Stanmer Park is a special place with a unique collection of trees.
Right on the fringe of the city it is Brighton’s nearest countryside with 500 hectares of rolling Downland country set in the South Downs National Park. It is home to the Great Wood planted in the 18th and 19th century which now dominates the northeast Brighton skyline. Not only do they look magnificent but these trees also help combat climate change by capturing and storing carbon which contributes to cleaner air in our city.
There are thousands of trees including a remarkable collection of veteran and ancient trees, so called because of their:
- historical interest
- habitat value
Recent mapping has discovered approximately 70 veteran trees and a handful of older ancient trees with another 100 developing trees which in time will become veterans of the future. The hollow trunked ancient Yew in the church cemetery almost certainly ranks as Brighton’s oldest tree. No one is certain of its age, but it is estimated to be well over 500 years old. An ancient tree is so old it has passed beyond maturity into its ancient phase, whereas a veteran tree can be any age but has features of ancientness. Ancient trees are all veterans, but not all veterans are ancient.
The small selection of trees shown here are among Stanmer’s best examples of the different varieties of trees in the Park. There's an avenue of veteran Beech trees planted 300 years ago lining a track once used as an original carriage drive through Stanmer Great Wood. And there are many champion trees which, because of their height and/or girth, are listed in a national database of the most notable trees in the UK. The Park’s apple orchards under the care of the Stanmer Permaculture Trust are recognised as a National Collection because of the variety and rarity of apples grown there. Apples like Yorkshire Greening and The Crawley Beauty, that you seldom or never see in the shops, all grow here.
Over the years, Stanmer Park has undergone huge changes. The 1987 Great Storm caused extensive damage especially among the Beech trees. Sadly, in recent times hundreds of Ash trees have died and been felled for safety after becoming infected with the Ash dieback fungus. Elms too have been ravaged by Dutch elm disease.
With the aid of the accompanying tree trail app you will be able to go on a kind of treasure hunt, seeking out these special trees and their exact locations. The app also provides web links to help you find out more about each of the trees. They trees are the city’s heritage and deserve to be better known so that they can be celebrated, enjoyed and admired.