Normandy Pond is a 105yd long by 35yd wide stretch of open, woodland water giving an air of tranquillity and seclusion from everyday life and yet is within a stone's throw of the centre of the community. It is a wildlife sanctuary on the doorstep of the village.
Historically, it has had a few owners; namely The Crown, noblemen and finally the Normandy Parish Council. Whilst Normandy Common was conveyed to the Crown (in this instance, The War Department) in 1876 as being part of the Manor of Cleygate, it did not include the pond. This was purchased somewhat later in 1901 by the War Department from Lord Pirbright, then residing at Henley Park Mansion, which he was, at the time, renting from the Halsey Family.
In 1953 the Ash and Normandy Parish Council purchased the greater part of the Common, including the pond, from the War Department in order to develop the land for recreational purposes. A couple of years later Normandy became a Parish in its own right and in 1989 purchased the remainder of the common from the Ministry of Defence.
The profile of the original pond, with its distinctive head and tail drainage channels, was probably retained until the end of the nineteenth century. The map of 1871 illustrates the familiar outline, (would be great if we could add the relevant bit of this map as a photo – here is the link to it https://maps.nls.uk/view/102347475) but successive surveys between 1916 and today omit the wispy head and tail thus showing the pond isolated and land-locked
Late in 1985, Ann Adey was shown a photograph by her seventy-five year old neighbour - Miss Gladys Marshall. The photograph, dated 1908, was of Gladys and a friend sitting by the Normandy Pond, in what was obviously a normal, tranquil, rural scene of the time.
Ann was determined that Normandy should again enjoy the amenities of that pond in its fine woodland setting. Accordingly, she approached the Normandy Parish Council in March of 1986 with an offer to undertake a feasibility study for the restoration of the pond. The offer was readily accepted. Her investigations alone took six months,
A vote was taken if Normandy people wanted the pond restored with 100% to go ahead! A Mr Albert Cunningham new to the village offered to head the work force having had past experience in Cornwall on various projects. He asked for 6 people to join him with a positive result. A Mr John Squire volunteered to be treasurer; finally Ann Adey volunteered to be chairperson. Restoration of the pond was indeed launched!
During the start of the clearance work on the pond, volunteers probed and located under about nine inches of silt, not only the ancient path but the buried stones of the old ford or splash as some would prefer to term it. Where the path met the stream it was discovered that the stream had in fact diverted itself some twelve feet and thus burying completely the stones of the ford. The workers re-diverted the stream back to its original course and the beautiful stones were uncovered so that once again the cool, clean, clear water of the stream courses over the ancient stones. Legend has it that the stones came originally from Chertsey Abbey and who would wish to disagree with that! A firm surface was also found measuring axil width (for a cart) under a foot of mud, silt, and undergrowth.
The restoration work was completed and on the 27th November 1990, Ann Adey accepted on behalf of the Normandy Pond Project the framed award of "Pondwatch Community Wildlife Pond of the Year"
In 1996 Normandy Pond was selected by the Nature Conservation Group and awarded a SNCI (Site of Nature Conservation Importance).
The Pond is a wonderful place to sit next to and watch wildlife, gently contemplating how amazing the natural world is.
The Pond has largely been managed since then by an amazing group, in conjunction with the Parish Council. They have improved paths, built bridges and managed the woodland around the Pond as well.
The Council has the ultimate responsibility for the management of the pond, along with the rest of the Common and will ensure that it is maintained in good heart going forward. To do this, we will base management of the Pond on Surrey Wildlife Trusts 2022 Survey and Management Plan of the Common. There is always a need for more people to be involved in the care and management of the Pond, so please get in touch if you would like to know more.