East Court & Ashplats Woods awarded Green Flag

A prestigious Green Flag will fly in every Mid Sussex town for the very first time. 

The recent press release from MSDC tells the story:

“East Court and Ashplats Wood in East Grinstead has been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as one of the very best green spaces in the world. The popular park and woodland joins St Johns Park in Burgess Hill and Beech Hurst Gardens in Haywards Heath in achieving Green Flag status.

The three Mid Sussex sites are among a record-breaking 1,970 UK parks and green spaces and 131 in thirteen other countries around the world, to receive a prestigious Green Flag Award this year – the mark of a quality park or green space.

This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

East Court Lawns and Playing Fields are overlooked by the striking East Court mansion. The terraces have views over the parkland towards Ashplats Wood and Ashdown Forest beyond. The estate benefits from a number of community sports pitches, pavilion and two children’s play areas. There is also a tennis club on site. 

Alongside the mansion is a planted garden of remembrance and a WW2 War memorial. The recreation grounds are flanked by Ashplats Wood, 28 hectares of ancient woodland with streams, ponds, wildlife and woodland walks. The grounds and facilities are managed jointly by Mid Sussex District Council and East Grinstead Town Council, who worked together on the Green Flag application.

St John’s Park sits alongside an old Roman Road and is just a short walk from Burgess Hill town centre. It is a vibrant green space, providing a home to a local cricket club and includes a large skate ramp area and children’s playground, outdoor gym equipment, a multi-use sports court and tennis courts.

Situated on the western edge of Haywards Heath, Beech Hurst is a six-hectare garden with stunning views of the South Downs and some spectacular flora and fauna. The gardens boast a wide range of community and sports facilities, including lawn green bowling, petanque, croquet, a children’s play area and a miniature railway.

Councillor John Belsey, Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery said: 

“We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for East Court and Ashplats Wood for the very first time.

“We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors, and these awards celebrate the dedication that goes into maintaining East Court and Ashplats Wood, Beech Hurst Gardens and St Johns Park to such a high standard.”

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “It’s fantastic that we have more Green Flag Awards in the UK than ever before, joined this year by 131 International winners.

“Each flag honours the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. We congratulate each and every winner on their fantastic achievement.”


Floral tribute to Alfred Wagg

East Grinstead Town Council have created a fantastic floral display in the High Street this summer to celebrate, amongst others, the 50th anniversary of our founder, Alfred Wagg.

In common with many great benefactors, Mr Wagg was apparently a bit shy of publicity, but hopefully if he saw this display he would appreciate the sentiment.

Graffiti problem at East Court

The Sports Pavilion at East Court has suffered two graffiti attacks in the last few weeks. Early in June some very offensive obscene artwork appeared, and no sooner had that been removed than another lot appeared overnight on the 21st June. The photo shows the mess on the wall, but a door and two information signs were also attacked.

Needless to say it is very frustrating when some thoughtless people are pulling in the opposite direction to those of us who are trying to improve the facility for all.

Grass Meadows at East Court

Earlier in the year we reported that certain grass areas at East Court would in future be left unmown to encourage wildflowers and the insects that are associated with them.

Despite the fact that we haven’t had much rain this summer, the unmown patches are now clearly visible, with an abundance of wild flowers already apparent.

Our friends at Ashplats Conservation Group will be keeping an eye on these areas during the year to let us know what species emerge.

McIndoe Path finished

Work to improve the McIndoe Path that was started during the winter is now complete, with a handsome new flight of steps making the climb up from the bridge to the higher path, which has also been resurfaced, now much easier.

Previously this area had suffered from excessive erosion as walkers tried in vain to avoid the worst of the mud. In coming months and years we will undoubtedly see considerable greening around the new steps as the woodland floor there is given time to regenerate.

Upgrade of the McIndoe Path starts

Work has started on a joint project between MSDC and EGMEL to upgrade the McIndoe Path through Ashplats Wood.

The path runs from Lancaster Drive, down to a bridge over the stream, and from there onwards to the East Court playing fields. Every winter it gets extremely muddy, and almost impassable.

The project involves installing a flight of steps from the stream to more level ground, and from there to the Lancaster Drive, hardcore is being laid to provide an-all year walking surface.

Parking issues at East Court

Recently, East Grinstead Town Council, who own the East Court Mansion and the adjoining car parks, have implemented some more stringent parking restrictions.

Unfortunately this has had the knock-on effect of drivers starting to park their cars along the access road to the sports pavilion, which we own, but is leased to MSDC. The parked cars are not only spoiling the visual amenity value of the landscape, but are also ruining the grass and creating a hazard for legitimate users.

We are currently in discussions with various parties to try and resolve this issue without resorting to draconian measures.



Increased protection against Travellers

Unfortunately it has recently proved necessary to install very heavy concrete barriers at the end of the road to the sports pavilion to prevent travellers causing further damage to East Court.

Whilst all are welcome to enjoy walking the open space and woods at East Court, driving vehicles and caravans over the park causes much damage and cannot be tolerated.

We hope that these measures will only be temporary.

Ancient oak loses an important limb

One of our oldest oak trees recently lost a huge limb in high winds

The Pendunculate Oak is near the green shipping container on the estate road and when surveyed a few years ago, it was estimated to be 250 to 300 years old. It is listed on the Woodland Trust Ancient tree register.

The bough that fell is about 1m diameter at its base and the whole branch must weigh many tonnes. It’s a good job nobody was underneath it at the time!

MSDC do keep a look out for dangerous trees, but not surprisingly it’s not always possible to predict when this sort of event may occur.