historic park restoration


The original Knepp Park probably dates back to the 12th century (see Old Knepp Castle) but was disparked around 1610 and turned over to agriculture.  It was not until 1806 when the modern Knepp Castle was built by the architect John Nash, that a new park was established, probably to designs by Humphrey Repton.  This, however, was ploughed up again in the Second World War as part of the war effort (see Farming).                    

In September 2001 the Estate entered about 500 acres into a Countryside Stewardship agreement with DEFRA and reverted the land from arable production to native grassland.  This arrangement is grant-aided for ten years and compensates the farmer for his loss in arable income and subsidy.  Back in 2001 our chosen dominant grazing animal was deer - a decision based on historical and aesthetic rather than commercial grounds. 

The Park Restoration Scheme is not to be confused with the Knepp Wildland Project (see Knepp Wildland Project).  Below are the main objectives as set out in the original report commissioned for the Restoration Project.  We have since moved on and both expanded the area under Countryside Stewardship and our diversity of herbivores, as you will read elsewhere.


             The aim is to take the area around the Castle out of intensive arable cultivation and to lay out a new park in its place to provide an appropriate setting for the castle. With this as the guiding principal, and based upon the findings of a study done by Colson Stone Partnership, the following objectives have been partially achieved for the landscape at Knepp Castle.  We consider that the adopted principles below will secure the historic value of the park for the future but also maintain and improve the aesthetic, wildlife and amenity value of the land. 

·                    To take the park area out of intensive arable production and lay out a new park in its place.

·                    To maintain the economic viability of the land by entering the new park into a ten year management agreement run by DEFRA through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. 

·                    To maintain and enhance the picturesque qualities of the landscape as an appropriate setting for Nash's castellated mansion, while at the same time respecting the historic and aesthetic basis for its layout. 

·                    To conserve and restore, in accordance with available archival and field evidence, historic features which contribute to the historic and scenic value of the site and which complement the use of the site as a park. 

·                    To restore Knepp Mill Pond in order to re-establish its role as the major feature within the setting of the castle and to safeguard its future as an important site of nature conservation interest. 

·                    To improve the water quality, landscape and ecological value of watercourses, ditches and ponds through appropriate management.  

·                    To conserve surviving archaeological features which provide evidence of the history of the site and its use over the centuries and incorporate these into the layout of the deer park. 

·                    To re-establish permanent grassland within the area of the historic parkland and throughout the other areas of the new deer park, maintain the parkland as grazed pasture and actively manage it to improve its ecological diversity. 

·                    To reveal and enhance views and vistas across and beyond the park whilst at the same time screening out any intrusive views. 

·                    To plant new parkland trees in order to reinforce the historic design, enhance the scenic quality, direct views and extend the parkland character into areas which are presently enclosed agricultural land. 

·                    To manage the existing woodlands for their aesthetic and ecological value, within the limitations imposed by the presence of deer. 

·                    To protect areas of woodland with the highest nature conservation and historic value from damage by grazing deer. 

·                    To reduce the noise and visual intrusion from traffic on the A24 and A272 by the formation of earthwork bunding alongside the eastern and northern boundaries of the parkland respectively. 

·                    To conserve and repair surviving historic built structures. 

·                    To continue to record the habitats and wildlife on the site and monitor the effects that the creation of the deer park and the dredging of the Knepp Mill Pond have on the ecological value of the site. 

·                    To provide permissive, open public access to the area around the old castle ruin and provide interpretative material to enable visitors to gain an understanding of the value and importance of the Knepp Castle Estate. 

·                    To increase accessibility of the site for education and by special interest groups by way of increased numbers of open days. 

·                    To implement necessary tree work on historic trees for safety, aesthetic and arboricultural reasons. 

·                    To retain dead wood in trees as valuable habitat for invertebrates, birds and bats where it is considered to pose little potential risk (i.e. away from buildings, drives and footpaths). 

·                    To continue to maintain and update an archive for the park.

Click for the Colson Stone Restoration Management Plan if you would like a full colour copy including maps etc... it is available from the estate office on CD at a cost of £25.


all the images on this page are by David Noton Photography










all the images on this page

 are by 

David Noton Photography

 If you would like to read a short article on the creation of a new park click below

Text Box: article on a creation 
of a Park