In 1949 Alfred Wagg a merchant banker of the Hermitage, East Grinstead, set up what is now The East Grinstead Memorial Estate Limited as a charitable trust for the benefit of the residents of East Grinstead.
The assets placed in trust comprised the East Court estate and incorporating Ashplats Wood. During the latter part of the 20th Century various parts of the land were sold and the playing fields and Ashplats Wood leased to the Mid Sussex District Council.
The company continues to manage Ashplats Wood in conjunction with the Council in accordance with a detailed Management Agreement and continues to invest all its capital from which annual grants are made to worthy causes in the town and surrounding area.
Request for applications
The Company has a board of 12 Directors and the current chair is intending to stand down after 6 years in the post but continue as Company Secretary.
Accordingly, the board now seek applications for the position of Chair. The successful applicant will reside in the East Grinstead area and will have a strong commitment to the area, an interest in woodland management and would naturally be able to chair Directors Meetings.
We recently got an update on what Halsford Park School has created with the help of a recent grant from EGMEL
“We wanted to give you an update on the stage that the East Grinstead Memorial Trust donated money towards in 2020.
Due to the pandemic and school closure, the build of the stage was delayed. However, we are now delighted to inform you that the build did go ahead during the Christmas break. We were able to pool the money with a grant we also received from East Grinstead Lions and build a 5m x 3m stage, meaning that a whole class of 30 children can be on it at the same time.
As we come out of lockdown the outdoor spaces will become a much more integral part of our children’s welfare, it is a key lesson that we have learnt through this terrible pandemic.
The stage has been the catalyst to start our new project to raise approx £45,000 to renovate the outdoor areas at Halsford Park school.
We would like to thank you once again for your support in making the education of the children at Halsford Park a little more enriched, you will of course be receiving our new application in the coming weeks. We wish you all the best and if we can be of any help to the East Grinstead Memorial Trust please do not hesitate to contact us.“
This week it’s been necessary to remove 3 Ash trees from the small wooded area next to the East Court entrance at the bottom of Blackwell Hollow. The Ash trees were suffering from a disease known as “Ash dieback” and were slowly succumbing. Ash dieback is predicated to affect 80% of the Ash trees in the UK, radically changing our landscape as it progresses.
In an ideal world we would leave such affected trees to die, and fall to the ground naturally, and in doing so, as they rotted down, they would provide a valuable habitat for insects, birds and mammals. These 3 trees were close to the pavement and road though, and would in time have become hazard – hence the need to fell and remove them.
It’s always sad to lose any tree, but the open space created by their removal will quickly become filled by other species.
The fields and woods at East Court have been a great place for East Grinstead residents to enjoy during the Covid-19 lockdown. The wide open spaces have enabled people to socially distance whilst still appreciating the scenery and fresh air.
Unfortunately though there has been a significant amount of rubbish left there by visitors, and often, rather than taking it home with them, people have piled it high by the bins, or just left it where they’ve been sitting. Mid Sussex DC have done their best to clear up the rubbish, but they, of course, are operating with Covid restrictions as well. Big thanks to some publicly-minded citizens who have taken it upon themselves to do a bit of clearing up.
Let’s all hope that this public health crisis is over soon and the grounds at East Court get a chance to recover.
Every year our Charity makes grant awards to local organisations that we believe align with our Objectives. Applications are invited through Mid Sussex Voluntary Action, and are considered by our Grants sub-committee before being ratified by our Board of Directors.
In 2020, 18 grants have been made totalling £20,180:
EGMEL Grants 2020
2nd EG Rainbows
Help with running costs
4th EG Guides
New Mess Tent
6th EG Rainbows
Help with running costs
6th EG Scouts
6 Tents, Fridge & Cooler for group camp
Replace garden furniture
EG Assoc. for Mental Health
Creative expressions arts group, employ artist, provide materials
EG Football Club
Improve pitch drainage
Costs of craft materials
Increase availability of counselling hours for local children
Felbridge & Sunnyside CC
Replace the cricket wicket
Laptops etc to support voucher system to support safe distancing
Our charity this year is sponsoring one of the flower beds in the High Street in East Grinstead to the tune of £500. The donation will go towards planting out and maintaining all the floral displays in EG which have been so spectacular in recent years.
It is with sadness that we report the passing of Allan Tyler, aged 84. Allan was a staunch supporter of our company, and East Court/Ashplats Wood in particular.
Allan gained his interest in maintaining public parks and green open spaces through his employment by the Greater London Council.
He was the East Grinstead Town Mayor in 1982/83 and in 1991 joined East Grinstead Memorial Estate Ltd (formerly East Grinstead War Memorial Ltd). Allan was Chairman of the company for a number of years.
He was involved in setting up the national ‘Green Flag’ scheme, and East Court gained this ‘Green Flag’ status in 2019.
Allan will be sorely missed and we send our condolences to his family and friends.
Many people know of the War memorial in the High Street, but not so many people know of the other War Memorial in the grounds of East Court. This smaller one is dedicated to both the armed forces and civilian casualties of the 1939-1945 War.
Each year at 11am on Remembrance Day there is a large ceremony in the High Street, but there is also a smaller ceremony preceding it at 10am in East Court. On November 10th this year, as every November, East Grinstead Memorial Estate lays a wreath in both ceremonies to remember local people from East Grisntead who gave up their lives for us.
You can learn more about the East Court memorial on our Roll of Honour page.
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.”