In 1724 Daniel Defoe on a journey to Lewes, commented. 'I came there through the deepest, dirtiest, but in many ways the richest and most profitable country in all that part of England. The timber I saw here was prodigious as well in quantity as in bigness'.
Timber of all sorts was noted, particularly oaks, and learned geological works referred to the Weald clay as 'oak tree ￼clay'.
William Cobbett had plenty to say on the Weald and its woods: '... this Weald is a bed of clay in which nothing grows well but oak trees.'
'I descended into a country where strictly speaking only three things grow well, grass, wheat and oak trees ... all across the Weald (the strong stiff clays) the corn looks very well ... in the Weald of Sussex; stiff lands, small fields, broad hedgerows and invariably thickly planted with fine growing oak trees ... here the oak grows finer than in any part of England. The trees are more spiral in their form. They grow much faster than upon any other land'.
William Cobbett, Rural Rides, 1830. Rural Rides is the book for which the English journalist, agriculturist and political reformer William Cobbett is best known.
Quote found in Scarpfoot Parish: Plumpton 1830-1880 by Prof. Brian Short, University of Sussex, 1981 published by the University.
Photograph: Oak tree at Home Farm, Forthampton. Wikimedia public domain image.
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.