On Sunday 20th February Paul participated in the South of England Hedgelaying Societies 2022 annual competition and was the proud winner of the South of England Championship Cup from the Champions Class!

He also went on to win Best Staking & Binding and the Points Trophy, the highest ploughing match Hedgelaying and the South of England Championships combined results received this season. Paul achieved a total of 39 points out of a possible 40.

Paul was delighted to win all these trophies given he hadn’t won since 2009, although, he has been placed second 7 or 8 times between then and now!

“Predominantly made up of Hawthorn, the hedge proved far more difficult than originally was thought due to the stock fence behind which for left-handed cutters like myself is difficult but you just have to get on with it and 5 hours later I am pleased that I did just that” Paul Matthews

I hope you will all join me in congratulating Paul on his achievements.

Thank you,


Christmas Fair In The Woods

Christmas is coming to Birtley Woodland Art Space and we would like to welcome you to join us at our Christmas Fair on Saturday 20th November between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. We have more than 24 exhibitors, local artists and makers displaying their quality hand-made products and gifts.

You can also participate in some of the onsite activities such as fire-lighting, tomahawk throwing, pyrography and other wood crafts for adults and children alike!

Come and join us around our crackling fire to toast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate or Mulled Wine from our very own pop-up tea & coffee shop! A selection of cakes, savouries and soups will also be on offer from ‘Janes Cakes”.

We are also very pleased to have singers Will and Nina join us on the day. Will is in a band called Aqualine and Nina has been studying to complete a fine art degree at university. They will join us from 11.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. playing and singing live in this delightful, atmospheric and accessible woodland setting.

Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome and we have clean toilet facilities available in the car park which is close to the main Birtley House gated entrance to the estate.

PLEASE BOOK YOUR FREE VISITORS SLOT HERE: https://www.birtleywoodlandartspace.co.uk/christmas-fair-in-the-woods


people standing in front of wood pile

With the festive season fast approaching, we begin to turn our thoughts to how we can spend time with those we care about this year! Some of us are also thinking about gifts for Christmas and many of us want to ensure these are environmentally friendly. So what better than to gift an experience that uses natural, sustainably sourced materials we have coppiced ourselves locally, creating memories with those we care about that will be treasured for life! I hope you have a chance to look at what we can offer below, but first I just want to share my own musings…

When I think about my own group of friends our lifestyles and careers are all so diverse! Some meet up regularly, others we only get to see once or twice a year. A few of our friends are fairly new but many of us have grown up together, had children at the same time and are now enjoying our grandchildren. Some of us do not have children or extended families either, we are all so different. Many of us have independent hobbies and some shared activities we enjoy together. Quite of few of our extended family members live much further afield, however, they always appreciate it when we call!

What we share most is the importance of spending quality time together when we can and when we can’t to ensure we let each other know we care and are thinking of them. So many of us have been impacted by the COVID19 pandemic in so many ways, some have suffered more than others. Many of us turned to regular Zoom calls, walks and baking, some have been more isolated than others but may have made the most of their time by taking up new hobbies, improving homes and gardens and readying for when they could socialise once more. Others such as the NHS and support workers have worked themselves to exhaustion to help others, what we can all agree on is that we have had both similar and different experiences over the past 18 months both good and bad!

Some of the happier times I’ve spent this year have been when running our course and workshop, we have hosted several private events for various groups of friends and families. There is something so very special about spending time in the outdoors, switching off from your day to day worries and just enjoying being surrounded by nature and the people you care about, creating lasting memories you can share forever!


As we move forward, toward this year festive season it feels a little bit more special than usual, many of us are planning ahead much sooner than in previous years. I’ve personally been focusing on creating lots of different experiences for you my readers but also for my friends and family to enjoy! I am also busy crafting for several Christmas Fairs we will attend in November and December too, I’ve shared more about these below! Paul has been busy laying hedges and running our Hedgelaying Training Courses, the next one is coming up, our trainees will start laying a new hedge situated on the Birtley Estate in Bramley just up the path from my outdoor studio!

