The Lakes and the Iron Industry
One of the striking features of Tilgate Park is its lakes. These are thought to have been constructed in the early 17th century for the iron industry. Indeed, Silt Lake as its name implies was probably used to allow silt to settle out so that only pure water passed into Tilgate Lake.
The Sussex Weald was the centre of the Iron Industry as it contained rich deposits of iron ore, and timber for fuel was readily available and typical mine pits can still be seen at the Hawth in Southgate, formally part of the Tilgate Estate.
The History of Tilgate Estate
Tilgate Park was once home to a sprawling country estate and mansion known as the Tilgate Estate. Follow the link to find out more about the estate .
Tilgate Park through the 1960s, 70s and 80s
Follow the link to find out about Tilgate Park from the 60s through to the 80s .
The Walled Garden
The Walled Garden is one of the remaining features of the Tilgate Estate and the importance of this estate is shown by the large size of the garden, of which the original walls are still in place. Find out about the History of the Walled Garden .
Tilgate Park Today
Today Tilgate Park is a multi-award winning public amenity that is owned and managed by Crawley Borough Council, and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The Nature Centre has gone from strength to strength, becoming a ‘refuge for the rare’ for some of the world’s most endangered species. As well as this there is a brand new £80,000 play area, a superb and very well used facility. The Walled Garden is also home to some magnificent show gardens, a Maze and a café for all the family to enjoy.
Biodiversity at Tilgate Park
Tilgate Park and Golf Course together constitute the largest block of wildlife habitat in Crawley. They hold a variety of habitats, each with their own special flora and fauna:
Broad-leaved woodland, with trees such as oak and birch, is important for birds like woodpeckers (all three British species occur in the park), wildflowers, fungi and invertebrates. If you visit quiet areas, particularly the woods around the golf course, you can often see Roe deer.
Heathland is a priority habitat in the Park. This is open land with shrubs such as wild heather and gorse. It supports specialised, and often rare, invertebrates, reptiles and birds.
Lakes and ponds provide breeding sites for frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies and damselflies. The lakes attract water-birds such as ducks, swans, moorhens, coots and grebes. Stanford Brook which flows along the eastern edge of the golf course harbours wild brown trout, bullheads and lampreys.