24 March 2016
Renovation of Firle Park Stew Ponds
The Firle Estate was fortunate to obtain a grant covering a large part of the costs of the complete renovation to the 19th Century Stew Ponds in Firle Park in East Sussex. The stew ponds are fed from a natural channel of water filtered through the chalk of the South Downs and actually passes underneath the 15th Century mansion at the top of the park. It goes on to form the Long Pond and feed the greengage trees and fruits in the extensive kitchen garden that serves the main house. The water emerges out of the garden and alongside a quaint village road into the park.
A three hundred metre Victorian brick culvert funnels the water underground to the Stew Ponds and Decoy ponds which are still used store and catch brown and rainbow trout. There are photographs owned by the family depicting an open water channel and wooden bridge that must been necessary to access the house from the main drive through the park before this system built by the Victorian Gages. The renovation work involved the removal of over 7500 cubic metres of silt and mud that had been clogging the five ponds for decades. The work started over three years ago and continues in the Decoy pond to this day.
The contractors were astonished to see the depth of 19th century engineering involved when they discovered large heavy plugs in each of the five stew ponds leading to further drainage channels underneath. The restoration work has breathed new life into the park and makes a beautiful feature reflecting the often spectacular sunsets in this region of the South Downs. It is a popular spot for weddings and private parties in the summer and is often used for part of a combined clay-shooting and fly-fishing adventure package which includes lunch at Firle Place. See the Clay Shooting page for more details.