At the centre of Chorleywood lies its beautiful Common, 80 hectares (approx. 200 acres) of grassland, and woodland, declared a County Heritage Site and has Local Nature Reserve status on account of its conservation value and high ecological importance.This is one of the most important wildlife sites in Hertfordshire, combining acid heathland, neutral grassland and chalk meadow all on one site, together with a series of ponds supporting rare plants and amphibians and secondary woodland which has grown up since commoners’ cattle ceased grazing after World War I. Some 70 plant species, 50 birds and almost 300 fungi have been recorded on the Common in addition to squirrels, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, voles, woodmice and Muntjac deer.
Recreation and Leisure
The Common also provides a centre for recreation and leisure activity, both formal and informal. As a Registered Common owned by a Local Council, the public has right of access on foot for “air and exercise”. Subject only to reasonable bye-laws, residents and visitors alike enjoy recreations such as walking, jogging, kite flying and ball games.
Chorleywood Common has a permissive horse track, this is clearly marked with signs on the circular route around the common. The 1954 Scheme of regulation and the 1995 bylaws prohibit horse riding on the common unless on the permissive horse track.
The Council have become concerned about the increase in horses not using this permissive horse track, in breach of the byelaws, causing damage to the wild flowers and being a potential danger to dogs and small children. We have also been advised that it is unlikely that riders will be insured if they ride on Chorleywood Common outside of the horse track.
We respectfully ask that horse riders stick to the horse track designated for their use.
More formal recreation is provided by Chorleywood Golf Club which maintains a nine-hole course on the Common.
Chorleywood Cricket Club has its pavilion and playing square on the Common adjoining the A404. Established in the mid-19th century by the first salaried secretary of the MCC, it supports three senior elevens and three very promising junior teams. Two of the colts sides reached the County finals day in 2007.
There is also a circular walk on the Common.
The Council has adopted a detailed Management Plan for the Common and the implementation of this plan has resulted over the last few years in the recovery of all seven ponds, the steady return of heather and gorse to the heathland areas and a magnificent annual display of wild flowers and associated butterflies in the chalk meadow. Work to improve the condition of the woodland is at present underway.
The administration of the Common is undertaken by the Parish Rangers who carry out the many day to day maintenance tasks required. The Rangers may be contacted at the Parish Council office on 01923 285594.
Chorleywood Common - Annual Projects Works Programme 2013 to 2014
The Parish Council agree an annual work programme based on the information from the Management Plan. The majority of the work is carried out during the winter months. The current plan was agreed in May 2013, for the forth coming year.
From time to time Friends of Chorleywood Common, who oversee aspects of its use, organise a traditional "Beating of the Bounds" day when local families help by walking the entire length of its boundary. Children in particular are welcomed so that they can learn about the Common and how its boundaries can be protected from encroachment. Willing young volunteers are sometimes suspended head downwards en route with the aim of ensuring that they remember this Rogation Sunday event and continue the tradition on to future generations.
Christ Church, the Parish Church and a local landmark stands facing the Common on the A 404. The original church was built in 1845 as a chapel of ease to Rickmansworth. When this building became dilapidated it was demolished, with the exception of the tower, and rebuilt to a design by Street. The new church was consecrated in December 1870. It has a cedarwood spire of unusual form on the flint built west tower and inside there is a fine traceried opening between the chapel and the south chapel.
Chorleywood Common Management Plan
Copies of the Management Plan, which gives a full picture of the Commons’ history, topography with lists of species and the Councils management aims are available here. A free leaflet giving details of the Circular Walk may also be obtained from the office.
Press Release 28th May 2014
Conservation grazing to commence in Larks Meadow on Chorleywood Common within the next few weeks – weather permitting
Hertfordshire has lost well over 90% of its natural grassland since the end of WW1. What is left is nearly all preserved on common land, where it is protected by law. Grazed from medieval times until the 1950s, Chorleywood Common has special grassland habitats, where the plants have developed to thrive on a low nutrient soil. Chorleywood Common has lost 2/3rd of its unimproved grassland over the past 100 years.
Our Common has three grassland habitats on a single site – acid heath, neutral grass and chalk meadow – and for this reason it is a County Heritage Site, a County Wildlife Site, a Local Nature Reserve and is on the national list of special habitat areas in Britain.
The grassland on our Common is of national importance.
We will be using Virtual Fencing – this has been used on the Continent for some time now and recently the City of London has been installing it on its land at Burnham Beeches and Epping Forest. It consists of an electric cable, which works in the same way as a standard electric fence, except that it is buried in the ground.
The cattle wear collars which react to the electric current. As the cattle approach the perimeter of the grazing area, they first trigger a warning buzzer. If they then go any closer, they get a mild shock, just as they would if they touched an above ground electric fence.
The cattle learn very quickly what the buzzer means and also quickly learn where the limit of their area is and keep away. The cable has no effect on people or any other animals.
We will be grazing the area known as Larks Meadow, near Dog Kennel Lane. This area is important as it has three different types of grassland on the one site, which makes it unique. The area will be split into three compartments.
This is for a number of reasons:-
- We can target specific areas which need to be grazed.
- The cattle can be moved on to stop over grazing.
- It can act as security if we need to turn off the fencing.
- The cattle can be placed in an area of shade/shelter due to weather conditions.
With first-hand experience of delivering Higher Level Stewardship Schemes at our graziers farm and other sites, their team has the expertise to work to the Natural England specification for habitat enhancement of grassland and historic parkland.
The animals share a historical relationship with our landscape too. Our traditional cattle breeds have grazed across the country for hundreds of years. For this reason, the animals are particularly well suited to our environment. They have been bred over the centuries to make best use of native grasses and wildflowers without the need for intensive grassland management through fertilisers and pesticides.
Using Longhorn cattle, the old breeds eat a much wider range of plants and grasses than modern commercial breeds, without losing condition. In fact, it's generally agreed that a mixed diet adds to the flavour of the meat!
Another added benefit to grazing these old breeds in public parks, is that they are noted for being particularly docile and relaxed with people and importantly dogs.
If you require any further information, please contact the parish office.