Normandy Pond

Normandy Pond is a 105yd long by 35yd wide stretch of open, woodland water giving an air of tranquility and seclusion from everyday life and yet is within a stone’s throw of the centre of the community. It isΒ  wildlife sanctuary on the doorstep of the village.

Historically, it had few owners; namely The Crown, noblemen and finally the Normandy Parish Council. Normandy Common was conveyed to the Crown (in this instance, The War Department) in 1876 as being part of the Manor of Cleygate. The conveyance did not, however, include the pond. This was purchased somewhat later in 1901 by the War Department from Lord Pirbright, then residing at Henley Park Mansion, which he was, at the time, renting from the Halsey family – its rightful owners. In 1953 the Ash and Normandy Parish Council purchased the greater part of the Common, including the pond, from the War Department in order to develop the land for recreational purposes. A couple of years later Normandy became a Parish in its own right and in 1989 purchased the remainder of the common from the Ministry of Defence.

The profile of the original pond, with its distinctive head and tail drainage channels, was probably retained until the end of the nineteenth century. The map of 1871 illustrates the familiar outline, but successive surveys between 1916 and today omit the wispy head and tail thus showing the pond isolated and land-locked

Late in 1985, Ann Adey was shown a photograph by her seventy-five year old neighbour – Miss Gladys Marshall. The photograph, dated 1908, was of Gladys and a friend sitting by the Normandy Pond, in what was obviously a normal, tranquil, rural scene of the time.

Ann was determined that Normandy should again enjoy the amenities of that pond in its fine woodland setting. Accordingly, she approached the Normandy Parish Council in March of 1986 with an offer to undertake a feasibility study for the restoration of the pond. The offer was readily accepted. Her investigations alone took six months,

A vote was taken if Normandy people wanted the pond restored with 100% to go ahead! A Mr Albert Cunningham new to the village offered to head the work force having had past experience in Cornwall on various projects. He asked for 6 people to join him with a positive result. A Mr John Squire volunteered to be treasurer, finally Ann Adey volunteered to be chairperson. Restoration of the pond was indeed launched!

During the start of the clearance work on the pond, volunteers probed and located under about nine inches of silt, not only the ancient path but the buried stones of the old ford or splash as some would prefer to term it. Where the path met the stream it was discovered that the stream had in fact diverted itself some twelve feet and thus burying completely the stones of the ford. The workers re-diverted the stream back to its original course and the beautiful stones were uncovered so that once again the cool, clean, clear water of the stream courses over the ancient stones. Legend has it that the stones came originally from Chertsey Abbey and who would wish to disagree with that! A firm surface was also found measuring axil width (for a cart) under a foot of mud, silt, and undergrowth.

The restoration work was completed and on the 27th November 1990, Ann Adey accepted on behalf of the Normandy Pond Project the framed award of “Pondwatch Community Wildlife Pond of the Year”

In 1996 Normandy Pond was selected by the Nature Conservation Group and awarded a SNCI (Site of Nature Conservation Importance)

Please come and visit Normandy Pond, it is looking really good!

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