One of our favourite locations (if ropey hedges) is at Wittersham, Ed, Gemma and family were on telly the other day, and if you watch very carefully you can see a hedge we worked on (in the background)
It is not often in life that everything you hoped for comes to fruition, but this year’s President v Chairman competition came close:-
It was great to see Roger back cutting, he produced a really quality section of hedge.
This event acts as reminder on how lucky the Society is to have the President and Chairman we have ; thank you Peter and Phil.
While the bulk of the SEHLS team were at Folkington (see other report), two intrepid cutters braved the weather and competed at the Wimpole competition.
A very early start for David Dunk saw him dodging cars abandoned in the snow to meet Gary Moore for the long trip to Cambridgeshire.
The results are in
3rd Alex Howden
2nd Gary Moore
1st Graham Teece
South Of England Class
3rd Jacob Radford
2nd Tim Radford
1st David Dunk
Well done Gary, and super well done to David for beating Tim Radford (Current national champion) on his home turf. The picture below is the winning stake line.
There is still time to sharpen your billhook and enter our annual competition.
We have plenty of hedge (the land owner measures it in miles), and it's pretty straightforward.
If you are a novice and are not sure ring Phil H, Phil P, or Frank W and we'll talk to you about what is involved etc.
Entries close 3rd Feb 2019, and NO LATE ENTRIES will be accepted
What an amazing site Frank found for us, and with chilly dry sunny weather, perfect.
This was the improvers' day (where our trainees get the chance to showcase their skills). We had 9 enter, and the all cut individually (which might have been a bit of a surprise to some), a couple of people from previous years also entered.
The other cutters worked half alone, and the rest in 2's (or more), which was amusing as the real novice cutters were doing more work than many of the experts, such is life.
Most sections were pretty reasonable, but there were patches of rose which irritated everyone as it was a pig to deal with in places. two sections has a LOT Of bramble, and as is now traditional David Dunk had one of them.
The day progressed nicely and we had a few visitors, including the landowner. I was paired with Michael Bentley and we had almost finished our pleaching while David was still pulling rubbish from his section. Mind you by the time it came to laying there was so little left he made fast work out of it, even root laying most of the rose (we did wonder at one point if he was trying to do the entire hedge without a single pleach, be he managed a couple later on)
I picked up a huge amount of tips on hedge building from Michael, which I hope to put into practice.
All to soon it was lunch which was provided by the landowner and family, most of the experienced cutters were on stake and binders, so restarting for them was not an issue, but the novices were still mid hedge.
Everyone finished pretty much at the final (virtual) bell, and there was some pretty good hedge laying from everyone.
There can of course be only one winner for the improvers' trophy and our judges selected Andy Delves
Pictures as always
Flickr has decided to charge for storing pictures, so I have moved everything to google, here is a list of our events, and a link. I have not amended all the old blog entry links!
Competition Colbrans Feb 2014 https://photos.app.goo.gl/FdmvLKMRwZBnSAgC8
Crowbrough TD3 Dec 2015 https://photos.app.goo.gl/eKUff9jooXHvuWnn6
NHLS Display Aug 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/gLjbFAoab1W1HutW9
Crowborough Dec 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/wWgkjeeRYFUynZT29
Tool Sharpening Dec 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/WTSubnAZLeDZ7xM99
Byfleet Nov 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/Fprzg8GrPy6giHH1A
Coppicing Benenden Sept 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/7igaEfHJ5pphDryg9
Laughton Competition Sept 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/jLSRey8aBDYkDUNW8
Chainsaw training Apr 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/y5RZiKnRGaUafWVm6
Annual Competition Scotney Feb 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/c6JWS8JHHqQCtDeS7
Improvers day Scotney Jan 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/b46fTN8yirBJrkAs5
PvC Wittersham Jan 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/WkyYNS5gJ1KqwxFL6
Annual Competition Magham Down 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/7N5K8GhLZZnTK19r9
Fun day Wittersham Mar 2016 https://photos.app.goo.gl/KcmTVwQ5TRaPhjHB6
Scotney TD1 Oct 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/NfFLozRut2T9yQcSA
HPP Coppice Sep 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/pZpPTG7Dh7AbADGm9
Funday Fletching Mar 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/5gqJAANSrEUmjWi57
PvC Magham Down Jan 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/mvkwUKaXhbtxvUpf7
Improver's day Forest Green Jan 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/UrCU7DKdjkpLTCTr5
Laughton Sept 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/8CR1VaFzHHjYCxoK8
HPP Comp Oct 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/zazK2fraJXzQKM7r9
Sandringham Estate Dec 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/5iPCvF4546XX2yoG7
Cissbury Ring, Findon Dec 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/s6kmc8Cvo38GmBav7
Coppicing Turners hill Dec 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/zRAGCdEQCs9SefrA7
Sissinghurst Castle Garden Nov 2017 https://photos.app.goo.gl/HFMF98m5qwDc4ugB6
Dallington (TD2) 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/P8rMxBNZf1TCe5PP8
Fletching PvC competition Feb 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/ebXSB9K9PNix5jzj8
Annual Competition Angmring Park Feb 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/471v1z3DRf1yGm8cA
Two go mad in Devon Feb 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/bBVpufvjXJrWJ3QZ7
HPP Coppice day Sept 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/do3ZoZSscYo72MVW8
Bolney TD1 Oct 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/mXgya3fpLVJzb5zJ6
NHLS: National Comp Cambridge 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/f33i8WeWYuHubTBs9
Magham down TD3 https://photos.app.goo.gl/xRfKX5UPQGEYeaUa8
Dallington (TD2) 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/P8rMxBNZf1TCe5PP8
Great All England Horse Ploughing Match Oct 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/aoUpQV5QBk7d7hFR9
Midland day at Magham Down Mar 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/aZVsN66MUjw8E3vC7
Improvers day, Magham down Jan 2018 https://photos.app.goo.gl/uCvVXtPbz8k4g7Z89
An overcast, but generally dry start to the day, back at Magham Down, site of a number of previous events. What was immediatly noticeable was the regrowth from the old competition hedge, it sat pretty dormant for over a year, which is why we didn't award a regrowth prize. A hot dry summer however did the trick and the thorn was transformed, most sections had regrowth of 3 feet ABOVE the binders, some of which had come from very low in the hedge.
