here is mixed semi-natural woodland with abundant scots pine, locally frequent pedunculate oak and silver birch. Other species recorded include rowan, beech, hazel, occasional holly, sycamore, yew, common gorse, locally abundant bracken, an abundant feather moss species, areas of ling and bell heather, common nettle, ground ivy, occasional herb robert, false brome, cock’s-foot (along Pond Lane) and locally frequent bilberry. There are a few lighter areas of woodland indicating where the habitat was more open historically. One of these is upon the area of the Old Cricket Ground where the Scots pine are less dense. An area to the south of the site, at grid reference SU84633 39623, supports remnants of lowland heath where ling and bell heather are locally frequent on the woodland floor. Google Earth’s photographic records indicate that in 1999 this area was a small patch of open heathland within the woodland very close to another patch of heath just beyond the boundary to the south of the site. Broad-leaved trees are more frequent at the northern edge of the site by Pond Lane. The southern edge of the site, south of the remnant heathland mentioned above, supports younger scots pine trees which have a higher density, some of which are standing dead wood. A non-native laurel species was recorded occasionally across the site.
The full report and recommendations from Surrey Wildlife Trust can be downloaded here. Churt Environmental Working Group is now developing a management plan which will implement the recommendations of the report and will publish this as a draft for consultation, expected to be in January 2022.
CHEWG volunteers and our 1st Churt Scout Group have already begun some initial work to improve safety and enhance biodiversity. You can read about the Scout volunteering session in October 2021 here.
One of Surrey County Council’s early actions in implementing its new tree strategy has been to ask its Councillors to plant a tree in their Division. Pictured below, our local SCC Councillor David Harmer chose Churt’s woodland and planted his Field Maple ( Acer campestre ) to add to the biodiversity of the wood, which is predominantly Scots Pine.