About Us

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The Friends of Midhurst Common are a group of local people, whose interest is in preserving and maintaining Midhurst Common for the recreation and enjoyment of the local Community.

Every last Friday of each month a group of volunteers from The Friends of Midhurst Common work in conjunction with a South Downs National Park Authority Ranger to maintain and improve areas of the common, mainly the regenerated heath and wet bog areas.

At present the group numbers approx ten volunteers, but would welcome others who would like to join us for this outdoor experience.

It is physical work, but is social, satisfying and does help to keep one fit. If you are interested in joining us please contact us for more information: email: friendsofmidhurstcommon@yahoo.co.uk

We produce two newsletters each year, a number of our members have been regular contributors to articles to review previous editions click here


Orchids in the Old Brickworks

June 2017

Common spotted orchid located on the Old Brickworks site

Common spotted orchid June 2017

The sandpit, or old quarry as many call it, can be quite exciting in early June, when I wonder where the orchids are going to appear this particular year.

Three years ago there were three Bee Orchids that I spotted, two of them had come up in the sand right near where many people walk with their dogs; down to the quarry lake and there was another beautiful example on a mound of grass where noisome youths would roar round on their trial bikes or play with mini bikes.

That same year, I saw just one Pyramidal Orchid at the height of its flowering; a few days later I went to see it again and, to my utter disappointment, it had been picked. The Common Spotted Orchid was also very prolific under some scrubby birch in the same area. With time to look around, much can be seen here.

My orchid highlight this year was about eight Bee Orchids in a different place, although quite near to the single example I had seen originally on the mound of grass.


Links with other groups:

Midhurst Guide HQ is a hall situated in the town of Midhurst situated in the heart of the south downs. The hall is also situated right on the edge of Midhurst Common with many great paths and routes to take for various woodland adventures. Find out more click here

2015 Guest speaker for our AGM:

After the end of the formal business the members were given a talk and slide show by Kate Brickel, founder and co-ordinator of the The Petworth Community Garden. It was a hugely impressive account of a thriving organisation that delivers care, support, companionship and education to the vulnerable, the disadvantaged, the disabled, the young and old.

To fine out more click on the tow links below:


 Update Bepton Road Allotment site

October 2017 see how the willow is growing:

We are continuing to improve this site as a wildlife haven.

During 2016 the following work was undertaken:-

The gate has been improved and looks more in keeping with the area.

Roy has cut/strimmed and maintained some very nice paths around the site. He has also cut back half of the very large nettle bed. The other half has been left for wildlife while the cleared area presents a pleasant glade effect in full view from the gate.

The Russian Vine ha been weeded out.

The boundary with the other allotments has been kept tidy. There have been no complaints to date.

The willows have been weeded and are growing well.

More willow varieties are growing well in Murray’s allotment. They were big enough to be planted out in the bog allotment in the Autumn. Next year they will be tall enough for pollarding.

Thoughts are evolving along the way. The planting of three or four traditional cider apple trees will be undertaken on the drier end of the plot. Cider orchards used to be common around Midhurst 150 years ago. There is a Sussex heritage apple variety place in Brighton. Cowdrary have given the necessary permission for these trees to be planted at the appropriate time.


 

Mineral Extraction Review. For notes on this subject, please go to the latest news page. click here


 

The story of its original formation is as follows:-

How it all began – The Campaign to save Midhurst Common

From December 1970 Midhurst Common became a registered common, under the 1965 Commons Registration Act.

Sand pit from bank Sept 18, 2013

Quarry area 2011

In March of 1986, a development firm named Cranwell Development applied for planning permission to erect 230 houses, plus 8 shops and recreational facilities on the area of the old brickworks and part of the remaining Common (Production at the brickworks began in 1919 and ceased in 1985).

A powerful campaign against this proposed development followed, which included a letter to every household in Midhurst asking for letters of objection to be sent to the Planning Authority. The response was overwhelming, and the Planning Authority received over 700 objections plus six petitions of objections, three adult petitions and three children’s petitions.

In June 1986 planning permission was refused, but later in the year, Cranwell Development appealed against the decision and a Public Inquiry was arranged. However two weeks before the Inquiry, the developers withdrew from the appeal due to the fact that the land was registered Common Land and they would have lost the appeal.

The saga continued a year later, in June 1987, when the owner of the old brickworks site applied to de-register this area of the common. Again there were many objections and it was decided the case should go to the High Court.

Three years later the case had still not been heard in Court but a similar case was heard elsewhere in May 1990 and the outcome of that case ensured that Midhurst Common remained a registered Common, ‘preserved for the benefit of the public’.

Since those days, life on the Common has remained stable. There have been a lot of improvements in recent years, culminating in the clearance of the trees and rhododendron running down from Sunset Hill revealing once more the glorious view of the Downs.

The trees are managed by the Owners of the Common – Cowdray Estates. The South Downs National Park Authority Rangers, based in Midhurst, help to manage the heathland areas of the Common and they also have the care of Midhurst Common Open Access rights. Curiously, the Rights of Way (footpaths) are now, as from April 2011, managed by West Sussex County County Council.

OUR ROLE

Our role has now changed in line with the reduced threat to the Common and so our name was changed to ‘Friends of Midhurst Common’. We now work with the Rangers from the National Park authority in establishing a Management Plan and there is a regular work day on the first Wednesday of every month led by a National Park Ranger.

New members of the Friends are always welcome and indeed very necessary to help keep the group in a position to influence the best care of this beautiful Common. Joining the monthly work group is an ideal way to learn more about the Common and conservation of heathland in general as well as to meet other like-minded individuals. People are welcome to come for just a short stint or for the whole day.

Other activities undertaken by the ‘Friends’ include a litter clearance twice a year, an annual Spring walk, and of course our AGM in November. A newsletter is also produced twice a year, in which articles are designed to give a general insight into the flora and fauna and to give updates of the management of the Common.

HAVE YOU KNOWN MIDHURST COMMON (West Sussex) IN THE PAST.

We are at present collating the results of surveys undertaken about 20/25 years ago, of people who lived in Midhurst and the surrounding area and had vivid memories of how Midhurst Common looked and was used.

If you have known Midhurst Common in the past, may have lived here but have now moved away, we would be pleased to hear from you. It all helps to record activities, flora and fauna, to see how it used to be, what used to be there and has now gone, or what has recently appeared. The e-mail address is e-mail: friendsofmidhurstcommon@yahoo.co.uk.