So what special experiences can we offer that may be of interest to you, your friends and your family this festive season?

We have a wide selection of Christmas Workshops coming up at various indoor and outdoor locations across the Surrey Hills, places are filling up quickly so do take a look and book your place today! We have limited dates available for private events but please feel free to reach out to discuss further.


Our two-day Hedgelaying & Wattle Hurdle Training Courses plus our year-round workshops all make great gifts for Christmas. You can pre-book an event that has already been published or you can purchase a Gift Voucher if preferred.

See our Calendar of Events for more information and to book or maybe consider a gift voucher from our online shop instead!


We have several Christmas Fair’s coming up where we will be exhibiting this year including our own Christmas Fair In The Woods together with Ruth Wheeler at our shared outdoor studio, Birtley Woodland Art Space…

Join us for mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas cheer! We will be serving refreshments and food made from locally sourced ingredients, come enjoy the music too and the relaxing ambience of our outdoor studio.

We have a fantastic group of artisan stallholders exhibiting their work with a wide selection of handmade Christmas gifts for you to browse and buy. Come along and visit Birtley Woodland Art Space, meet the artists and makers, view their work, watch demonstrations and learn more about what they have to offer.

We are delighted to be exhibiting at this year’s Surrey Hills Christmas Fair at West Horsley Place, Epsom Road, West Horsley, KT24 6AN on 26th, 27th and 28th November. Opening times: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Surrey Hills Christmas Fair celebrates the best of Surrey arts, crafts and artisanal produce. The event will take place across the Manor House and Place Farm Barn and is hosted by West Horsely Place in partnership with Surrey Hills Enterprises.

Surrey Hills Enterprises (exhibiting in Place Farm Barn)

Surrey Hills Enterprises is a membership organisation for sustainable local businesses and artisan producers. Place Farm Barn and courtyard will host a variety of stalls including food and drink stuffs, skincare, jewellery, fashion and country crafts. You will also find refreshments and light bites in the courtyard. 

We have been invited as an exhibitor to a Christmas Pop-Up event at Newlands Corner too. The event is running on both 10th and 11th December, we will be exhibiting for one day only on Sunday 11th December. Our stand will include natural Christmas Wreaths, Willow Stars, Hearts and Angels and various other Willow Crafts and kits. This is a great location to also enjoy an afternoon walk and take in the views of the surrounding Surrey Hills landscape, just breathtaking!

Thank you for your continued support, we look forward to welcoming you to experience one of our workshops or training courses at your choice of location very soon.


Lorraine & Paul


group of people celebrating

As we reach the end of August we have our first opportunity to talk face to face with the general public as we will be exhibiting at the Edenbridge & Oxted Agricultural Show, Lingfield, Surrey on Sunday 29th and Monday 30th August!

At the heart of this 2-day event, you’ll find close-up encounters with animals of all sizes – from farm animals to pets, poultry, horses, working dogs, falconry, ferrets, bees and bats!

Paul will be undertaking a Hedgelaying demonstration on Sunday, you will find us alongside other rural crafts in the Country Sports section of the showground.

As we move into September we have three more exciting events where we will be exhibiting, we welcome these opportunities to meet with like-minded people, to have some great conversations and share our display of Willow and other wood crafts we make in our workshops and training courses. We also enjoy undertaking demonstrations and welcome any questions you may have.

The first event in September is the Unusual Plant and Garden Fair at Sussex Prairie Gardens, nr Henfield. Come along and join us at this picturesque location on Sunday 5th September.

Paul will be undertaking a Wattle Hurdle making demonstration at this event and I (Lorraine) will be Willow Weaving!

