This part of the property adjoins the western edge of Ludshott Common and lies south of Headley Down. The Committee had always been concerned with its vulnerability to housing development and in 1983 managed to buy 30 acres of the Copse, with funds built up from generous legacies and donations over the years, to be followed, in 1986, by the remaining 35 acres after a local appeal for funds.
This lovely area of woodland in which to walk and ride has particular ecological importance as the site of an ancient coppice of Sessile Oak. Mostly found in the north of England, these trees tolerate lighter, more acid, less-fertile soils. However, they are now a fairly rare landscape feature in the south-east of England as their habitat has diminished with building encroachment, but also, as here, by the invasive nature of other tree species. Their wood was used for fuel and to make charcoal for use in the kilns where iron was smelted, the bark was an important source of tannin for curing hides in the leather industry and the acorns as food for pigs.
The Sessile Oak coppice covered approximately 100 acres for many centuries. From the 65 acres of Gentles Copse that was acquired, about 20 acres of coppice remained. However, the trees have not been coppiced for many, many, years and would not survive the shock if this was attempted now but the woods are slowly being restored and expanded.
Due to the generosity of a local resident, and in memory of his wife, 600 acorns were collected from beneath their parent trees, by the family in the autumn of 1999, and were grown on for us by the Forestry Commission. In 2002, birch and pine trees were cleared and the 400 saplings that had germinated from the acorns were planted on the hillside to expand the grove of Sessile oaks.
In 2006, another generous donation, in memory of another supporter of the Ludshott landscape, was received and was used to propogate a further batch of acorns which had been collected here, by friends.
Participants in a NT Working Holiday planting the Sessile Oak saplings in 2010
Friends of the donor
The saplings from all these acorns ensure the continuity of the genetic
stock of the Sessile Oak coppice.
The ancient boundary banks on the hillside to the south of Pond Road, are evidence of the old farming practices of the commoners of Ludshott. These banks were raised to denote land ownership and to keep cattle out of the coppice. There is also a small area of Chestnut coppice along Gentles Lane, which was obviously deliberately planted at some date, however, no traces of old house foundations have ever been found here. But the remains of old quarries can be seen, on the hillside to the north of Pond Road, where material was dug to create the roadways and early buildings in Headley Down. Today, the paths down the hill include a footpath, from Furzehill Road on to Ludshott Common that was dedicated in 2001.Other pages on the website show latest events, maps and projects.