It might come as no particular surprise to discover that Park Wood on the old London Road in Waterlooville was once part of the ancient Forest of Bere that covered most of southern England.
Nurtured today by a group of friendly and committed volunteers under the overall purview of The Woodlands Trust, Park Wood is a small area of semi-natural ancient woodland between Wallis and Queens Road, opposite Queen’s Enclosure. It today consists of a core wooded area and two former meadows, now partly regenerating with native species. It is distinguished by its ancient yews and other fine feature trees and a wide variety of woodland plants.
Protected, Park Wood was always treated well by the families who owned it – firstly William Friend who purchased the land when the Royal Forests were disbanded and sold. His eventual estate numbered some 400 acres (the Hart Plain Estate) but Park Wood was kept as a pleasure garden for his family and guests. You can still see remnants of the old Walled Garden which was used to grow fruit and vegetables for the Estate.
The estate then passed onto another influential figure, Dr F E Beddow, who lived at Park Wood House until 1953 whereupon his housekeeper, Miss Ellis, lived there during her lifetime. In 1970, according to his will, the trustees of the estate were beholden to sell off parcels of land in order to build a public library either in Waterlooville or Milton in his name – it was built in Milton.
Fortunately however for us today, although much of the land was sold and Park Wood itself started to deterioate due to neglect, the immediate area of Park Wood itself was kept intact and saved when in 1991, Havant Council sublet the Wood to the Woodland Trust as management agents for 199 years.
So following their efforts and perhaps more especially, the volunteers of The Friends of Park Wood, paths were reopened, programmes of laurel, sycamore & holly clearances were undertaken, seats and information boards were added.
All the locals here in Waterlooville love Park Wood and it’s a particular haunt of The Hound who regularly meets his friends there so of course, The Hound gives Park Wood his five paws award.
Contributor & Photographer: Sue Lowry
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