The next long-awaited event is the Surrey Hills Wood Fair, as with so many events it was unable to take place last year. We are excited to join other fellow Surrey Hills Enterprise members to exhibit and again Paul will be undertaking a Hedgelaying demonstration too. This is a two-day event to be held in Cranleigh on 11th & 12th September. Get 25% off tickets by booking in advance!

Paul will be undertaking a Wattle Hurdle making demonstration at this event and I (Lorraine) will be Willow Weaving!

And finally, Zero Carbon Guildford is bringing the borough together to hold a climate festival as part of the national Great Big Green Week. Guildford community groups, organisations, and businesses will be showcasing the work being done locally on food security, environmental protection, and mitigation and adaptation to the climate and ecological crisis. 

We are delighted to have been invited to exhibit our work at the grounds of Guildford Cathedral, Paul will be undertaking a Hedgelaying demonstration on Friday 24th September alongside our stand and I (Lorraine) will be undertaking workshops together with Ruth Wheeler on both Friday 24th and Saturday 25th September to promote Birtley Woodland Art Space, our shared outdoor studio located on the Birtley Estate in Bramley, Guildford. We will be publishing pre-bookable workshops early next week.


As I’ve already mentioned above some of our training courses it’s a good time to highlight two key experiences, Hedgelaying & Wattle Hurdle Making.

The desire to conserve and enhance our heritage hedgerows, undertake new (old) skills and spend time in the outdoors is on the increase. We would like to welcome you to join either a two-day Hedgelaying or Wattle Hurdle Making Course to include Coppicing (a traditional method of woodland management) and enjoy an experience that will stay with you for life!

Courses commence in October each year in line with the Coppicing season and continue through to March the following year. All courses are delivered by award-winning National and Supreme Champion and professional Hedgelayer Paul Matthews.


Hedgelaying is a management solution for overgrown hedges widely practised throughout the UK and Europe and is the key commercial activity we undertake during the winter months. A country craft that rejuvenates existing hedgerows by encouraging them to put on new growth, Hedgelaying improves the overall structure and strength of a hedge providing protection for crops and wildlife.


Wattle Hurdle Making, is an age-old practice of weaving cleft hazel rods through upright hazel rods. Hurdles are used as a rustic, practical and attractive alternative to modern-day fencing panels. During the training course, you will have the opportunity to make a panel or screen woven from Hazel and if you have room on the roof of your car you are welcome to take your finished work home!


We offer a wide selection of experiences for private groups, families, adults and teenagers of all ages and abilities. See our calendar of events link above for all published events to date.

Thank you for your continued support, it would not be possible to run our business without you, do come along and visit us at one of our events or make contact if you just want to chat or have any questions.

See you soon,

Lorraine & Paul

Welcome to the woods!


I would like to tell you more about a great location we began developing last year to host our workshops and courses and would like to share with you our plans from May onwards.

Birtley Woodland Art Space is a community art, crafts and wellbeing space for people to come together and learn from professional instructors passionate about sharing and passing on their knowledge and skills to others.

Helping people gain new skills and knowledge isn’t only a commitment, but also a passion. Co-founders Ruth Wheeler and I (Lorraine Ellery Matthews) offer a wide variety of workshop experiences and courses between us and are growing our offering by inviting Artists, Makers and Wellness instructors to join us from time to time to continue to make the learning experience both interesting and fun.

Birtley Woodland Art Space is nestled within the woodland beyond the lake on the Birtley Estate in Bramley, Guildford a beautiful Surrey Hills location, so picturesque with its lakes and gardens and woodland walks and not surprisingly it is classified as an “AONB” an area of outstanding natural beauty

Ruth and I are both members of Surrey Hills Enterprises a membership organisation supporting local enterprises. We first met at the Pippfest festival in Dorking in September 2018 exhibiting under our own independent brands ‘ScuptIt’ and ‘Hedges & Hurdles Country Skills & Crafts.’ It wasn’t until several further discussions at Surrey Hills member events the following year that we began carving out a collaborative approach and offering at the Birtley Estate. We launched early last year, ran a few workshops in March and then we all know what happened next!

