Posted by: lhct | May 31, 2023

Cattle grazing locations summer 23

Cattle in wetland picture by Jim Vallance, May 2023

Cattle currently grazing (end May) until mid-June approx, in enclosed Wheat Rick and New Town Nine Acres fields. No public access – though good views!

Picture: Jim Vallance, May 2023

Posted by: lhct | June 5, 2023

Two new farm features officially open

The fast- and slow-moving gears of two exciting projects at Chesworth Farm synchronised recently, with a joint ‘grand opening’ for the Parlour Mead project and the Volunteer Centre Wildlife Garden. The event, hosted by Diane Sumpter representing Friends of Chesworth Farm (FCF), was attended by volunteers and their guests from the Friends and from Horsham Green Gym, both groups being fundamental in different ways to the success of the projects. Plus local district councillors including leader of the council Martin Boffey, along with Horsham District Council (HDC) officers, led by chief executive Jane Eaton, and other staff.

The projects were officially opened by Baroness Kate Parminter. As the Friends’ president, her connections to the local area, and specifically the farm site, go back many years. Plus her current formal role, as chair of the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee is, of course, particularly appropriate. She commented at the Parlour Mead opening, “… Since the Friends of Chesworth Farm was formed back in 2011 there have been lots of developments here… every one of them bringing something special to this wonderful site: both to the people who enjoy it, in terms of human recreation, but also in terms of the contribution it is making in protecting our precious wildlife. And we know that this is desperately needed.”

To describe the projects in more detail, the Parlour Mead project is an ambitious programme of improvement works along a section of the popular Horsham Riverside Walk route at Parlour Mead and Tip fields. It features a new viewing platform, bridge and a 100m surfaced path, designed and commissioned by HDC with input from FCF. The new path replaces the original route, which has been notoriously wet and muddy, and will provide visitors with more extensive views of Parlour Mead and Tip fields and their visiting wildlife. At the same time, a specialist team from the Environment Agency (EA) has restored the two original ponds, and dug an extra one, linking them together in a wetland-complex featuring varying water levels as further enrichment. These linked initiatives have been funded by developer contributions to HDC and the EA and supported by The Friends of Chesworth Farm, who contributed funds from their members.

The Volunteer Centre Wildlife Garden was first proposed to the Friends by local conservation volunteer Tony Cook in early 2022. The project speedily took shape as volunteers have kindly donated over 500 hours of their time, as well as plants and trees. They have created a garden showcasing wildlife-friendly features such as bee hotels, small ponds, safe spaces for a variety of wildlife to shelter and breed plus an increasing number of wildlife-attracting plants. In officially opening the garden, Baroness Parminter warmly endorsed its development as something that everyone could adapt for their own green spaces. This community effort is available to view and enjoy by passing visitors, with plenty of ideas to adapt or copy at home, in a community group or a school. A sign donated by Men in Sheds Horsham directs visitors to the garden from the main track and an information board on the Volunteer Centre picks out many of the garden’s features.

The opening also features in the June 2023 issue of All About Horsham (AAH) magazine and on video (with thanks to Horsham Liberal Democrats). With thanks to Gary James for the still photography and Veronica Ashworth and her team for refreshments.

Posted by: lhct | May 23, 2023

Projects old and new at Friends’ AGM

A RETURN TO key projects and new proposals in the pipeline were the themes presented to an audience of nearly 40 enthusiasts at the recent AGM of Friends of Chesworth Farm.

Vice-chairman Diane Sumpter, warden Ryan Allison, Richard Black from Wilder Horsham District plus audience and Tony Cook reviewing the wildlife garden. Pictures: Gary James

How Chesworth Farm and its varied habitats fits into the overall ecology of the area was one of the topics of special guest Richard Black from Wilder Horsham District, after he had outlined his work engaging with landowners across the district and encouraging increasingly rare species like the otter back to the Sussex countryside. He also touched on how communities can support our green spaces by strengthening their involvement and in our case specifically, reproducing ideas found in the Chesworth wildlife garden.

