Welcome to the Blog of Cutler´s Wood, an Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland in the Kent North Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Cutler´s is 42 hectares (ca. 103 acres) of native broadleaf woodland managed primarily as wildlife and flora habitat but also to provide some timber from coppice rotation which is used for traditional fencing and woodfuel. Adjacent to Cutler´s Wood is Cutler´s Farm, made up of the farmyard with barns and 6 hectares (ca. 15 acres) of pasture land, which presently is used for sheep grazing.

Bordering onto the Forestry Commission´s Kings Wood to the south west, privately owned Stanner´s Wood to the north west, The Woodland Trust´s Park Wood to the north and the privately owned Ridge Wood and Felborough Wood to the east, this area makes up over 2000 acres of connected woodland and one of the largest woodlands in the South East of England. This whole area was once part of a royal hunting forest for deer and boar.

Edward Hasted´s map of Cutler´s area published 1798 but showing the area apparently around 1778. Cutler´s Farm seems not to have existed yet.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


We have now completed the fencing around the top field at Cutler´s Farm and ewes have been put out to graze the pasture. The sheep flock belongs to our neighbours Rachel and Jim Stanford and are a cross between Suffolk, Mule and Texel sheep. This field has not been grazed for quite a number of years and would have slowly returned to scrub without grazing or regular mowing.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Fairies sighted at Cutler´s Wood !!!

Here are some pictures from a Ella-Louise´s birthday Fairy Walk. If anybody reading this would like to have their own Fairy Walk (or any other kids woodland activity) at Cutler´s Wood please contact us for more details.

Photography by Carol Fulton, Canterbury, 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Pictures of Autumn

Walking through Cutler´s Wood you find many holes, craters, ditches and embankments, the explanations for which are not always obvious. Some are so called dene holes, although what they actually were for, nobody can really say. Some will be chalk quarries or pits, others perhaps for extracting the flint nodules from the clay. Some may be bomb or even V1 flying bomb craters from WWII. Some 8000 V1 flying bombs aimed at London, fell sort of target and crashed into Kent. A USAF Grumman Avenger fighter bomber also crashed into Cutler´s Wood during WWII, the pilot of which escaped by bailing out. Quite a bit of the Battle of Britain took place in the skies above this part of Kent.  
There are ditches and embankments, which may mark boundaries such as parish boundaries or the very boundary of the wood itself, this especially conspicuous on the western edge of Fagg´s Wood. Other bank and ditch systems may be much older, perhaps the remains of enclosures for animals or settlements. The ditch would nearly always be on the outside and the bank on the inside and would be designed to protect whatever was in the enclosure or to stop it escaping into the woodland. 
One form of hole in the ground which is easier to identify is a saw pit, of which there are a number in Cutler´s Wood. Nearly always at the bottom of a slope (you wouldn´t want to roll sawlogs uphill, would you?) and next to a track for ease of extraction of the saw planks, they are longer than wide and the spoil from the pit will be still visible piled next to the pit. Originally they would have been deep enough for one sawyer to be in the pit sawing upwards and another sawyer would be on the plank sawing downwards. The bottom picture of the above series of photographs shows the remains of a sawpit alongside a track near Cutler´s Farm.  

Photography by Carol Fulton, Canterbury,  

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Woodsman

Historically Cutler´s always had a woodsman present to work in the woods and he would inevitably know every corner of the woods and what went on there through the seasons and over the years. If you read the excerpt from Somerset de Chair´s book "Die? I thought I´d laugh" at the bottom of this blog, the woodsman Black and his family obviously played an important role at Cutler´s in the past. In the 1970´s, 1980´s and 1990´s Bob Ward from Molash was the woodsman who worked for the then owner, Ralph Reed from Chilham. Bob Ward died in 2002 and since then there has been no woodsman present at Cutler´s.
I am therfore very pleased to say that, from September 2011 onwards, Cutler´s will once again have a woodsman (and family) present in the form of Martin and Katey Hugi. Martin and Katey have being working out of an estate in Hertfordshire until recently and have built up a company called Eco Tree Care ( The estate in Hertfordshire has now been sold and they have had to move on. Martin and Katey share my views on how the future of Cutler´s can be developed in an ecologically sustainable way, whilst still realizing the history and background of Cutler´s and the surrounding area.
They both bring with them the knowledge and experience as well as the machinery and equipment to work the woods and help develop such things as the woodfuel market and the amenity and activity aspects. Martin is also a tree surgeon and Katey an expert in orchards. Their website mentioned above is a mine of information and can be recommended.    

