Extra land gifted by Wiston Estate to Steyning Downland Scheme will become wildlife sanctuary

Wiston Estate has gifted an extra seven acres of land to the Steyning Downland Scheme and it is to be turned into a secluded wildlife haven.
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The area, known as Wylie's Field, will be kept as a vital sanctuary area, where wildlife can live undisturbed.

The South Downs National Park Authority has given a grant so the charity can put up a new fence ahead of starting conservation grazing.

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The new land adds to the 165 acres on the Wiston Estate which is already managed by the Steyning Downland Scheme.

The view up Nightingale Lane from the Gateway building, off Mouse Lane, Steyning. Picture: Elaine Hammond / Sussex WorldThe view up Nightingale Lane from the Gateway building, off Mouse Lane, Steyning. Picture: Elaine Hammond / Sussex World
The view up Nightingale Lane from the Gateway building, off Mouse Lane, Steyning. Picture: Elaine Hammond / Sussex World

It is a former arable field that lies north and east of Steyning Rifle Range. During the Second World War, it was actually part of the Rifle Range and it is named after Private Leslie Thomas Wylie, who was killed in a tragic accident in 1944 when stray shells landed there during a Home Guard training exercise.

The Canadian Army had shelled the area without realising the men were there. There were several explosions before shells started landing all around, wounding several of the Home Guard as well as killing Private Wylie. One of the commanding officers, Lieutenant Greenwood was never able to walk again.

It is thought the soldiers had been given the wrong range for their guns, so the shells missed their targets, went right over the cricket field and landed on the Rifle Range.

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Nearly 80 years on, the plans for Wylie's Field are to turn it into a haven for wildlife, away from the public, who will continue to have free access to almost all of the rest of the Steyning Downland Scheme land.

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