High Weald

landscape_parkland_sheep_benendenWhile much of the High Weald remains quite an informal landscape, significant areas were formally managed in medieval times as deer parks and later as formal 'designed' estates and gardens.  Using detailed map regression, this report helps to fill a gap in our knowledge by uncovering the lost history of these formal elements of the landscape.

Report title:
Medieval Deer Parks and Designed Landscapes in the High Weald.

pdf Medieval deer parks and designed landscapes (2.56 MB)

Status and date:
Complete, September 2009

Research purpose:
To identify and map medieval deer parks and other designed landscapes within the High Weald.  To also establish survival and loss of these locally distinctive features.  The results will also contribute towards our understanding of the Field and Heath component of the pdf Management Plan (2.56 MB) .

Research aims:

  • Using English Heritage's Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) data to search for lost and surviving deer parks and designed landscapes across the High Weald.
  • To prepare a GIS layer of lost and surviving deer parks and other designed landscapes to inform the AONB Management Plan.

Research findings:
There is extensive evidence of former designed parks scattered across the High Weald, comprising a mixture of both formal and informal parklands.  The majority of designed landscapes in the High Weald were created and laid out in the post-medieval period.  Many medieval deer parks have become incorporated into later designed parks or survive as 'ghosts' in the historic landscape, traceable by the pale boundary, veteran trees and place-names.

AONB Unit comment:
Historic parkland is a vital cultural component of the landscape that needs to be recognised and understood. It is so far under-represented in our understanding of the landscape.

This research provides a basis for generating detailed advice on their protection, management and restoration especially where they may be threatened by development or further changes in management.

Commissioned by:
High Weald AONB Joint Advisory Committee (JAC)

Commissioned from:
Dr. N R Bannister; Independent Consultant

Funded by:
The High Weald Joint Advisory Committee (JAC)