an intriguing Houghton Forest landmark

1750 map SlindonI want the landscape of Northwood to have a dialogue with the sculpture. You can influence my creative path through your own interpretations; opening channels of enquiry that might stick in the oddest of ways.

What strikes me is quite how central the place was, several hundred years ago. In 1750 Stane Street (left) was still mapped as a thoroughfare passing right by. By 1783, the ‘main’ route passed down through Coldharbour to Sutton, and the present South Downs Way saw users exploiting the easier-going chalk land back towards Whiteways, rather than the clay at the bottom of the Downs.

Langham 1778

Langham Fields 1806An old name – lost in time. Abraham’s Walls – where Dale Park now stands. Then an odd landscape form emerged on a map. It lies dormant on the modern day Ordnance Survey Landranger, yet obvious when you see what once was. Here it appears in 1778 and then 1806, before being lost to encroaching woodland.

Who was Langham – could it have been the 14th century Archbishop once at Slindon Palace? What was the field’s purpose? A social transition from the chasing of deer to the racing of horses? An ancient enclosure for what? A former extra-parochial land to Bury, why did its form and function disappear? Evocative suggestions remain, along with some ancient beeches and changes in ground level. Perhaps someone will remember a story told by a village elder.

We must all scrutinise our rich, common ground and celebrate it.

One thought on “an intriguing Houghton Forest landmark

  1. Interesting latest post. What is now Slindon House (currently used as a school) was a palace for the archbishops of Canterbury. Prior to Simon (de) Langham’s tenure, Stephen Langton was here in the early 13th Century – a key figure in creating the Magna Carta (his is the first signature on it).

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