Well third time lucky, after two aborted attempts to attend this show, SEHLS finally made it.
We were contacted early in 2018, to see if SEHLS wished to attend the event this year. With a hard
track all the way to a live hedge which was just over 30 mtrs long, a nice size and good condition, it
was an easy decision to make.
Next step was to start the planning for the event and get some assistance with laying the hedge.
The arrangements for the weekend were made, sorted out at the Bentley Wood Fair, and concluded
in the Hare & Hounds pub in Cowfold after Training Day 1.
The plan was for John, Frank and myself to do some hedge laying on the Saturday so that when the
visitors turned up on Sunday, they could see what a finished hedge would look like. Unfortunately
Frank’s van decided to break down on route so it left John and me to lay the first section of hedge in
the bright and warm October sunshine.
Our start was delayed as the farmer was having his first shoot of the season and the first drive was in
the neighbouring field, so we were able to admire the surrounding countryside in the autumn
By late afternoon, John and I had a section of the hedge down, staked and bound, so we decided
that it was a good time to leave.
Sunday was an early start and the previous day’s warmth meant that it was a foggy drive to the site;
thankfully I was able to give Frank a lift to the ploughing match, so we were back to full strength.
With the tables set up with all the paperwork and display material, and a welcome cuppa drunk, the
hedge was divided. John and I carried on from where we had left off on Saturday, Frank took the
next cant the other side of the large tree in the middle, then Mike took the next one, and Gywn &
Hans the last one. The hedge was just over 30mtrs in length so none of the cants was too long,
which was deliberate so that we would have the time to talk to visitors and show them what we
However, my wife Jo was doing a sterling job manning the table and explaining to the public what
hedge laying was all about, I guess her knowledge must have been gleaned from listening to me go
on about it. This was handy as it freed up Roger to help Gywn and Hans with their section of hedge
which was all hazel.
We had hardly got started and a couple of visiting hedge layers from Dorset turned up, it was good
to see Russell & Mandy Woodman, and thanks for their help on the day.
With such lovely weather, the crowds turned up; our hedge was close to the main arena and
catering wagons. This combined with quite a few announcements on the PA about the hedge laying
meant that most of the day there was a good crowd of people watching us working in the sun.
By lunchtime most of the hedge was down and after some refreshment it was the staking and
binding to do and tidying up; by mid-afternoon the hedge was finished.
The comments we received from the public were all positive, saying how nice it was see a real craft,
what a work of art it was and what a good job we had done, and the organisers seemed happy with
what we had done.
Hopefully we will have an invite back for 2019.
Thankyou to John French, Frank Wright, Mike Mason, Roger Ferrand, Gywn Alford, Jo Burchell Collins and Hans Taylor for their help over the weekend.
Pictures as always
Chris Burchell Collins