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In our latest ‘People of Parham’ feature we speak to Parham’s Forester, Jim Mitchell. Following in the footsteps of his Father and Grandfather who both also worked on the Estate, Jim takes care of Parham’s parkland and forest. There is no such thing as an average day for Jim who doesn’t see his work here as a job.
“I see to the maintenance of the woods and parkland, and this includes everything outside the House and Gardens. Parham is a special estate not only because of its location, with the backdrop of the Downs, but because of all the wildlife that resides in the ancient parkland. Parham’s parkland is home to a number of veteran oak trees that are estimated to be around 500 years old. It is because of their presence, and that of the rare insects, lichens and birds, that it is so important to preserve the parkland and limit the access to visitors.
The estate is also renowned for its herd of fallow deer that were first recorded in 1628. The herd has a distinctive dark brown coat, which they have retained all these years. The herd is generally self-sustaining, unless it is hard winter, and then I will feed them. I also check the fencing once a fortnight to make sure it is secure.
There is no such thing as an average day. During the winter months, I tend to do more forestry work; this includes clearing windfalls and cutting trees. When the House and Gardens are open, I undertake a lot of maintenance work around the entrance, keeping verges and ditches tidy.
I have worked at Parham for 53 years, but was born on the estate so have known the Park all my life. Both my Father and Grandfather worked on the estate too. My Grandfather joined in 1932 as second cowman, while my Father worked in the woodland for 50 years, before ending up as Head Sawyer and running the Sawmill.
The open air and nature is what I enjoy most. It’s a way of life more than a job.”
Whilst the park is Jim’s pride and passion, the cricket pitch at Parham has to be his favourite pastime. Having played for the Parham team for years, Jim loves the view from the pitch through the valley and Downs. Historically, Parham’s cricket team was made up of the staff and residents from Storrington, but now some of its players come from a little further afield. To this day, the Parham team plays on various days during the summertime.