The Cowdray Estate hosts corporate entertainment, hospitality events and multi leisure activities events on our 16,500 acre Estate, a large proportion of which is forestry and agricultural land.
The Cowdray Estate is near Midhurst, West Sussex close to the borders of Surrey and Hampshire, just one hour from London. The Cowdray Estate offers leisure activities such as fishing and wildlife experiences – including badger watching.
The Cowdray Estate also offers filming locations, venues for your events, wedding reception venues – please contact the Leisure Office at Cowdray Park Golf Club for more information.
The Cowdray Park Polo Club is now one of the largest in Britain with over 700 non-playing members. The main event of the year is the Gold Cup, which is held in July and has become gradually bigger and better each year.
Cowdray Newsletter – Winter 2014/2015
The second edition of our Cowdray newsletter is available to download here:
SUSSEX LIFE MAGAZINE
Lady Cowdray is pleased to be writing a column for the county magazine Sussex Life. See below the April article and click links to previous editions.
A hundred years ago the Cowdray Estate counted forestry as one of its most important businesses. Forty men were employed in the forestry department and timber was sold for a wide variety of purposes – pit props for Britain’s huge coal mining industry, construction works, newsprint, rifle butts during both World Wars and dozens of different uses in agriculture including stock pens and fencing.
Donald Macdonald our Woods Manager, joined Cowdray in the summer of 1985 and will be retiring this year. He has seen a tremendous amount of change in the past thirty years. He says: “Uses for timber have been in and out of fashion but wood is now very much ‘on the up’ and more wood is harvested now than when I joined the Estate. A great deal is used for energy purposes, quality timber is used in construction and large quantities of lower grade timber are sold to be broken down and reconstituted to form sheets of MDF, chipboard and other products for the building industry. We also know from local experience that a great deal goes into wood shavings which are used for equestrian bedding now instead of straw. However, mechanisation has seen the workforce drop to around fourteen full time employees.
“In the 1950s there was a drive to re-forest large areas whose timber had been plundered during the 2nd World War; indeed there had hardly been time to recover from World War I” explained Donald. “Extra woodland was added to the Estate’s acreage. A great deal of spruce was grown then for newsprint but that market has disappeared as re-cycled paper has become the norm. We are now more likely to be planting hardwood – you only have to take a look at ‘Grand Designs’ to see that beautiful hardwood floors have outstripped carpet as today’s favourite floor-coverings! We are coppicing large amounts of chestnut, much of which is used for fencing but a lot also goes to feed the fashion for wood-burning stoves although it is not a wood which would previously have been chosen for open fires.”
Donald has always loved exploring local history, searching out stories about the Estate and becoming a mine of information. A favourite book is “The Old Woodlanders” where a chapter was devoted to the Cowdray Estate. He has also enjoyed hosting visits by The Royal Forestry Society at Cowdray when it has been the destination for one of their five annual field meetings. This year they will be visiting on 2nd September to hand out long service medals and it will be Donald’s final meeting before he retires. I asked Donald for a final thought about his time on the Estate. He replied: “I’m told that the old Lord Cowdray, together with his Agent, Master of Horse and Head Forester would all tour the Estate on horseback most Sunday mornings. I would have loved to have done that!” However, I am sure that Donald will have plenty of memories of his own when he heads off for retirement in Scotland.