History

Harebushes wood walk in a summer's dayThe Harebushes was planted in the early 1820's by Jane Master an ancestor of the Chester-Master family the present owners of the wood. Jane lived in the Abbey House which stood in Cirencester's Abbey Grounds. The house was demolished in 1964 having been empty for many years and flats were built on the site.

The planting of the Harebushes would appear to have been a grand landscaping scheeme (incorporating planned timber production) that also involved the establishement of Ragged Hedge and Sisters woods (see permissive footpath map) as well as several other plantations on the old Abbey Estate. The greater part of the wood was planted on existing fields including some medieval ridge and furrow. It did however include a small area shown on a map of 1774 as 'the old wood' which may have been a remnant of ancient woodland. What was until then a relatively bare farming landscape was dramatically altered by the scale of the planting and many of today's views and field boundaries date from this time.

The planting records and several old maps are stored in the county archives in Gloucester and original notebooks list all the trees planted and groundworks undertaken. Between 1823 and 1827 a total of 123 acres of woodland were established. In 1823 alone 148,000 trees were planted including ash, alder, birch, scotch fir, poplar, spanish chestnut, hazel, oak, elm, quickthorn, sycamore, beech, yew and other species. Many of these original trees are still living.

Apart from a period during the Second World War, when the Harebushes was used as a military transit camp, the wood remained a private domain. Activities included pheasant shoots, regular visits from the local hunt as well as timber harvesting and tree planting.

In 1996 the 'Cirencester Bypass' cut through the eastern end of the wood, which is now separated by the A417.

The permissive foot path opened in May 2010.