The National Trust has added 134 acres of woodland at Ranmore Common, near Polesden Lacey in Surrey, into its care. The acquisition has been enabled by kind legacies from supporters.

Ashcombe Woods is made up of mixed, native broadleaf woodland and forms part of the Ranmore Common Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The land will be united with 450 acres of Ranmore Common, which the conservation charity has owned since 1959, as part of the Polesden Lacey estate.

Positioned high up on the Surrey Hills, near Dorking, Ashcombe Woods is home to oak, holly, silver birch and yew trees, with some areas of heath and rough pasture. There is a diverse community of breeding birds, insects and beetles, which includes the satin raise moth and white admiral butterfly.

Much of the woodland is classed as common land, which the public has open access to. This continues under National Trust ownership and the land is protected from threat of any future development, to benefit residents, visitors and nature. Walkers will be able to easily extend their route from Denbies Hillside in the Surrey Hills, already in the care of the National Trust. Or go on a much extended ramble from Polesden Lacey around Ranmore Common.

National Trust General Manager Katherine Mills said: “I’m really delighted that we’ve been able to acquire the land at Ashcombe Woods. The woods are well loved by local residents as well as being a special home to nature, as reflected in much of the land’s SSSI status.

“Polesden Lacey was a truly remarkable legacy, left to the National Trust in 1942 by Dame Margaret Greville and so it feels very touching that this land purchase has also been enabled by legacies left to the Trust. The purchase reunites Ranmore Common, by putting it largely under a single owner. We want to continue to manage the land for the enjoyment of people, but also to benefit nature.”

 The historic name Ashcombe Woods reflects that it was part of the former Ashcombe/Cubbitt estate. The Denbies estate, close to Ranmore Common, was purchased in 1850 by Thomas Cubbitt, a masterbuilder who was involved in remodelling Polesden Lacey, as well as Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight. The family owned the estate until 1984, which grew to around 2,000 acres in its heyday. It was Thomas Cubbitt’s son George, a politician, who was created the first Lord Ashcombe.

The National Trust will manage this much-loved stretch of the Surrey Hills for nature and public access, working closely with Natural England in caring for the Site of Special Scientific Interest and developing an approved woodland management plan in association with the Forestry Commission.

Katherine Mills continued: “It is a huge privilege to have Ashcombe Woods in our care. We look forward to getting to know local residents and volunteers and learning more about their connections to the land.”