Passfield Common and Hollywater

Two hundred and thirty one acres of land around Passfield and Conford was given to the National Trust in 1948 as a bequest from Dr Arnold Lyndon, who had been the Hon. Treasurer of the original Committee formed in 1906 to acquire Ludshott Common.

Passfield Common

View to the south 

Passfield Common was beginning to lose its characteristic landscape, of open heathland and wood pasture, due to the changes in farming methods, so that by the 1980’s the area had become very overgrown with trees (mainly birch), scrub species like gorse, and bracken.

Concern grew that this was happening but with the help of a commoner’s cattle, a return to a traditional sustainable type of management could be contemplated. In 1990, with financial help from the Hampshire Heathlands Project, 60 acres were fenced, a small herd was turned out and the results of the grazing have been monitored ever since. These have been excellent with the development of small open glades, which have been enlarged by cutting back trees, particularly in 1995, when some were also experimentally pollarded. Temporary fences have been erected when needed in the summer months to keep the cattle out of the moor area at the Hollywater end of the common. The importance of this habitat and the success in its restoration resulted in the whole of Passfield Common being included in the Woolmer Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1994, and in the Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) in 1998.  Over the years the Highland cattle herd has diminished in number and the effect on the scrub regeneration is noticeable. Re-stocking is planned.

Wood Pasture Passfield Common

Wood pasture, Passfield Common

An older generation pollard oak on Hollywater Green, now hemmed in by recently regenerated holly scrub, but still very much part of a working wood pasture landscape where a commoner continues to exercise common rights and graze cattle.

Hooly Scrub Passfield Common

Several veteran trees can be found on the Common, these are very old oaks which had been pollarded by the commoners.  See article by Head Warden, Chris Webb, in Commons Link issue 12 - October 2011.

Holly scrub

Passfield Green is also included in the SSSI area and harebells, bistort and black knapweed grow there, which limit the extent of any grass cutting that can be carried out.

Hollywater Pond

Hollywater Pond lies at the west end of Passfield Common and was probably originally created as a fish pond or for breeding ducks and wildfowl.  It was drained during the Second World War, possibly because it was thought to be a marker for enemy planes, as happened at the Frensham Ponds. By 1986 the Pond was totally overgrown with alder trees which were felled that year. The dam, sluice and inlet leat were repaired in the following year and the whole pond was dredged in 1989, after which it took about 12 months to re-fill.  The dam and sluice have sprung leaks several times since then, requiring fairly major repairs, but the pond provides a successful habitat for water plants and birds. For future events, maps and other projects see other pages on this site.