The Wealds of Kent, Surrey and Sussex had detractors over almost all their history but are now regarded as embodying England at its most characteristically delightful. The author explores how places such as Ashdown Forest and wooded west Kent, which were long disliked and even feared, have come to be perceived as jewels of landscape for leisure and recreation. He also traces the unremitting labour of generations of the region's small farmers to clear and settle a great expanse of wild country that has resulted in one of the most notable pieces of man's handiwork in Europe, and which has persisted to an astonishing degree relatively unchanged over a course of some eight centuries or more. This human story began as a saga of man against forest and continued as one of the interaction of man with trees - cared for to provide shipbuilding timber and fuel; to sustain the region's handicrafts; saved from the forester's axe to provide sporting pleasures and planted in pineta, arboreta and 'wild gardens' by Victorian and Edwardian 'nouveaux riches'. This book will enrich the enjoyment of those who reside in the Weald or live in sight of it and is essential reading for those whose interest in it is as landowner, farmer, ecologist, planner, conservationist, councillor or local historian.