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
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
STEWARDSHIP SCHEME AND KNEPP CASTLE
ESTATE’S OBJECTIVES FOR THE RESTORATION OF
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
To continue to maintain and
update an archive for the park.
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
CD at a cost of £25.