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History of Lake Wood

Lake Wood became part of the Rocks Estate, owned by the Streatfeild family, in 1789 and stayed with the family until it was acquired by the Woodland Trust in 1993.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the southern part of the site was landscaped in the style of Capability Brown. An existing pond was enlarged by the building of an earth dam which created a three acre spring-fed lake. Carriage drives were put through the site including a tunnel under Rocks Road and a route across the dam. Many exotic and native trees and shrubs were planted, some of which still survive as large specimen trees.

Dramatic sandstone

The site already benefited from the dramatic sandstone outcrops along the sides of the valley that runs east/west across the site. Various features were carved out of these outcrops including tunnels and steps; and a boathouse and a sandstone wall were built on the boundary along Rocks Road. Rides suitable for use by horse and carriage were also put through the wood. The landscaping along with the planting of exotic trees and shrubs was designed to create an extension of 'the Gardens and Pleasure Grounds of Rocks House' and provide 'picturesque and romantic walks', a fashion of the time pioneered by Capability Brown.

The storm of 1987 seriously damaged the site, blowing down many of the large specimen trees and approximately 100 oak standards, allowing the spread of the invasive rhododendron ponticum. Since acquiring the site the Woodland Trust has cleared much of the rhododendron, with a lot of the work carried out by volunteer work parties. The clearance has revealed most of the Cretaceous Ardingly sandstone outcrops within the wood which are of geological interest, as well as the lower plants (mosses, lichens, ferns) that grow on them.