Art at the Summer House

Two local artists, Carole Hawkins and Wendy Bird, displayed some of their work in the Summer House during the September and early October weekends. Further details of Carole’s work can be seen in this poster.

Cattle grazing

It is proposed that cattle should be brought to graze each summer in one field in the grounds. Years ago the fields were put to hay, and a local farmer cut them and took the hay early each summer; he didn’t charge for his labour and we did not charge for the hay. Now there is no demand for hay, and in recent years the grass has been cut and taken away in late summer, at considerable cost to the local authority and inconvenience to walkers when the grass is high.

A possible solution is to introduce grazing from about June to September. The field in question is the large L-shaped field stretching from Wood Walk and the Community Woodland down to the woods near the River Chess. The field would have to be stock-fenced and include a 3-stranded barbed wire, but there would be “kissing gates” at several access points, and people would remain free to walk through – though obviously it would be wise to keep dogs on a lead. The presence of cattle will keep the grass under control and permit the growth of wild flowers.

There are two options for fencing. One would be to have the new fence close to the existing old iron fences. This would not be too obtrusive, but it would mean walkers not wanting to encounter cows would have to use the paths in the surrounding woods.

The second option would be to place the fence several metres in from the current borders so there would be a perimeter walk around the field, still with the option to cut across it though the gates. This fence would be much more obvious.

Three Rivers District Council and the Hertfordshire Countryside Management Service are keen to get the opinion of those who use Chorleywood House grounds. Please send comments (before mid-October 2010) on what you think of the proposals, and preferences for fencing to:

Kay Fizgerald, Three Rivers District Council, Northway, Rickmansworth WD3 1RL

Petrina Llewellyn, Countryside Management Services, Hixberry Lane, St Albans AL4 0TZ

In addition, please send copies of any emails to Tim Venner, FOCWHE Membership Secretary.

N.B. More information, including details of the exact location of Field J, can be found on the Three Rivers DC website.

Sheep grazing

The sheep have left us, two weeks before time. The first weekend they were here, a dog got into the Dell and savaged one sheep so badly it had to be put down. We put up a whole lot of new highly visible notices asking dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead in these fields, and the sheep returned to contented grazing.

Then last weekend vandals broke down part of the stock fence, so the sheep were no longer secure. The fence was repaired, but it was decided that because the well being of the sheep is paramount, it would be wise to move them away.

It is really sad that such mindless actions have put a stop to this regular event which has been going on for the last six years.

Sunken Garden

Our 2010 project – Re-lay the gravel paths.

Even though we had spent a lot of time and effort planting up the flower beds, the effect was spoiled by the gravel path, which was covered in weeds and moss.

TRDC paid for the materials, and we provided the highly skilled workforce!

Slideshow of the work as it progressed

Hover your mouse over a picture to pause the display

New Flock Arrived

For the last 7 years sheep have been grazing on the Estate in Chorleywood Dell and Dell Field for about 6 weeks at a time. This year is no different and on 28 July we welcomed 24 sheep – 7 in Dell Field and 17 in Chorleywood Dell.

Most of the flock are Hebridean (black) and Jacob (speckled) – see photos below. They will be staying until 8 September (a total of 6 weeks). Robin Harman is the grazier of the sheep.

Local people have been recruited and trained as volunteer ‘watchers’ who will keep a regular eye on the sheep on behalf of the grazier and site owner, TRDC.

Chorleywood Dell and Dell Field are located in the centre of the 160 acre estate and consist mainly of flower rich meadows and some scrub and trees. Sheep grazing brings benefits for wildlife by stopping scrub and trees from invading grassland habitats and helps with the development of a variety of vegetation heights and species.

N.B. Dog owners should be aware that they have a legal responsibility to keep their dogs under close control at all times. Please keep your dog on a lead.

Sheep being delivered by Robin Harman

Come on you lot, hurry up!

… and, best of all, Les Mead’s YouTube video. Les is a Lib Dem District Councillor at Three Rivers District Council.

For more information, see this poster or contact Petrina Llewellyn, Countryside Management Service Projects Officer on 01727 848168 or by email.

Green Flag Award 2010

Once again we have been awarded a Green Flag for the Chorleywood House Estate. This is a prestigious national honour, and we are delighted to have received it for a second year.

To learn more about the Green Flag awards, visit their website Chorleywood comes under the East of England Region.


Max Green has taken these pictures of the signal crayfish found in the River Chess close to Chorleywood House (just down from the football club). Originally from the States, they were farmed over here and escaped into local waters, including the Chess.

Apparently they taste rather nice but they destroy local wild life!

Community Wood

The Community Wood planted in 1995 has done so well that there are now too many trees close together. In order to allow the finest saplings to grow to good mature trees, it is necessary to remove some of the trees, prune the remaining ones and remove scrub. This work is being done by Three Rivers during April, and in addition rides are being cleared through the wood to create pleasant shady paths. During the month there will be a certain amount of noise and disruption, but the results will provide a delightful mature wood for many years to come.


Water vole
Courtesy Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Water voles
The results of the 2009 water vole survey carried out by the Water Vole Recovery Project (Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust) record water voles along the stretch of the river nearby ‘for the first time since 2003, with a significant increase in levels of activity from then’.

Grass snakes
There are also quite a few grass snakes on the estate. They favour the dense cover along the river but they can sometimes be seen basking in the sun during the first warms spell of spring.

Grazing Sheep

The “Flying Flock” came to Dell Field on Wednesday, 16 September 2009, and will be resident on the Estate until after Christmas.
If you are walking your dog in the area, please keep it on a lead.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, like many other conservation organisations, keeps its own flock of sheep to graze its grassland nature reserves. During the last few decades a large proportion of our flower-rich grassland has been lost due to reversion to scrub and then woodland. It is therefore vital to save the heaths, commons and downs that still survive.

Grazing is the traditional form of management but the number of commercial flocks and herds continues to decline. The alternative is cutting but this is a drastic and sudden process that tends to decrease the species diversity of the grassland. Furthermore, the cuttings have to be raked off afterwards, which is a tedious and back-breaking job disliked by most volunteers. Grazing is a more gradual process as the sheep eat some plants and leave others. They don’t flatten anthills like mowing machines but their hooves do create small bare patches where seeds can germinate. They also return some nutrients to the soil in the form of dung.

The Trust’s “Flying Flock” consists of about 40 Shetland ewes. The island breeds are used because they are hardy, people-friendly, and better at controlling scrub than the more modern breeds as they will browse bushes as well as grazing the grass. They are very thrifty and can survive on low fertility systems, i.e. grasslands without fertilizers. They are also much more intelligent than domestic breeds.