Friday, April 9, 2010

The Park Pale

The Ashdown park pale is a thing of beauty. Not only that, it is enormous and ought really to be an ancient monument in its own right. Built originally around 1300AD, it was intended to keep the deer within the bounds of the Ashdown hunting chase at a time when there was a hunting lodge belonging to Glastonbury Abbey on the Ashdown site.

Park pales consisted of a bank and ditch with a wooden palisade, or fence, on the top. They were designed to let the deer in through gaps in the pale called deer leaps, but once inside the emparkment the deer could not get out again. At Ashdown the park pale that surrounded Middle and Hailey Woods has mostly been either ploughed out of the fields, demolished or worn away, although the later haha is still visible. However to the south of the sarsen field and most particularly around Upper Wood, the park pale is a magnificent earthwork that still stands up to 9 metres high on the escarpment of the hill. There is a footpath that runs up the back of Upper Wood and around the top of the park pale and from this vantage point you get a superb view of the surrounding landscape and in particular the remains of the Romano-British settlement to the south. All part of the complex historical landscape in which the current house sits, and a reminder that though the history of Ashdown post 1660 may be a fascinating one it is matched in interest by what happened before the house was built.

6 comments:

Carol Townend said...

That's fascinating, Nicola! I hadn't heard of a Park Pale before. I wonder if there is a map which shows the full extent of it as it was in the 1300's?

Nicola Cornick said...

I haven't seen any maps dating earlier than the 17th century, Carol. A pity because it would have been fascinating to see the extent of the deer park, rather than having to guess! It's possible to work out a lot of it from the earthworks that are left but to get some hard evidence would be very welcome.

Jan Jones said...

It's all so interesting, Nicola. I'm going to have to come over for a personal tour. When are you open?

Nicola Cornick said...

The house is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2 - 5pm, Jan, and the estate is open all daylight hours except on Fridays. Let me know - I'd love to show you around. Then we could nip up to Sezincote!

rtfgvb7802 said...

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Nicola Cornick said...

Having searched the local history archives in Ashbury I now discover that the Park Pale was built in 1204.