One of Hampshire's most beautiful woodland areas, where the poet Edward Thomas and his wife Helen lived before his death in the First World War. 323 acres of woodland and beech hanger, with magnificent views over the surrounding area. The nearest town is Petersfield, but roads to Alton and to Liss form part of the road boundary of the area, to which the name Ashford Chase is conveniently given, though in fact it is made up of a series of hills running east from Stoner to Wheatham. Footpaths cross the area from almost every direction. The scenery is outstanding, and has given the name "Little Switzerland" to this part of Hampshire.
The rise and fall of the landscape and its silhouette on the skyline is made even more impressive by the fact that most of the area is covered in trees, many of them magnificent beeches. In the late 1950's there were proposals to cut down the trees. As a result of this threat to amenity and a wide local appeal, the Petersfield Society was able to buy some £3,000 worth of trees in the area, and the County Council bought the land from just above Stoner going eastwards to Wheatham. Many of the most beautiful trees on either side of the road to Stoner were saved, as well as many trees in other parts of the area, especially those on the skyline. Soon after, in 1964, other woodlands, The Warren and Happersnapper Hanger to the north were also acquired. The whole area of the East Hampshire Hangers, part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been managed most carefully, and new beech trees have been planted.
On Shoulder-of-Mutton Hill there is a plaque to the writer Edward Thomas, killed at Arras in 1917. London born, he loved the hills of Hampshire and in this part of his adopted county it is indeed hard not to share what has been called his "impassioned, almost trance-like delight in things natural."
The East Hampshire Hangers landscape is an assemblage of woodland and other habitats which cling to the steep slopes of the chalk and upper greensand scarps around Selborne. This distinctive landscape stretches sinuously from Langrish to the west of Petersfield, through Hawkley and Selborne and on to Binsted, a distance of about 16 miles as the crow flies.
The name 'Hanger' comes from the Old English 'hangra' meaning a wooded slope. The Hangers on the chalk have a dramatic effect on landscape, those on the greensand are less imposing but they make an important contribution to the wooded character of the area. Most of the Hangers lie within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and have important historical connections with the 18th century naturalist Gilbert White, and the poet Edward Thomas. Many of the woods have been designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest, or are Local Nature Reserves.
Access to the Hangers by road is not easy, but there is a fine network of footpaths and tracks and the area is popular with walkers for its scenery and natural history. The Hangers Way is a through route linking Petersfield, Selborne and Alton.
- Ashford Hangers visitors map 781kb pdf