The Parham Estate today comprises 875 acres (354 ha), including an historic deer park Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with veteran oak trees, rare insects and lichens, the Park is one of the few release sites for native Field Crickets in England. It is also noted for its woodland birds and breeding herons. In order to protect this important environment it only has limited access to visitors.
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Guided Walks in the Park
Themed, guided walks are available free on some Sundays and event days during the open season. Click here for further details.
The first records of the fallow deer herd date back to 1628. In 1800 the herd numbered 800 but now numbers about 350 animals. The herd is managed to maintain its distinctive dark brown coat.
The Parham Fallow Deer Herd
To the south west of the House lies the church of St. Peter. Although medieval in origin, it was rebuilt substantially in the early 19th century and contains a fireplace in the family pew. The church was once part of the deserted village of Parham. Its inhabitants were moved to nearby Rackham in 1778-9. There is an ongoing archaeological investigation into the possible site of the village by Worthing Archaeological Society.
The dovecote dates from the 18th century. The doves or pigeons (squabs) would have provided the Parham household with fresh meat during the winter months. The circular walls of the dovecote are lined with small square brick nesting boxes.
The Park contains many ancient, mature and veteran trees. The term veteran indicates a tree which contains significant quantities of dead wood or decaying limbs. Several oak trees are over 500 years old and rare lichens flourish on the bark. A distinctive feature of the Park is the abundant mistletoe growing high up in the lime trees.
Ageing and damaged trees are allowed to decay naturally. If they have to be felled for safety reasons, the wood is stacked by the stump to provide a habitat for invertebrates and fungi.
Parham suffered badly during the Great Storm in 1987. A planting programme is being carried out to provide a new generation of oaks.
The Site of Special Scientific Interest
The area of parkland designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and registered Grade II* in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens, comprises about 340 acres (137 ha) and includes the deer park. The particular significance of Parham lies in the assemblage of veteran trees which provide an important habitat for beetles and one of the richest lichen floras in South East England.