We visited this 3,500 acre estate, owned by the Burrell family, in West Sussex, UK in early July (2020) and roamed around it for half a day. We particularly wanted to see the storks and the storks’ nest, but we also came across the wild Exmoor ponies which may be the direct descendants of the ponies you can see in cave paintings of fifteen thousand years ago.
What we particularly didn’t see were the Tamworth pigs, the herd of Old English longhorn cattle, and the red and fallow deer – all of which roam wild and free here. What we also missed, because we lacked the knowledge to appreciate it, as the huge range of biodiversity.
Deer I actually photographed near Amberley, West Sussex in 2015, but similar to the Knepp deer.
In 2001 the family decided to abandon the conventional farming of the estate and embarked on a now world-famous project to let the estate “go wild”. They have introduced some wild animals themselves (deer and Exmoor ponies) and let domestic animals (the pigs and cattle) live without control. What has been interesting is the way that rare wildlife has found this unfarmed haven and thrived here. Extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding here. Isabella Tree’s book about the development of this wild life area is a best seller.
Knepp Wild Range Meat
These free ranging animals are not wasted. You can buy Knepp sausages, steaks and burgers from the free-roaming, pasture-fed, organic cattle, pigs, and red and fallow deer. Meat can also be bought via the Knepp Wild Range Meat website with click and collect, or orders can be couriered to mainland UK.
The estate also offers opportunities for camping and glamping and hosts wedding receptions.
The estate has belonged to the Burrel family for over 200 years and the family still lives here in the castle. The interior was completely burnt out in a fire in 1904 but has been restored.
Address: Knepp Castle, Horsham RH13 8LJ
Phone: 01403 741235
There are 16 miles of public and permissive footpaths, and five viewing platforms built up in the trees. Access is via the car park, charge £5 per day. The car park is situated at Knepp Campsite, New Barn Farm, Swallows Lane, Dial Post, RH13 8NN UK.
There is no charge for admission, and no café or restaurant facilities. However there are two excellent pubs nearby providing food expertly prepared and sourced from local growers. See below.
Nearby pubs for food
The Crown Inn at Dial Post, and The Countryman at Shipley.
The Countryman Inn,
Phone 01403 741383
Worthing Road Dial Post
Horsham West Sussex RH13 8NH
Phone 01403 710902
Wilding – the book about the project
There is a popular book about how a huge increase in varieties of plants and living creatures was achieved here on the Knepp Estate. Julie has read it and strongly recommends it. Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree. Amazon links below.
The estate has four websites and you can start by accessing this one Knepp Estate Website