Brandy Hole Copse, local nature reserve
Brandy Hole Copse lies to the north-west of Chichester City's built-up area. It is an area of managed woodland comprising mainly of Sweet Chestnut, which until recently, had been coppiced continuously since the 18th Century. It is 6.5 hectares in total and includes three small ponds with dipping/viewing platforms. The area was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2001 to help protect and enhance its diverse flora and fauna, which includes a sea of bluebells every spring and numerous rare and fascinating species throughout the year.
Within the Copse there are also two Iron Age boundaries known as Chichester Entrenchments which also contain some of the few remaining in-situ examples of WWII defensive structures. The Copse is crossed by and can be accessed from the former Chichester-Midhurst railway line; "Centurion Way".
The Friends of Brandy Hole Copse (FBHC) have been key players in the management of the copse for many years. Throughout the year, volunteers from the group conduct guided walks, pond dipping sessions and nature trails. The Crumblies Conservation Volunteers also contribute to the management of the copse at key times of the year.
The revised Brandy Hole Copse Management Plan 2008-2013 can now be downloaded from the link on the right of this page. The Plan was created by the Brandy Hole Copse Management Board and details further information about the history, content and future plans for the copse. Approximately an acre of the Sweet Chestnut was coppiced in February 2008 to open up a large area of ground to the light. Although dramatic at first, the stumps quickly re-grow within a year or two. Brandy Hole Copse wins a Silver Award in the South East in Bloom Competition (Country Park Category).
February 2011 - The ancient art of coppicing is being brought back to Brandy Hole Copse this week.
Coppicing is a traditional type of woodland management that involves cutting the trees back to stumps, which quickly regenerate therefore producing a regular crop of wood. A section of the copse was last coppiced in 2009 and another section will be coppiced during February.
Coppicing, or cutting back the trees, enhances the wildlife in the copse by opening up the canopy. It lets in more light and allows new plants to establish on the woodland floor. These plants attract insects, birds and mammals to the area and the result is that the habitat in the copse is very different to a mature woodland, with its own distinctive wildlife. This habitat can only continue to thrive if coppicing is maintained.
The Council has appointed a local firm to undertake the next round of coppicing at Brandy Hole Copse. The contractor has experience of woodland management, and will begin the work at Brandy Hole Copse on the 1st February to ensure that it is completed by the bird nesting season.
Autumn 2009 – The Friends of Brandy Hole Copse in partnership with Chichester Natural History Society have arranged a new series of Weekend Work Parties. Why not join in and learn about different conservation techniques and enjoy a weekend in the Copse? For further details contact the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse.
Spring 2009 – Download a Tree Trail leaflet from the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse website and explore the Copse following the fun tree trail.
April 2009 – An area of Sweet Chestnut within the Copse was coppiced in April 2008 to open up a large area of ground to the light. This is the second compartment to be coppiced as part of the re-starting of a traditional coppice cycle. Although dramatic at first, the stumps quickly re-grow within a year or two.
September 2008 – Brandy Hole Copse wins a Silver Award in the South East in Bloom Competition (Country Park Category)