Interesting facts about Ashdown Park Hotel
1. Ashdown Forest provided the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s books Winnie the Pooh. He used his son Christopher Robin as the basis of the main character and his son’s toys for the other characters. A.A. Milne was a pacifist but nonetheless volunteered to serve in WWI. He ended up at the Battle of the Somme where the scale of the killing left him with an overly nostalgic view of childhood. Upon returning, the forest provided him with the peace of mind he needed to create his stories.
2. The history of Ashdown forest is extensive with archaeological finds going back as far as 50,000 years. Before the Norman invasion of 1066 the forest was impenetrable and known to the Saxons as Andredas Weald. William the Conqueror was the first to use it as a hunting estate in the 11th century and this tradition continued up until the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century. It wasn’t until the reign of Charles II that serious attempts were made to commercialise the forests. Yet despite man’s best efforts, there remains a great deal of wildlife in the forest including a wide diverse range of birds and large deer populations.
3. The original manor house at Ashdown was erected in 1815 as the home of General Sir Thomas Bradford and later Rear Admiral the Honourable Jacob Henriker. Both men had had very impressive military careers, no mean feat in the days of the all-conquering British Empire. Jacob had won his spurs in 1804 when he defeated a flotilla of French ships despite being outnumbered and outgunned. General Thomas served with great distinction in the Peninsular Campaigns under the Duke of Wellington but was badly wounded and evacuated to Britain in 1813. He missed the Battle of Waterloo on account of his injuries, a battle in which his brother died. After the death of Thomas Charles Thompson in 1881 the house passed back into military hands with his grandson, Captain C.K.T. Fisher, who was also well-known as a water-colourist. Tragically, Captain Fisher was killed in the Great War of 1914-18 and with that ended the families association with the house. Captain Fisher did however possess his Grandfather’s pious nature, leaving the house to Belgian officers recovering from war injuries.