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Riddlesdown is a beautiful piece of nature where such a space has many aspects to it which are not known of to many people unless you explore into the common yourself it will never be known. This book covers interesting features of the common which may be of interest to you or just make you aware of what you already may know. It is a lovely place to be a part of and I am very happy to have such a space around the vicinity of where I live and can make this space known to others who have a passion of nature like I do.

The common is a place of tranquility, home to birds and livestock. There are 31 species of birds associated within the common but there are a few that have been spotted more often than most, which are the Black Cap, Yellow Hammer, Skylark and Bluetits. These birds all have common ground with one another, in aspects of breeding, when they come around and areas of habitat. The woodland is a vast space for these birds to breed and live freely within an open environment.

Wildlife on the common is what makes part of it the amount of space associated with the common, there are many insects, animals, plants, flowers and many different types of greenery. Riddlesdown may be a local to many around the area but most are not aware of the rarities that are on the common which makes this place, a place of uniqueness.


birds left in the UK

These birds are the largest woodpeckers in Britain. They are seen to have a heavy looking body with a short tail and can mostly be seen all year round. This type of woodpecker is highly attracted to space and envrionments like Riddlesdown as the greenery and the terrain is what they like best. These birds are one of the rarer types of woodpecker but when it has been spotted it is definitely a sight for sore eyes.

Bee Orchid are flowers that are very unusual in shape but are a part of the orchid family. They grow on sunny, well drained grassland low in nutrients which well describes Ridddlesdown. As during the summer months Riddlesdown can be quite dry and not very moist like many grasslands can be during this period. It is one the most distinctive but recognised orchid’s in the UK. These flowers can be seen during the time of May and July, they are still visible after this time but they are not as vibrant as they would be. After they have wilted the seeds contained within the flower can last between 5 and 6 years.


The flower of the bee orchid produces a scent like a female bee and it’s shape has evolved to attract male bees. The bee attempt to mate with the flower and in doing so transfer pollen between plants.

About Riddlesdown

Riddlesdown has a lot of history behind it. The name Riddlesdown came from the medieval times where it was originally called ‘Riddleleah’ which in Medival Engish means ‘cleared woodland’ but soon later after this in 1531 it was given the name of ‘Ridelesdoune.’ Finally now it has its name that has stayed for many years. Riddlesdown is a vast space that was just greenery with no use of it until some farmers bought the land and allowed it to be used for farming and a through way for people to access that is how it gained it’s original name.


Stone Ages Neolithic

This period of time in Britain has shown evidence relating to these times. Along the years three graves have been found along the common which made the archaeologists feel there must have been a cemetry nearby for the graves to be where they were, but no other memorials or graves had been recovered in the area. Riddlesdown has been developed from when these graves were laid. A few residents in 1962 allowed for some of their back gardens to be dug up to see if there would be any other form of evidence but there was no luck. There was also more evidence of this period as stone axes had also been found around the vicinity of Riddlesdown, which has been related to celtic tribal activity.

In 1937 from Riddlesdown Road to the common which is around half a mile, found were 25 feet wide and layered with 12 inches of flints which have been associated with the Romans as they had built the path that runs through the common. Part of the common’s road track are believed to be marling pits which was dug up by farmers to improve poor soil for their farming. Farming has been the sole purpose of the common ever since it was bought by the original medieval owners, who had cattle and needed a place for work and for their animals to graze in an environment which was open and spacious and that’s what Riddlesdown provided.


Farming Cattle

Chalk is a source of the farming industry and that is how the chalk cliffs have appeared in Riddlesdown Common from when the farmers used the common as a main place for farming. The downland is still a good use of fertilization for as there is much growth surrounding the areas of the cliffs. Poor soil and lack of growth in areas the farmers would work on they used the chalk to improve these situations and it helped hugely. Part of the common beneath the surface is mostly chalk and that’s where cattle and sheep are kept most of the time due to the cattle grazing and eating the grass, it clearly benefits as was is taken would be replaced from the chalk beneath the soil.


Chalk contains the elements of Calcium, Carbon and Oxygen in the ratio of 1:1:3.

Animals that live on the common range from large to very small, which include foxes, bettles, snails and small lizards but the sight to catch these animals are extremely rare as the common is such a large space. Riddlesdown became a habitat for animals since the late 1960’s and is growing continuously growing.

The common was a place for sheep and cattle to graze on the common so they are the largest of animals that are seen on the common between the months of April to June, but they aren’t always there every year. The type of terrain that is on the common, the soil was perfect for the cattle as cattle would graze for around 8 hours a day and the grassland was the perfect place to allow their cattle to be as free as they wanted.

Riddlesdown Common is dog owners who are in the common quite often. The space is big enough to take your dog for a stroll without getting in other people’s way. It must be also very enjoyable for the dogs to have the free space to run around and interact with other dogs if they come into contact with one another. Dog walkers come in and out throughout the day from early morning walks to early evening walks as well anytime of the day is good to be in the common. Some walkers come once a day and some come twice a day. I created an infographic of how many people walk their dogs during a normal day to show just how popular the common is with dog walkers.

Asking people who I spotted on the common whilst walking their dogs, I wanted to get a point of view from them on how they see the common by asking them to describe the common in three words.

Riddlesdown Common is part of a town, Purley. There are many ways to get from place to place and the common does take up quite a big part of the area so it is access for the public to get through easily. In which country walkers take these different routes to lead to different areas and explore more about the area in which they didn’t know already, these paths are always open and available for walkers. All the areas are within good distance of one another, which makes riddlesdown one of the largest green spaces that have links to other areas other than Purley itself.

Riddlesdown is a space that covers many areas, a lot of history, thoughts, views, memories and visitors that go through the common on a regular and not so. Among the many people that visit the common, sometimes it can be good to speak to people you personally know that have experienced the common in a different way to you have and asking people many came back with completely different responses which was nice to hear all their thoughts and memories of Riddlesdown Common.

cow tipping

“ As the cows were always around and being young we wanted something to do that would be fun, with causing no harm and that was cow tipping. We thought it was absolutely hilarious to push the cows over as they had no way of picking themselves back up. The rangers would always be around to help the cows and after school we would go back to see if the cows were still on their backs but they weren’t so it was just a bit of harmeless fun.” Simone



“Riddlesdown has always been a fun place to hang out during the summer holidays, when we had nothing to do with our time. So when the winter months came by we always made it as fun as possible it would be cold but it was the common that made it that much more fun, diving into the snow making snow angels, having snow fights until we could no longer feel our fingers is my best memory of Riddlesdown.” Laura



“Mary Poppins is probably the best way to describe what I am about to say. It was a cold rainy morning on the way to school walking along Riddlesdown with my friend we had one umbrella to share between us, whilst this wind and rain was fighting us aswell as the umbrella. It was extremely funny and at one point we thought the wind would be so strong and take us up like Mary Poppins, and that’s why it was so funny because we thought we’d be flying to school along with our battered umbrella.” Tahmina


Front and Back Cover courtesy of Google Maps Photographs and Illustrations by Jessica Opoku-Amoah With Thanks to Jason Opoku-Amoah

Riddlesdown Common  
Riddlesdown Common  

Publication created for Final Major Project