Did you know within a stone’s throw of Horsham town centre you can walk or ride through 90 acres of beautiful countryside any day of the year? Chesworth Farm dates back to before 1086 and one of Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Howard, once lived next door at Chesworth House. Chesworth Farm is one of the Horsham District Year of Culture 2019 Hidden Gems as many people are not aware it’s even there!
The farm is owned and managed by Horsham District Council (HDC) as a countryside site. You can stroll along the footpaths looking over fields of cows and sheep. You may spot an owl swooping over the hedgerows or see a cloud of butterflies gracing the wildflower meadows. The River Arun runs along the site, creating the wet meadow in addition to the grasslands livestock sometimes graze, and the ancient hedgerows are a haven for wildlife.
The Friends of Chesworth Farm voluntary group supports HDC in managing the farm. Formed in 2011 to ‘foster and promote the preservation, enhancement, improvement and appreciation of Chesworth Farm’ they have worked with HDC on several projects including large-scale habitat restoration featuring an all-weather path, a boardwalk, bird screen and information boards for visitors. The site’s wildlife and its farmland habitat are thriving and it is hoped this trend will continue.
The Friends regularly hold events, including specialised ‘Hedge Detectives’, bird, bat and moth nights and small mammals monitoring as well as guided walks. You can find all their upcoming events on the Friends of Chesworth Farm website.
Other events are run at Chesworth Farm by Horsham District Council, schools, adult education groups, private groups and Sussex Wildlife Trust. The Trust offers year-round wildlife activities for children. Their events calendar features all their events, including Nature Tots every Monday morning in term time for little ones aged 3 – 5 years to explore the natural world. The children learn to become confident outdoors, learn woodcraft skills and enjoy nature with stories, games and activities. For the older children, aged 5 to 11 years, there’s Wildlife Watch on selected Saturdays each month, also in term time. The children join in with hands-on outdoor activities, learning to work with others and finding out about the changing seasons and how local wildlife thrives. The farm’s Volunteer Centre can be hired privately via Sussex Wildlife Trust.
In contrast to locals who have grown up using Chesworth Farm for recreation, many people living in Horsham have never visited it! But if you wander down Queensway, or Kerves Lane, or several other roads close to the farm, cycle along the Horsham to Southwater route or take the Horsham Riverside Walk along the River Arun you’ll find this Hidden Gem in the Horsham District.
With thanks to Damian Brewis for this beautiful photo of Chesworth Farm.