LORD HENRY'S COPSE
In between seeking out hand sanitiser, and booking supermarket deliveries, the fair people of Hove have been taking their regulation lockdown exercise in Three Cornered Copse in greater numbers than ever before. And who can blame them?
It's at this time of year that the copse is looking its best, with the cow parsley reaching shoulder height and the thousands of different shades of green bouncing the sunlight on to the paths threading their way through the forest floor. Our Facebook page has a few more 'likes' each day, as the warm sunshine brings a few new visitors to explore this small strip of land. Some parks around the country have been closed for part of the lockdown, so we're lucky this green strip from Hove Park to Green Ridge is there for our walks.
The woodland paths are baked like concrete, a welcome change after the mud of February and March, a few bluebells are starting to appear, and the bird song seems louder than ever, unencumbered by the background roar of the A27.
We have the 3rd Marquess of Abergavenny to thank for all this. He was Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Gilbert Ralph Nevill, who sold of a great deal of his estate in this area in the 1930's. The copse was bought by Hove Council in 1935, and other parts of West Hove were auctioned off in the later years. The council paid, it is recorded, £1,524 for the copse. In today's terms, based on average inflation, this is around £110,000, which sounds like quite a bargain. The surname of the Marquess gives a clue as to why many of our roads and spaces are named 'Nevill' of course.
Lord Henry Nevill succeeded to the title at the late age of 73, and didn't enjoy it for long. He was killed in a riding accident in 1938 when his horse stumbled over a wire while on a fox hunt in Groombridge, near Tunbridge Wells, at the age of 84. Since his only male heir had pre-deceased him, the title went to his nephew on his death.
The Friends of Three Cornered Copse are somewhat dormant at this time, as are all groups and societies. When we are allowed to re-form, perhaps it will be interesting to look back to this time, when the copse was at its most popular, families taking a walk together, cyclists straining up the hill, and Woodland Drive becoming a quiet country lane again.