We are now back running workshops and looking at further developing Birtley Woodland Art Space within the Birtley Estate, with plans to utilise even more of the woodland and surrounding spaces available on the 48-acre site, we will have further announcements to share in the coming weeks!

What arts and skills can people learn at Birtley Woodland Art Space?

At the beginning of each year during the coppicing season I teach volunteers including members of the HALO Project (a charity supporting young adults with learning difficulties), about the tools and skills needed to pollard and process the Willow grown on the estate. The picture above shows one of the groups revisiting the Willow coppice recently.

The Willow is used for many forms of art and craft including the creation of Plant Supports and teaching trainees the heritage skill of weaving traditional Willow Wattle Hurdles. I also buy in specialist basket Willow from Somerset for my varied workshops making Butterflies, Dragonflies and Flower sculptures to Foraging Baskets, Tension Trays and my unique Botanical & Willow combinations of crafts. Hazel, Chestnut and other natural materials are also coppiced locally to be used to create Wood Art of various forms.

Ruth teaches traditional wood carving at Birtley, using locally sourced wood to make 2d Relief Art Work and Signs plus offering her popular Pyrography workshops (meaning: to draw with fire). Ruth is inspired by the local Surrey landscape, particularly Birch Trees, Ferns, Woodlands, Landscapes as well as Indian, African and Maori cultures.

In addition to working with wood, Ruth is a qualified Yoga and Nia instructor. As a fusion practice, Nia integrates wisdom and practices from a diverse range of influences through the lens of the body to create a holistic practice that enhances overall health and well-being for everybody. To stimulate movement and energetic variety, Nia blends the Martial Arts, Dance Arts and Healing Arts which are comprised of 9 Movement Forms: Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido; Jazz, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance; and Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Yoga.

Additional skills visitors can learn in 2021 include: Spoon Carving, Felt Making; Soap Stone Carving, Ceramics, Decoupage On Wood, Natural Wreath Making, Mindfulness plus seasonal art and crafts and activities offered by guest artists and makers.

Birtley Woodland Art Space is also a great location for private group events, something we are looking forward to running more of in 2021 onwards, these are very popular so need to be planned as much in advance as is possible. Catering options can be requested too.


We have a varied selection of training courses and workshops coming up at various venues including Birtley Woodland Art Space in May:

Spring Willow Craft Workshop
Saturday 1st May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Plant Support Workshop
Saturday 8th May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Willow In The Woods
Friday 14th May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Plant Support Workshop
Saturday 15th May
Private Woodlands, Smallfield, Horley


Ruth’s Spring Pyrography Workshop
Saturday 15th May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Weekend Wood Carving Experience
Saturday 15th May & Sunday 16th May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Earth Goddess – Women In the Woods Series
Friday 21st May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Botanical Dreams
Saturday 22nd May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Plant Support Workshop
Saturday 28th May
Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford


Botanical Dreams
Sunday 29th May
Flitton’s Nursery, Woodcote, Surrey


Surrey Artists Open Studio

This coming June, in collaboration with Surrey Artist Open Studio (SAOS), ten amazing artists and makers will take part in an Open Studio, to be hosted in and around Birtley Woodland Art Space. They will join Ruth and Lorraine to exhibit their work displaying paintings; textiles; mosaics; wood and ceramic sculpture; Willow art; 2d art; jewellery; metal and green woodwork and also outdoor furniture.
See here for information about the Artists and Makers.


“Art In The Woods” is the name given to the taster workshops to be delivered each Saturday during Open Studios’ by the Surrey Artist Open Studio Group members. The first taster workshop is on Saturday 5th June and the following two Saturday’s thereafter.


Thank you for your continued support, we look forward to welcoming you to our further events this year at one of our fantastic locations.

We will be back at Sussex Prairies and Priory Farm in June and will be bringing more courses delivered by Paul later in the year.

Lorraine & Paul