Tilgate Forest Park
Title: Tilgate Forest Park
Description: Famous for the first remains of Iguanodon to be found, the 400 acres (160 hectares) of Tilgate Forest and it's lakes now provide many recreational activities such as sailing, canoeing and windsurfing, as well providing wintering grounds for ducks and grebes.
Address: Titmus Drive, Tilgate, Crawley, West Sussex
Famous for the first remains of Iguanodon that were found here, the 400 acres (160 hectares) of Tilgate Forest Park was once part of the Tilgate Estate, which covered much of the surrounding area. The large country house that was built on the estate and replaced two earlier buildings was located on the site where the public house and restaurant, "The Inn in the Park" can now be found. The country house was pulled down in 1965 and the original stable block, which has since been converted into private dwellings, is now called Tilgate Mansions.
In 1996, the Walled Garden, which was the country house's cottage garden and also previously used for horticultural research, became a leisure area dedicated to the memory of Alf Pegler, the leader of Crawley Borough Council for 18 years. Shire horses live here, providing dray rides during the summer months, a maze provides some amusement for the children, numerous themed gardens can be found and there is even a café which is open seven days a week.
The nearby Nature Centre is an educational facility that provides information on conservation as well as being one of the country's most important breeding centres for rare and endangered species of wildlife and domesticated animals. Visitors can join adoption schemes and may then have the opportunity to touch and feed some of the animals during special tours, as well as receiving a certificate and their names displayed in the Discovery Room.
During the Iron Age, much of the Sussex area was home to the foundries - the origins of nearby Furnace Green may well stem from this time. It is likely that the lakes in Tilgate Forest Park were constructed to provide water to the iron industry, although today their use is much more leisurely. One of the three lakes was used for floatation trials by Malcolm Campbell before his record-breaking attempt and is now known as Campbell's Lake. Today, the lakes provide many recreational activities such as sailing, canoeing and windsurfing, as well as being wintering grounds for ducks and grebes.