Our regular cutters were all signed in and raring to go, but we only had 5 trainees. We decided to give each trainee a section and a trainer each, and divide the rest of the hedge between the regular cutters. Our trainees trickled in once we got started cutting, so Gary allocated them each to a separate cutter.
Our hedge was a little bigger than we we used to at this site, so many of us who didn't bring a chainsaw were either doning a lot of axe work, or getting a helping hand from the wise cutters.
The hedge went down quite quickly, and right on que Phil Hart arrived with stakes and binders
I was working next to David Dunk, who helped with some chainsaw work, and provided a master class on axe work. He manages to make it look so easy, although with a lot more practice I'm sure we can give him a run for his money.
A little earlier than expected the rain started, so Chris cheered up. Luckily most of us only had to finish the binders and trim up, so we just got wet rather than soaked.
All the sections were very respectable, this years trainees are picking it up well. Hopefully some of them will get the bug and continue cutting with us.
Big thanks ask always to Chris and Frank for arriving very early and putting out the signs, for Gary helping to organise everyone, and Phil for collecting stakes and binders. And of course to everyone who helped coppice; it's a critical part of hedge laying.
Pictures on google
HRH Patron’s Day at Gloucester on 24 November 2018
Once again top cutter Mike Bentley prevailed at the Invitational HRH Patrons day at Home Farm Tetbury, seeing off stiff competition from across the country.
The HRH Invitational event was a chance for a range of age and ability cutters to show off their skills to HRH, who talked to most cutters and presented certificates to the winners of each class.
Prince Charles is a hedgelaying enthusiast and patron of the National Hedgelaying Society. He talked to all cutters and appeared genuinely interested and knowledgeable. He did admit that his hedgelaying attempt did not always look pretty but was he was reassured that in 3 years time the hedge would grow back.
A number of regional styles were undertaken, on a planted hedge of mixed species and sizes, to give all a chance to do some decent cutting.
The event was put on by the National Hedgelaying Society and was in the main slickly done, apart from running out of binders, which were supplemented by some hastily gathered binders from a nearby coppice.
SEHLS were splendidly represented by Mike Bentley, Marcus Broome, Roberto Grilli, Graeme West, David Dunk, Peter Vaughn & Pat Farlaine. , Frank Wright, Matthew Beard, Mandy and Russell Woodham, along with Jarred and Tom from Plumpton College. Plus Franz and Lex from Holland. All got the hedge down in time and turned out some decent looking hedges.
If it is King Bentley, it should also be Saint Hart- Phil did an enormous amount of work both on the day, prior to the event and afterwards. Keeping a herd of novices on track is not easy and Phil did it with his usual professionalism and humour. The day after Phil did the Tool Sharpening course at Plumpton. The Society is so lucky to have a Chairman that leads by example in the promotion of hedgelaying and training.
With a forecast for torrential rain all day we had a really good turn out, so good we had to double up in places as we did not have a huge length of hedge to work with.
After the usual formality of signing on and sorting out who was working where the heavens opened, but much to Chris BC's disappointment it stopped after a few minutes.
The hedge was a mix of different species, and most of the plants were quite small, with just a few more "meaty" ones to work with. The frith pile was thus very small.
David Dunk fulfilled one of his ambitions and managed to pleach and remove the heal on a stem using just a penknife.
Most sections went down pretty quickly, and with nice sunny weather there was time for people to chat without getting soaked. Sadly Bob's truck broke down, but as he was in the cafe he called on the support of another diner and the stakes and binders were delivered in good time.