Horsham District Council parks and countryside warden Ryan Allison spoke about the imminent completion of the long-planned platform, walkway and ponds at Parlour Mead. Plus new pipe-laying works scheduled by Southern Water for this spring and autumn. Tim Thomas described the first successful stage of tree-planting by volunteers in several fields, the trees funded by a generous local legacy. Tony Cook gave a brief history of hedge-laying and how it has been applied on the farm. He finished with a summary of the first year establishing the wildlife garden, next to the Volunteer Centre.

In the formal part of the meeting, vice-chairman Diane Sumpter thanked the group’s committee, and all the volunteers for working on conservation tasks, regular litter-picking and creating the wildlife garden. The treasurer’s report was presented by Robin Wilson who confirmed that the group’s finances were healthy and thanked many of those present for their continued support. Diane then asked the audience to vote in the current committee as well as encouraging them to become members of it themselves. She highlighted that the group has a current vacancy for the role of chairman. The meeting, in North Heath Hall, finished at 9pm.

Posted by: lhct | April 19, 2023

Invite to 2023 AGM

Posted by: lhct | April 16, 2023

New natural stop-over for wildlife

A hardy bunch of volunteers recently planted 100 trees in Chambers Field (between Great Horsham Hill and Jenny Bare Legs field) at Chesworth Farm. The saplings will create a short hedge behind which dense Hazel, Gorse and Hawthorn will form a small copse. Native specimen trees, including Wych Elm, Crab Apple, Cherry and Guelder Rose, will provide colour and fruit.

As the trees mature, we are hoping for increased feeding opportunities for a wide range of insects, with early flowering Gorse for our first spring bees, followed by Cherry blossom. Bird nesting habitat will follow and later, in the autumn, Hazel nuts for our hibernating mammals and apples, hips and haws for our wintering birds.

Planting went well as all the plants had sound root systems and some had even begun to burst into leaf. The addition of a hormone rooting compound should see them off to a good start.

Tree guards will give the saplings some protection from local rabbits. Likewise when the British White cattle are grazing there. Although plastic, the guards are second- or third-hand, having been used in previous projects by Horsham District Council. After this final use, they will be recycled.

Many thanks to our volunteers and to the local benefactor who left the Friends of Chesworth Farm a generous legacy for these trees, with more to come at the next planting season.

Photographs: Group (Rina Quinlan), volunteers hard at work (Dave Verrall), trees planted (Tony Cook)

Posted by: lhct | March 13, 2023

Investigation works by Southern Water start soon

Southern Water are due to start investigation works on the farm next week as part of the upcoming Mannings Heath Wastewater Treatment Works Pump Away Scheme,” explains Horsham District Council.

“Southern Water are investing in a new pumping station and pipeline to transfer flows from Mannings Heath wastewater treatment works, near Golding Lane, to the Horsham sewer network at Chesworth Lane.

“Archaeological investigations along the pipeline route are due to start at Chesworth Farm next week, from 20 March 2023. Construction work will be carried out in sections, with Chesworth Farm currently scheduled for autumn 2023.

“For full details about the project and contact details for Southern Water please visit the HDC website.”

View of Gravel Pit field, early morning by Roy Stagg

Contact details also below

“Please be aware that Horsham District Council have no additional information on this project and are unable to answer any further queries directly at this time.

“If you have any questions or would like to know more, please email

“Alternatively, please call Southern Water on 0330 3030 368, advising the call centre you are calling about Capital Projects, with Project Reference Number (PRN) 751162.”

Picture: Gravel Pit, early morning by Roy Stagg

Posted by: lhct | March 3, 2023

Path & pond improvements coming soon

We are pleased to share that a long-awaited project to improve and enhance part of the Riverside Walk and its approach from Parlour Mead is about to start.

The project is described in detail by the site owners, Horsham District Council (HDC):

“A programme of improvement works along the Riverside Walk path at Parlour Mead and Tip fields is expected to start week commencing 6th March 2023, and last approximately 5 weeks.

This will include the installation of a new viewing platform, bridge, and 100m surfaced path.

The new path will replace the current route, which has been notoriously wet and muddy, and will provide undisturbed views of Parlour Mead field as well as giving more space for nature and encouraging timid species including wading birds such as Little Egret, Water Rail and Woodcock.

In addition, further habitat improvement works will focus on the ponds and wetland area between the two fields.