Saturday, 11 June 2011


Last year I had the idea of looking for a furniture designer who could produce exceptional pieces of furniture using timber from Cutler´s Wood. These pieces should not be anonymous items from anonymous timber from an anonymous forest somewhere, which would end up being thrown away in a few years, like so much of what is on the market today. Much more so the piece should be an extention of the very tree itself, a continuation of the life of the tree into the future long after the tree itself had actually been felled. We would document the piece, in photographs, from the tree standing in the woods, through the felling process, on into the manufacturing of the item. The people involved would be documented, the woodsmen felling the tree, the transportation of the stem to the yard, the furniture maker actually turning the stem into the piece of furniture through the various phases. The documentation should serve to show coming generations how the piece came about, as the piece hopefully would live on long after the people involved were gone.
The documentation would be the story, the story of the woods, the tree, the people and the piece of furniture as the end product.
It appeared to me that in our Consumption led times we often know little of the items we are actually consuming, items bought are anonymous, we buy and consume with mostly no thought of where it came from or what the original material was, or how it came to end up on our plate or in our homes. The McDonalds syndrome perhaps? Hamburgers come from there don´t they? What have pigs or cows got to do with it all? How can respect be shown for the life that went to make the end product if we have no connection with its past? Our ancestors probably didn´t have this problem, they were often involved in all parts of the making of what they consumed, perhaps through that they were able to accept the natural cycles of life and death better than we can.

I approached Alun Heslop of Chaircreative ( with my ideas and Alun was immediately enthusiastic and agreed to design and manufacture a series of pieces. Alun has made some fantastic items of furniture in the past and his designer talent seemingly knows no bounds.

In February I wanted to fell some larger stems of sweet chestnut in order to ascertain the internal quality of the timber. Alun came along that day and we selected stems which most people would not have been interested in, stems with natural curves and bends, for the furniture should not have sharp corners or straight edges, they were to be something special, perhaps a touch of Gaudi or Dali.
Alun recently started work on the pieces by cleaving some stems before them being taken to his workshops.

The story has started - to be continued.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Easter 2011 at Cutler´s

Easter 2011 at Cutler´s turned out to be almost like high summer; temperatures were up to 26 degrees C for a few days, until an easterly wind brought lower temperatures but it stayed dry and rain was nowhere to be seen. The ground is now so dry that our woodland tracks are like concrete. In all of this I was attempting to plant 200 Nordmann Firs, as future Christmas trees. Luckily, they were rooted in Jiffy bags and not bare rooted. The ground in the paddock, where we were planting was so hard that we had to call Alex in with his tractor and rotovator to break up the top 25cm of earth. We watered the plants in well but I can only now hope that rain appears soon.

The warm weather had also brought the adders out to bask in the sun. One young adder, about 1 year old got ran over in our farmyard by someone and while watering in the Christmas trees another, this time fully adult adder appeared about 1 metre in front of me. After I stood up straight, he seemed to have second thoughts about me and disappeared into the long grass under a fence. We almost stepped on a third snake the next day in the woods.
The bluebells were in full bloom over Easter and the woods were carpeted by a sheet of blue. The area next to the A252, which we cut back earlier this year for logs, was particularly impressive and consequently was a big draw for people passing by car, many of whom stopped to walk through the area and take photographs.

There have been a couple of cases of poachers shooting deer in Cutler´s recently. In both cases the deer was left by the poacher - I can´t quite work out the draw of shooting deer only to leave the carcasses to the foxes. Anyway, any poachers which are caught will be prosecuted and have their weapons confiscated and destroyed.

