Woodside Green and Wall Wood

Woodside Green and Wall Wood are two areas to the south west of the main forest, given to the National Trust as later additions to the initial bequest.

Woodside Green and Wall Wood were both parts of the original Hallingbury estate, including Hatfield Forest.  This had been owned by the Houblon family since 1729 until broken up and sold at auction in October 1923.

Woodside Green

Woodside Green, as well as the smaller Wright's Green and Mott's Green in Little Hallingbury (just to the west of the M11), were given to the National Trust by Major Archer Houblon, in 1935.  It is now a registered common with recognised grazing rights.

It is a large area of open grassland, of about 27 hectares (66 acres), bounded on two sides by minor roads. Cattle graze on the green in summer, with the road exits protected by cattle grids. Woodside Green Farm, houses and cottages line the western fringe, forming a linear hamlet.

Eighteen cottages in Woodside Green were offered for sale at the auction in 1923, along with Woodside Green Farm plus two cottages.  The auction catalogue describes the presence of a shop, a smithy and a forge.

Cottages at Woodside Green, from 1923 Auction catalogue
Cottages at Woodside Green, from 1923 Auction catalgue
Cottages at Woodside Green, from 1923 Auction catalogue

Maps from over 100 years ago show there were many more trees on the green, mostly around the margins, so that it was more like a woodland pasture.  With the help of funding from the People's Postcode Lottery, we are undertaking a programme to restore this historic landscape.

In December 2018, we planted over 100 new trees, each protected by a substantial metal tree guard.  These were mainly field maple, pedunculate oak and hornbeam but also included small numbers of hawthorn, blackthorn, wild cherry, crab apple, black poplar, small leaved lime, large leaved lime, beech , whitebeam, and sessile oak.

Wall Wood

Wall Wood was presented to the Trust in 1946 by the Essex and Puckeridge Hunts, to whom it had been given by the Stacey family, in memory of Frank Stacey who had died in 1932.  He had been a member of the local management committee for forest from 1928 to 1932, during which time he oversaw restoration of the forest floor, after the severe damage caused by timber extraction before the forest was bequeathed to the National Trust.  A memorial plaque was subsequently erected in the forest.

The wood had been sold at the break-up auction in 1923 for £4,000, the quality of the timber and proximity to hard road access attracting keen interest and a good price.  

Dappled sunlight showing coppiced trees
Dappled sunlight in Wall Wood
Dappled sunlight showing coppiced trees

It is about 26 hectares (63 acres) in size, forming the eastern border of Woodside Green and is best described as an ancient coppice woodland.  

After a gap of over fifity years, we have started a long term project to restore the woodland to its former state, by restarting coppicing, cutting approximately 1 ha each year.  The first area is in the north east corner, visible from Woodside Green.

A historical note

Wall Wood was the ancient wood of Great Hallingbury whilst the smaller Monks Wood, to the south of Wall Wood, was the ancient wood of Little Hallingbury, with Woodside Green forming a wood-pasture divided between the two, creating a Hatfield Forest in miniature.  

Although outside the boundary of Hatfield Forest, forest law still applied.  This governed the harvesting of timber, poaching, and grazing pigs, amongst many others.