Ashdown Forest as shown on Saxton's 1575 map of south-east England

We are a small, independent group of enthusiasts who research the history of Ashdown Forest and its surrounding communities. The forest is an extensive area of lowland heath in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Sussex. It has a rich and fascinating history reaching back to prehistoric times.
Inset: Ashdown Forest as depicted on Christopher Saxton's 1575 map of south-east England, surrounded by its medieval pale (click to enlarge).

Recent Research

Recent research projects by the Group include:

The 1941 Wellington Bomber Crash and Airman's Grave
The group has researched the crash of a Wellington bomber on Ashdown Forest on 31 July 1941 which resulted in the deaths of all six crew members. The site is now marked by a memorial, The Airman's Grave. Three articles have been published in recent editions of Ashdown Forest News. The project continues.

To find out more click here.

The Men of Ashdown Forest who Fell in the First World War
To mark the centenary of the First World War the Group undertook a major project to write case studies on all the men who fell in the war and who are commemorated on the war memorials at Forest Row, Hartfield and Coleman's Hatch. There are 113 studies in total. You can read them online here.

An overview essay about the project including analysis of its findings can be found here.

How Ashdown Forest was Saved for the Nation
In 1987 the Lord of the Manor of Duddleswell, the 10th Earl de la Warr, put the freehold of Ashdown Forest up for sale, raising the prospect of it being sold off piecemeal to private investors. An urgent public fundraising campaign was organised by the Friends of Ashdown Forest and the Conservators to enable East Sussex County Council to purchase the Forest and preserve it intact as a public asset for posterity. This it did in 1988. Our research led to an exhibition about the campaign which was held at the Forest Centre in 2022-23. Read more about it here.


Numerous articles based on research carried out by the group have been published in Ashdown Forest News (the magazine of The Society of the Friends of Ashdown Forest) and elsewhere. Click here to view a list of publications, all of which are available for download.

How to contact us

Please contact us by email.


Last updated May 2024.
Ashdown Forest Research Group © 2024