In 1997 Mr Johnson, a local landowner, allowed the sloping site near Dungeon Coppice to be planted with woodland trees by Thorncombe Village Trust. Many people pass this woodland daily when walking through from Wittey's Lane to the Dungeon without realising its history.
The steepness of the field made cultivation difficult, and we were looking for a
suitable site for planting a large number of trees . At that time Derrick Comley,
one of the founding members of the Trust, was enthusiastically involved in tree-
Early plans and discussions took place in January 1997, and we were able to access a Forestry Authority Woodland Grant from Dorset County Council, who also sent along a Conservation Field Team to undertake planting at the end of 1997.
The site qualified as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest in Dorset, and Dorset Wildlife Trust gave us valuable advice on management of the site.
The Trust was responsible for the fencing and aftercare of the trees.
Following advice from the County Trees and Woodlands Officer, planting was restricted to the higher parts of the slope, leaving a glade lower down to continue providing a habitat for plants that had been identified, such as Black Knapweed, Devil’s Bit Scabious, Mouse Ear Hawkweed, Pignut, Louse Wort, Tormentil and Betony.
The trees chosen for planting were:30 Beech, 30 Hazel, 30 Oak, 20 Holly, 65 Ash,
15 Guelder Rose, 50 Field Maple, 15 Wayfaring Tree, 30 Small-
In the intervening years the trees have grown and filled out the space, creating a real woodland. A couple of years ago we asked advice from Dorset Wildlife Trust over the condition and maintenance of the wood, as most of the trees had now grown out of their protective sleeves, and some had died or fallen over. The advice given was to leave the wood to continue as it was for the present, and to leave the fallen trees and branches as valuable cover and habitats. We will continue to review this.
We have lopped some branches from selected trees to create a view through from the top path :
although this needs doing again.......volunteers to help with this are always welcome!
Finding Johnson's Wood
From the village, turn down Wittey's Lane from High Street and continue straight
on, crossing the stile at the end of the lane, and going through a field. After passing
through an open gateway you will see the wood on your left behind a fence. At the
end of the wood turn left and just down on the left is a stile and a dog-
It is now 17 years since Johnson's Wood was created. We have seen it become a beautiful and valuable part of the landscape, and over future years we will watch as it develops.
If you haven't been there yet, take the time to visit and sit on Derrick's seat and enjoy the view.