Chelsworth Woodland is a registered charity which owns and maintains the woodland situated to the west of Claypit Lane in the heart of the village, for the benefit of the residents of Chelsworth and other members of the public. The Woodland is managed by a Board of Chelsworth residents and is financially supported by the Village 100 Club Draw, a contribution from the annual Village Open Gardens event and funds raised from community events held in the Woodland such as Rock Choir BBQs.
The Woodland site was offered to the village in 2001. The site consisted of two sections, firstly a central and western part which was originally arable land and, secondly, an eastern section which had been the site of a claypit; amounting in total to 2.5 acres.
The arable section had been planted with 820 young trees in 1983 with the aid of a grant from the Forestry Commission. This planting had not been wholly successful and by 2001 only approximately 540 remained. The new trees complement the 500-year old pollarded Oak and the 300-year old Ash coppice stool in the mature old north boundary hedge. In 2016, 12 young English elms were planted, cloned from mature elms in Gloucestershire which have survived Dutch Elm disease, as part of the Great British Elm Experiment.
The old claypit, noted as a refuse tip in old edition of the Ordnance Survey, had been filled in over a number of years with building materials, rubbish from the village and nearby farms as well as concrete and topsoil from RAF Wattisham. Before taking ownership of the Woodland it was deemed prudent to commission chemical and visual test to check on the land. This test included a contamination investigation report which concluded that the site was not hazardous; this report facilitated the purchase of the site in 2002.
At the time of transfer the primary objective was to develop the Woodland “for the use of the villagers for walking, sitting, contemplating life and relaxing”. This has involved the planting of trees that will give a range of different interest (foliage, flowers and fruit) through the year, as well as general maintenance. Paths through the Woodland have been created and benches placed at strategic points.
All maintenance has been and continues to be carried out in a naturalistic and not overly managed way by working parties of volunteers from the village. Habitat enhancement features are also being undertaken.
Grid Reference: TL 979482