A specialist team from the Environment Agency will be restoring the two existing ponds, installing an additional pond and linking them together in a wetland-complex. This should be visible from the new platform and make good use of an area that regularly floods.

During the works it is expected that the path section adjacent to Tip Field from Pedlars Way, along the River Arun, and following on through Parlour Mead may be closed at times.

Please follow the on-site signage for alternative routes.

This project is  funded by developer contributions to HDC and kindly supported by The Friends of Chesworth Farm, who are contributing with funds raised by donations.”

Map showing new route of path
Posted by: lhct | January 5, 2023

Planting sees the old year out

On one of the last blustery days of 2022, a band of FCF volunteers put down the first roots – literally – of an imaginative project which should enrich the tree and hedge stock of the farm for years to come.

Project volunteers here (left) Tim Thomas, Tony Cook, Gary James (and far right) Andy Bateson
Photos: Andy Bateson and Dave Verrall (not pictured)

“A total of five 4m-tall native Wych Elm trees were planted in or alongside Parlour Mead, Wheat Rick and Chambers fields,” explains volunteer Tony Cook. “In time it’s hoped these trees will provide food for a number of moth and butterfly caterpillars, in particular the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly, the numbers of which have declined since many trees were lost to Dutch elm disease (DED). Wych Elms, particularly young trees, are viewed as having a resistance, although not immunity, to DED.”

More species will be planted in future months.This exciting project has been funded by money kindly donated to the Friends in a local legacy. If you would like to know more, or volunteer to help with planting, please contact the Friends.

A view of the task from Gary James
“I first got involved with volunteering with Friends of Chesworth Farm through helping in the creation of the Wildlife Garden, back in the spring of ’22. So, I thought I would branch out a bit (pardon the pun) and try my hand at helping plant some trees. We managed to get a relatively dry day in between the December rain. As expected, the ground was claggy with heavy wet clay, but all five trees were planted by early afternoon, even managing to squeeze in a tea break between the planting.”

“I admit that previously I was unaware of the Wych Elm but have since found out that it is the only elm regarded as being truly native to the UK. And that the name relates to the pliant nature of the wood, rather than to witches, who were said to shun elms. Let’s hope that all five trees successful take as The Woodland Trust informs us that many birds eat elm seeds and the leaves provide food for the caterpillars of many moths, including the Peppered, Light Emerald and White-spotted Pinion, as well as the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly mentioned by Tony.”

More elm history
Elms were common hedgerow trees and in the past it is likely that Chesworth had many. It was often considered the village craftsman’s “go-to” timber. Strong, but cheaper than oak and often more durable, it was particularly favoured for the seats of wheelback chairs or for structures where water resistance was needed. So it would be used for anything from chairs to drainpipes, wagon-wheel hubs to ships’ keels, washing dollies to water wheels. Wych Elm is far more resistant to disease that English Elm as it reproduces by seed rather than suckers. It is still found in numbers in the north and is now becoming more common in the English lowlands as more are planted. It tolerates damp soils and “poor air” well.
Tim Thomas

Chambers fence line, open to the elements

Posted by: lhct | November 9, 2022

What is new in the Wildlife Garden?

Since work began on a Wildlife Garden on a damp weekend in March, it is proving almost impossible to keep up with its transformation.The initial proposal for a dedicated, educational wildlife haven in the garden next to the Volunteer Centre was presented to the committee in early 2022 by local conservation volunteer Tony Cook.

Since then, the enthusiastic volunteers from the Friends of Chesworth Farm and from Horsham Green Gym have clocked up well over 500 ‘volunteer hours’, creating and tending wildlife-friendly features – and they show no signs of letting up.

It’s proved a a real community effort too, with people kindly donating local native seeds and plants to boost the biodiversity of the area. Their efforts are all available to view by visitors passing by, with plenty of ideas to adapt or copy at home, in a community group or a school. An information board on the Volunteer Centre picks out the current features and will help you navigate your way around, feel free to have a look.

We recommend that you catch up with the latest developments on the Wildlife Garden webpage or email us direct if you are interested in volunteering and are not already on our contact list. There are a range of gardening tasks on offer most months.

With many thanks to the volunteers for their work and their pictures.

Posted by: lhct | November 5, 2022

Autumn-winter news and events

Please use our Contact page if you would like to know more

Older Posts »