Map of Ashdown Forest


We are a group of enthusiasts who research the historical geography of Ashdown Forest, an extensive area of ancient common land situated in the High Weald area of outstanding natural beauty in Sussex. We focus particularly on the people who have lived and worked on the Forest, and their impact on it, and the impact that the forest has, in turn, had on them. Articles by members of the group have appeared in Ashdown Forest News (the magazine of the Society of the Friends of Ashdown Forest) and other publications.

Ashdown Forest for Sale!

The Group's next exhibition will be held at the Ashdown Forest Centre from 1 April to 31 May 2020. It will tell the story of how, just over 30 years ago, Ashdown Forest was almost sold piecemeal into private hands by the Lord of the Manor, the 10th Earl De La Warr, and how a local fundraising campaign saved it for posterity.

A huge number of people — 1,882 in total — responded to the urgent appeal and they quickly contributed a total of over £175,000 to enable the Forest to be purchased before the short deadline set by the earl expired. Click here to see a list of these donors.

We would like the exhibition to say something about the donors to the fundraising campaign and what motivated them to support the Forest. We are also working on profiles of a number of people and organisations who donated which will be displayed at the exhibition, and we would like to add a few more.

Did you donate to the 1987 fundraising campaign or do you know someone who did? If so, please get in touch with us.

First World War Studies

The Group recently completed a major project to write case studies on all those men who fell in the First World War and who are commemorated on the war memorials at Forest Row, Hartfield and Coleman's Hatch. There are 113 studies in total. Click here to go to the Group's dedicated First World War website, where you can read the studies online. Click here for Researching the Men of Ashdown Forest who Fell in the First World War — Project Overview and Key Findings, an illustrated online article which describes how the project was undertaken and highlights key findings that have emerged from the research. (A PDF version is here)


Articles by members of the group have appeared in Ashdown Forest News (the magazine of the Society of Friends of Ashdown Forest) and other publications. Click here to view a list of publications, which are all available for download.

Joining the Group

The research group meets eight times a year, usually on Tuesday mornings, at the Ashdown Forest Centre. We welcome enthusiastic new researchers who may be interested in contributing to our projects as well as carrying out their own research. There is no membership charge. Click here for a background note about the Group (PDF). If you are interested in joining the group or would like more information please email us.

How to contact us

If you wish to contact the Group please email us.

This page updated 16-10-2019