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At the time of the Enclosure Act in 1855 Penn and Common Woods, which are not now owned by the
Estate, had the right of the Commons extinguished and the timber crop was felled and planted with
beech. Beech was chosen to supply the rising number of chair manufacturers in High Wycombe and
indeed firms like Dancer and Hearne in Penn Street, whose output of Windsor-type chairs rose to a
little under half a million in 1938. It is not previously known what timber was growing in the
woods prior to 1850, but it is thought that the woods would have been dominated with oak and ash.
Of the 182 Ha of woodland on the Estate the following woods are classified as ancient semi-natural: Charcoal and Penn House Grove, Brook Wood, Pugh’s Wood, Twichels Wood, Vicarage Wood, Downham Grove, Witheridge Wood, part of Westfield Piece, Park Grove, Marrod’s Wood, part Great Beards Wood, Sandels Wood, Netherlands Wood, and West Wood.
The woodlands fall within the boundaries of the Chilterns AONB and make an important contribution to the beauty of the landscape and the reasons for the creation of the AONB.
Belts of trees serve a number of functions other than providing a source of income from forestry or game covert. They provide shelter in what otherwise would be an exposed environment, especially along the ridges and are a screen to suburban developments off the Estate.
Trees are felled in small plots, usually less than 3 Ha and replanted with hardwood species, the objective being to ensure a continuous woodland presence traditional to the landscape of the area.
Landscape objectives are paramount in the management of the woodland, and will override but not exclude the production of timber. The renewal of the woodlands will be carried out in a manner to minimise a change in the appearance of the landscape.
The general public have been granted free access to both Sandels Wood and Netherlands Wood. Other woodland on the Estate is criss-crossed by a multitude of footpaths and the two permissive horse rides.