The Isle of Thorns is on Ashdown Forest at the Chelwood Gate.

The Isle of Thorns, a contradiction and an enigma.

Its name goes back to at least the 16th century and the probable origin of the name was an enclosure made of thorns.

Ideal for keeping sheep safe from foxes and other wild animals.

Some suggest it is linked to the Red-Backed Shrike that impales food items on thorns.

Racing ahead to more recent times we have the development of the boys camp in the early 1920's where boys from Hackney came down to enjoy healthy outdoor activities.

This was started by the Eton Manor Boys’ Clubs (EMBC) with the ethos of adopting an adventurous ‘can do’ attitude.

They were expected to take part in as many different activities as possible.

The club was founded in 1909 by a group of old Etonians: Gerald Wellesley, Arthur Villiers, Sir Edward Cadogan, and Alfred Wagg, and grew out of a mission church supported by Eton College, which had been operating in the area since 1880.

It was they who were responsible for building the swimming pool, gymnasium and accommodation blocks.

Yet we cannot find any reference to the construction of the bowling green.

We know it was there in 1934 to a very high standard and that it drains superbly.

Did local bowlers persuade Alfred Wagg to build it, or did he do it for the boys. A most unlikely recreation for inner city boys at that period.

Any light the readers can put on this will be appreciated.

Then in1964 Sussex University had the use of the area and to this day their observatory is still in working order.

Most recently the sale of the whole estate to Cats Protection (formerly known as the Cats Protection League) was completed in 2002.

Through all these activities and ever since 1934 the bowling green has been sitting there and gently maturing into one of the finest outdoor bowling greens in the South East of England.

This is a sport for all ages, it can be casual and sociable or highly competitive.

At the Isle of Thorns Bowls club we manage to combine all requirements, with regular casual bowling on Monday afternoons.

Then mildly competitive games against other local clubs.

Plus several of the Ladies and Gentlemen play in highly competitive matches at County level.

The tranquil setting of the whole of the Isle of Thorns does make for ideal working and playing.

Those working or visiting the Cats Protection arrive along a pleasant tree lined lane to an area of great natural beauty.

This is of course also enjoyed by the bowlers.

Here they can park their car in the large (free) car park and stroll to the green which being set within Ashdown Forest is delightfully quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Bowling is almost unique in that you can still play it well beyond the time that sportsmen (and women) have had to give up the sport of their youth.

We have many members who in their earlier days were keen badminton, football, cricket etc players.

They can still exercise and be competitive to a ripe old age.

Mind you they can still beat those 30 year old whipper snappers that have recently joined us.

All taken in good spirit, that really is the message that still remains from the early days of The Isle of Thorns.