We also managed a trip over to Wilderness Wood in East Sussex to meet Chris Yarrow who has been converting sweet chestnut coppice to high forest for some time now. The high forest will then be managed in future as continuous cover forestry. This is something that I am keen to follow at Cutler´s, as the market for coppiced sweet chestnut, other than for logs, is basically worth almost nothing. Sweet chestnut grows quite well at Cutler´s and we have discovered that the market for well grown sweet chestnut timber is specialized but can be very profitable, as not that much exists. Apart from local interest, there is a certain amount of interest from continental European markets for British sweet chestnut timber, as in the UK we have not had the same incidences of disease that have occured in warmer climatic zones. Anyway, to come back to Wilderness Wood, it is now run by Chris´s daughter Joanna Yarrow and it is an excellent example of what a multi-functional woodland can be. They get around 30,000 paying visitors per year for all manner of activities; childrens birthdays in the woods, barbeques, Christmas trees, walks and many other things. It took Chris 30 years to build up the business of Wilderness Wood but it is now a model of what can be done with enough initiative.

Apart from the above photos, please click on the "Images of Easter 2011" page in the right hand column to see more pictures.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Plastic, Metal & Stone

After the storm of 1987, Cutler´s was heavily replanted with ash, black walnut and wild cherry. Plastic tree shelters were used to protect these trees against deer browsing and rabbit / grey squirrel damage. These tree shelters were meant to biodegrade with time but unfortunately they have steadfastly refused to do just this. The consequence of this is that we now, over twenty years later, are faced with the cleaning up of these seemingly many thousands of shelters, both from the ground, if they split and fell off as they were supposed to, or worse still, off the tree if still attached to the stem of the tree. In the case of those still attached to the stems, they are a collection point for water, which rots the bark, or all manner of other things which fall down the tube - we even found a dead squirrel stuck down one shelter. The clean up has until now taken all winter and we are still nowhere near finished. We think it may take years still to eventually clear up last shelter. Perhaps the moral of the story here is "Never believe what´s on the label".

Some time ago I came across a number of numbered corrugated metal sheets and pieces of roofing felt laid out on the ground in a remote part of Cutler´s. I assumed these to be reptile shelters i.e. places where slow worms, lizards and adders would crawl (slither?) under if disturbed. After a little research and e-mailing various reptilely people, I found out that these were part of a reptile survey being carried out by Kent University which has been ongoing for the last four years. They had got a little lost, as they thought they were on the Forestry Commission land of King´s Wood but I think if I can help the survey in any way then I will and the shelters can stay where they are. If you do come across these shelters, please do not disturb them or turn them over as this would disturb the inhabitants.

It was while in the immediate area of these reptile shelters, that I recently came across a somewhat mysterious stone. The stone is under some yew trees in the corner of the boundary of Cutler´s Wood and is engraved with the letters "CH". The back of the stone has three flat surfaces and on the top front is a small hollow as shown on the photograph. I have found another worked stone in Cutler´s at a circle of flint stones affectionately known by myself as the Druid´s Circle. What the origins of this stone are and to what (or to whom) "CH" refers is a complete mystery. If anyone has any ideas, I´d be happy to hear them.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Felling in February

We have been felling trees in several areas of Cutler´s during the last few weeks. Two acres of mixed woodland have been felled for the firewood market, we have felled and brought back into rotation 1 acre of chestnut coppice with some good post and rail fencing material as a result and we have felled 15 stems of older chestnut which were stored on around 35 years ago. All the older stems were shake free with some premium quality resulting which we hope will go for veneer and the furniture industry. There has been some interest in this higher quality material for export to France and Italy, where historically chestnut has been used more than in the British market.
Despite the sometimes awful weather of the last few weeks, Spring is on its way, with the bluebells 8-9 cms out of the ground.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Cutler´s Farm and Pasture Land

We have recently aquired Cutler´s Farmyard and a further 6 hectares (15 acres) of pasture land adjacent to Cutler´s Wood. At the moment the farmyard has two open sided barns, which we will use for storing and air drying timber from the woodland. The pasture land has not been grazed for several years and is, as such, slowly degenerating into scrub land. We hope, together with some farm neighbours, to return this land to semi-improved pasture for sheep grazing.