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Chorleywood House Estate Local Nature Reserve

Open all year round

40 hectares of historic parkland in Chorleywood. 19 points of interest

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Birds

Bird Hide

Summer bird visitors to the Estate include blackcap, chiffchaff, willow warbler, swallow, whitethroat, house martin and swift.  Winter visitors include fieldfare and redwing.

 

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nature

Chalk and neutral grasslands

Meadow

The Estate contains a network of semi-natural chalk and neutral grasslands which support a variety of wild flowers, insects, small mammals and birds.  The most important grassland areas are within The Dell and Dell Field which are grazed each year to help maintain and enhance the diversity of the areas.  The area is special because it has unimproved grasslands which support a diverse mix of chalk loving plants, something which is now quite rare.  You might be able to spot cowslips, violets, agrimony and scabious to name just a few of the wild flowers.

 

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attractions

Chorleywood House History

Site of historical interest

Chorleywood House Estate was originally comprised of just two farms which passed from generation to generation until they were eventually purchased by John Barnes, a wealthy stockbroker.  It was John Barnes who replaced the existing farm house with a Georgian mansion.  By the 1870s the Estate consisted of the main house, a coach house, stables, several cottages, gardens, pleasure grounds and parklands and was owned by Howard Gilliatt, the cousin of the Lord of the Manor of Rickmansworth.  In 1892 the ninth Duke of Bedford bought the Estate for his eldest daughter, Lady Ela Monica Sackville Russell.  Lady Ela enlarged and modified the house in to the Victorian mansion we see today.  Lady Ela also made many modifications within the grounds to make it as self-sufficient as possible.  Please note the Chorleywood House is now private apartments and is not open to the public.

 

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Coralroot Bittercress

Plant Bed

Coralroot bittercress is found within the woodland areas, especially Wood Walk.  This nationally rare plant has a limited localised distribution in the county and the UK.  The plant grows to 30-60cm in height.  If you look closely at coralroot bittercress you should be able to spot the dark purple bulbils which are how the plant spreads – the bulbils fall to the ground and take root.  Look out for its purple flowers between April and June

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Dell Wood

Woodland

Dell Wood contains the remains of flint walls which once formed Georgian farm buildings as well as a structure that was an ice house.  A flint lined leat follows a route from Dell Mound down to a pond which was constructed to provide a water source for the farm animals.  The farm buildings were destroyed by fire and subsequently abandoned

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attractions

Generator House

Site of historical interest

The Generator House was used to make electricity for the Estate and all of its buildings

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nature

Local Nature Reserve

Wildlife

Chorleywood House Estate is approximately 64.6 hectares and was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 2007 in recognition of its value to people and wildlife.  The site combines formal parkland, open meadows and mature woodland leading down to the banks of the River Chess

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River Chess

Water Habitat

The River Chess has been described as one of the cleanest and best chalk streams that flow off the Chilterns.  Some of the frequent spring sources were modified in the late 19th century to form the now derelict watercress beds.  If you are lucky you might spot brown trout, water crowsfoot or even an elusive kingfisher.

 

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Sculptures

Artwork

There are several sculptures around the pond.  These were created in 2013 and feature a variety of plants and animals – take a rest on the fox bench and see if you can spot the bear lurking in a tree or the owl with her chicks

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Sculptures

Artwork

There are several sculptures around the pond.  These were created in 2013 and feature a variety of plants and animals – take a rest on the fox bench and see if you can spot the bear lurking in a tree or the owl with her chicks

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Sunken Garden

Plant Bed

The Sunken Garden, originally designed for Lady Ela who lived in Chorleywood House from 1892, is a lovely feature of the Estate.  The Friends of Chorleywood House Estate now spend many hours maintaining the area for all to enjoy

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building

The Summer House

Building

The Summer House was Lady Ela’s private museum and Summer House.  It is now used by the Friends of Chorleywood House Estate who meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month to carry out volunteer tasks within the grounds.  For example they help maintain the sunken garden and the wild flowers on Dell Mound.  Everyone is welcome to lend a helping hand and no experience is necessary.  If you would like to find out more visit their website: http://www.chorleywoodhouse.org.uk/

 

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attractions

The Waterwheel House

Site of historical interest

The waterwheel house was used to pump water from the River Chess to a well near the main house

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Wild daffodils

Plant Bed

Wild daffodils flower in spring before the trees have grown their leaves and cast shade on the woodland floor.  Wild daffodils are similar to those you find in your garden but they have paler petals and are smaller and more delicate.  Wild daffodils were once quite abundant but have declined considerably during the 19th century.

