The St Helens Park Preservation Society
This beautiful 104 acre estate is situated in the heart of historic Hastings at the foot of the High Weald. The shelter provided by the ancient gill woodland, the rare lowland meadows and abundant freshwater ponds support a rich and diverse selection of wildlife.
On entering the site’s heavily wooded boundary you’ll feel like you have stepped into a little piece of countryside. It nestles between the gentle slopes of a valley, with the sea a distant view to the south over the rooftops of Hastings. Most of the site was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1988 and is made up of over 53% lowland meadow, the rest being woodland.
The estate has all the characteristics of the nearby High Weald (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), with remnants of ancient woodland, coppice, wooded gills and wild grasslands set amid the rutted landform. The woodlands support fine examples of Ash, Beech, Oak and Yew, some of which may have been saplings in Napoleonic times. In certain areas over 100 different species of plants have been recorded, some are now in decline within the UK.
Over the last 100 years most of the UK’s species-rich wildflower meadows have been lost. Here, these valuable wildlife habitats have flourished due to conservation management and grazing horses. In summer the tall grasses and wildflowers are buzzing with insect life. Common & Sheep’s Sorrel, Cuckooflower and grasses are excellent food sources for caterpillars and butterflies including the Orange-tip and Greenveined White. Meadow plants, the seeds that they produce and the insects that thrive on them, also attract birds and small mammals such as voles and shrews.
There are designated walks that can be taken that embrace these aspects of the park and there is a barbecue area where fund raising events are regularly held. The Society invites you to come along and enjoy this beautiful area of countryside within the heart of town and to support us in our work to preserve it.