Deep in the 100 acre wood
Where Christopher Robin plays
You’ll find the enchanted neighbourhood
Of Christopher’s childhood days
Winnie the Pooh has delighted children and adults alike for many years, but did you know the beginnings of the lovable bear were born right here in Sussex?
In celebration of Winnie the Pooh Day, which falls on 18th January (author A.A. Milne’s birthday), we are exploring the corner of Sussex that inspired Pooh’s stomping ground, the Hundred Acre Wood.
The man behind the honey-guzzling pooh bear, Alan Alexander Milne, was born in Hampstead, London, in 1882. While attending Cambridge University to read mathematics, Milne edited and wrote for Granta magazine. After obtaining his degree, he moved to London and worked as a freelance writer.
In 1913, he married Dorothy de Sélincourt, and in 1925 the couple and their son moved to Cotchfield Farm, just north of Ashdown Forest in Hartfield. It was here that Milne observed the adventures of his son, the real-life Christopher Robin, and his toys, and drew inspiration for his books about the willy, nilly, silly old bear.
Real life inspiration
Several locations in Ashdown Forest can be matched to locations in the Pooh stories, such as Hundred Acre Wood, which was really Five Hundred Acre Wood. Gills Lap inspired Galleon’s Lap, the group of pine trees on the other side of the main road became the Six Pine Trees, Poohsticks Bridge was based on the bridge over the river at Posingford, and a nearby ancient walnut tree became Pooh’s House. Christopher’s toys – Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and two invented characters (Owl and Rabbit) – came to life. Kanga and Tigger were gifted to him by his parents later on.
E.H. Shepard, who illustrated the books, also became inspired by the open heathlands, wooded areas and high ridges, and clumps of pine trees of Ashdown Forest. The landscapes of the forest, which created the beloved home of Pooh and friends, were an essential part of the books’ successes. Painting the Sussex countryside in all its glory, Pooh, Tigger, and the crew marching through heather and bracken has firmly placed Hartfield and Ashdown on the map.
Do you want to see for yourself, home of the chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff? Visit the real Hundred Acre Wood and spend a day at Pooh Corner, nestled on the edge of Ashdown Forest.
Take home your very own cuddly bear from the official gift shop; visit the free Pooh’seum which showcases the life of A. A. Milne, E. H. Shepard, and Christopher Robin; or indulge in a spot of tea in Piglet’s tea room or the more historic E. H. Shepard tea room, which is full of vintage and much-loved artwork. You could even challenge the family to your very own game of Poohsticks!
To truly discover the home of Pooh, Tigger, and the rest of the gang, embark on The Pooh Walk, which will take you to some of the sites of their most memorable adventures. The shorter walk will take you past The Enchanted Place and the Sandy Pit, while the longer walk descends to the North Pole and Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place. A booklet on the walks is available here.
Find out more about walks which will take you in search of Winnie the Pooh, and don’t forget to grab your big boots. As Pooh himself said, “when you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”