 

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Wisteria Circle

Plant Bed

The wisteria circle has an iron framework, a feature favoured by Victorian horticulturalists.  The woody stems of the original wisteria plants, which are now over 100 years old, form a circle of interwoven branches.  The plants continue to be pruned and trained so that the trailing sweet-smelling flowers can be enjoyed between April and June when it is in flower

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Woodland ground flora

Woodland

The woodlands, particularly Wood Walk, contain a diverse mix of ground flora typical of semi-natural woodlands including bluebell, primrose, wood melick and yellow archangel

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Park Information

Formal gardens and lawns, flowerbeds and speciality trees surround the 200 year old Manor House and Summer House. The network of woodlands includes ancient and secondary woodland. They are protected species on the site, such as numerous colonies of Coralroot Bittercress (its main area in Hertfordshire). The ground flora supports ancient woodland indicators. The grassland areas are composed of semi-improved neutral to acid grassland with chalk grassland in Chorleywood Dell which is recognised as a key neutral grassland site in the Biodiversity Action Plan for Hertfordshire.

 

Visitor opinions are very important to Three Rivers District Council.  Feedback helps to ensure that the Council works towards providing the quality and facilities expected by visitors.  Would you like to have your views heard?  Well now's your chance.  Complete the online Chorleywood House Estate survey here and help the Council improve your local open space.  Paper copies of the survey are available upon request by phoning the Council on 01923 776611.  There is no closing date - results will be reviewed throughout the year and appropriate actions put in to place.

 

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On Site Facilities

  • Car Park (Free)Car Park (Free) icon
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How to get here

Parking:

Drive via the A404.  Free car parking at the main entrance approximately 1/2 mile west from J18 of the M25. Directions here


Public Transport Information:

By Tube: Chorleywood Station (1 mile walk across the Common).

By Bus: Services from Watford, Rickmansworth, Chesham & Amersham call Traveline 0871 200 2233


Cycling:

Cycle rack provided opposite the pubic tennis courts


Park Events

Chorleywood House Estate Local Nature Reserve Volunteer Session

2 July to 2 July, between 9:30am and 12:30pm

The Friends of Chorleywood House Estate formed in 1998 with the aim of helping Three Rivers District Council to restore and improve the fields, parkland and woods that comprise Chorleywood House Estate and to conserve it for future generations.    Come and get stuck in to a bit of light work - all efforts are welcome, however large or small.  No experience necessary. For more information visit the Chorleywood House Estate website

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Chorleywood Community Orchard Volunteer Session

6 July to 6 July, between 9:00am and 12:30pm

Chorleywood Community Orchard was launched in 2008 as an exciting community project to be enjoyed by everyone - local people, visitors to the area and wildlife.  In February 2009 volunteers planted the first 24 apple trees in the beautiful surroundings of Chorleywood House Estate Local Nature Reserve.  The orchard is now home to 140 fruit trees; a mix of apples, plums and cherries, all carefully chosen either because they are old Hertfordshire varieties  or are known to thrive locally. Volunteers come together on the first Saturday of each month to maintain the orchard with tasks ranging from weeding and checking the tree ties to formative pruning and fruit thinning.  Please come along to lend a helping hand - everyone is welcome and no experience is necessary. Visit the Chorleywood Community Orchard website for more information.

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Chorleywood House Estate Local Nature Reserve Volunteer Session

16 July to 16 July, between 9:30am and 12:30pm

The Friends of Chorleywood House Estate formed in 1998 with the aim of helping Three Rivers District Council to restore and improve the fields, parkland and woods that comprise Chorleywood House Estate and to conserve it for future generations.    Come and get stuck in to a bit of light work - all efforts are welcome, however large or small.  No experience necessary. For more information visit the Chorleywood House Estate website

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