Because of the slightly sparse material we finished the hedge at 3'6" rather than the usual 4'
The landowner put on a stunning lunch of home reared pig, soup, cheese and bikkies, coffee and beer, good job most people had finished prior to lunch after that lot.
All in all a great day out, I reviewed my pictures and there is even one of Chris smiling
Pictures as always
Hope this works, just switching over to Google photo's as Flickr want to charge us (how very rude)
On a lovely autumnal day , Mike & Pat Parrott and Matthew Beard trimmed the hedge at Lindfield next to the bowls club .
The hedge was planted in 2007 by the Society, to mark the passing of David Marsden, a much loved Lindfield resident, postman and enthusiastic member and committee member of the Society.
It was also the last hedge laid by Ron Mouland. Ron was a stalwart of the society for many years .
It was great to see the established re-growth from heels and pleachers , which no doubt would have pleased David and Ron enormously.
Mike and Pat Parrott have been looking after the hedge for a number of years , but it is getting quite wide and tall , so the help from Matthew was appreciated.
David and Ron are sadly missed , but not forgotten
Who was Ron Mouland?
Ron Mouland and John Blake were both past Presidents of the society, John negotiated with the Lindfield Parish Council for the site of the memorial hedge and Ron laid it when it was too low really, the committee were worried the council might grub it out. The memorial hedge was the last hedge he laid, the way it has grown is testament to his skill.
Ron had been a member since the early days of the society, along with his Dad Fred, a great character and a knowledgeable countryman. Ron was a superb hedgelayer and came to all the society gatherings. He was a unanimous choice of President, he did not hold the post long due to cancer borne with his usual humour and bravery.
BBC report on the National Hedgelaying competition
Introduced by our very own Radio Star Phil Hart
Bushey Down Farm, Droxford in Hampshire on Sunday October 21 st 2018
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
We arrived at Bolney in the warm (really) morning for the first training day of the season, and were immediately impressed with Franks first hedge of the season. We had a mix of plant species and most of the cants were perfect for the trainees, with some more interesting sections further down the field to entertain the more experienced cutters.
Phil sorted out the trainees with a trainer, and we set off.
There was not a huge amount of clearing out to be done, so we were able to launch in with the pleaching pretty quickly.
Everyone was progressing well but we realised that we were missing a vital component, the stakes and binders. Yes a communication breakdown. Many thanks to Phil, Chris and especially Roberto for collecting them from the coppice site.
Just as we started with popping the stakes in lunch was served, and a hearty and very meaty stew was produced.
I was happily finishing off my binders when Alan Ashby arrived and presented me with a "present" which turned out to be a hooky stick, yes he insisted I tried to remove the stake tops traditionally with a billhook not a silky.
Alan demonstrated the technique, which seemed straightforward. And just then Peter Tunks arrived with Phil Hart both keen to "advise" and "help".
Well I have to say that it's a lot harder than you think, when it goes well it's fast and neat, but the bulk of my attempts did not follow this plan (much to the amusement of my audience), and I managed to cut through the top binder a couple of times (funny how easy they were to cut). Personally I think we will have problems with this, especially on tough chestnut stakes.
Everyone managed to finish in pretty good time, and Peter Tunks decided to award a £5 prize for the best stake line, and this was awarded to Mike Mason's team of Andy Delves & Martin Cheesman
Pictures as always
A great day of hedge laying at the ploughing match today, the weather held out (just), and it was a great day for hand tools only
Loads of (brave) people practicing heal removal with the axe/billhook.
It was billed as a chainsaw free day, so sadly Clive was disqualified from the points because he fired up the old saw.
Well done to the winners, sadly the score sheet got drenched, so we only have the final results and positions
A good day’s coppicing was had by a loyal band of SEHLS members recently at Hurstpierpoint.The weather behaved itself until it started raining at lunchtime.
Although the hazel was slightly overstood, with lots of brushwood and cordwood being produced , we managed to extract 380 binders and 490 stakes, which will be used at Bentley Wood Fair( 27-29 September ) and Training Day 1 at Bolney on 13 October.
It was great that newcomers Guy and Jarred could attend- they stuck to the task well which will help them at TD1.
Given that over the season we will need between 2500-3000 each of stakes and binders for SEHLS events in the 2018/19 season, we still have a lot of material to gather. Although stakes and binders do grown on trees , they need a lot of effort to cut down , process and transport to where they are used.
Thanks must go to all those who attended:-Phil H, Frank, CBC,John,Bob, Peter,Rob, Matthew,Terry,Mike,Guy ,Jarred + 1 other
Hopefully more members will make the next coppicing event at Turners Hill on 24 November.
The team have been out already this year at Laughton and West Grinstead.
I don't have a match report for either, but I have the score sheet from Laughton (thanks David) and some pictures from West Grinstead (thanks Matthew).