Hurst Meadows is one of the Parish’s most important and accessible areas of publicly owned open space. Situated to the north of the village, it comprises nearly fifty acres of open grassland, hedgerows and woodland with stunning views over the Low Weald countryside.
The land was transferred to the Parish Council as part of an agreement with developers that formed a key part of the Council’s Neighbourhood Plan.
Hurst Meadows was opened to the public on 1 May 2018. It is managed for the benefit of the community and for the protection of the countryside. The land is adjacent to the popular Millennium Garden which links the west and east sides of the village and in 2019 the trustees of the Gardens voted to incorporate the Garden into Hurst Meadows.
Hurst Meadows is managed by the Council’s Estates and Facilities Committee. The Committee has delegated some of the day-to-day operations to a working group which consists of councillors, the Estates and Facilities Manager and a local ecologist. Operations are guided by the Hurst Meadows Management Plan and the Woodland Management Plan (see below). These are dynamic documents which develop as we deepen our understanding of the land, its flora and fauna and the needs of the local community. The working group can often be seen surveying the wildlife, leading nature walks or carrying out conservation management tasks such as clearing docks by hand to avoid disturbing nesting skylarks!
Since acquiring Hurst Meadows, the Parish Council has planted a Heritage Orchard in Buckwilly Field with over thirty varieties of old Sussex apples. These have been carefully sourced to provide the village with a fantastic living record and community asset. In Hovel Field adjacent to the new Bramble Park development, around a hundred native trees, including oak, hazel, rowan, willow and alder have been planted. As it matures, it is hoped that this new wood will help connect the designated ancient woodland of The Wilderness (not open to the public) to the surrounding hedgerows, giving wildlife more opportunity to move around and providing food and shelter for pollinators and birds.
As well as The Wilderness, Hurst Meadows also includes Tilley’s Copse small wood. This is situated behind Fairfield recreation ground and is easily accessed from the footpath that runs along the recreation ground or from the new footpath through Bramble Park. Tilley’s Copse is renowned for its lovely bluebells in the spring. Both woods are part of the Woodland Trust’s “Lost Woods of the Low Weald and Downs Project.”
Hurst Meadows is a beautiful and peaceful place to enjoy nature. It supports an interesting and attractive variety of habitats including grassland, wildflower meadow, woodland and hedgerows and these are home to a variety of trees, plants, insects, birds and animals. Informal walks are held throughout the year to introduce residents to the flora and fauna. These are advertised widely including on the Parish Council’s Facebook Page.
Since acquiring Hurst Meadows, the Parish Council has improved public access and safety by laying paths and putting in gates, signs and benches whilst at the same time being careful to preserve the character of the countryside.
There are several ways into Hurst Meadows including access via the footpath opposite the Health Centre in Trinity Road, through gates from the Millennium Garden and from the farm track at the bottom of Marchants Close.
See map below for the names of the fields that comprise Hurst Meadows. (This map is in the process of being updated to include the woodland and further improve accuracy.)
The Council has set up a conservation volunteer group who help with routine maintenance, butterfly surveys, keeping the Meadows litter free etc. In the process volunteers learn more about the ecology of Hurst Meadows, it’s wildlife, trees and flowers, as well as having fun and gaining some land management skills. To get involved in this group please contact the Parish Council office.