Ashdown Forest, or the 100 Acre Wood as you might know it, is a beautiful area in the South of England. Full of beautiful hiking trails, small towns and lots of literary history. Ashdown Forest is known for being the fictional home of Winnie the Pooh, the beloved bear with stories created by author A.A. Milne. Near the forest itself sits a small town called Hartfield, which takes its literary icon and brings its history to life with the small tea shop and museum, Pooh’s Corner.
Pooh’s Corner has to be one of the sweetest shops I’ve ever seen. The tea room serves afternoon tea, lunches of sandwiches and salads, and little cakes for dessert. Some of the dishes are Winnie the Pooh themed, including a Pooh teapot, Eeyore plates, and other little touches that make your stay so memorable. I’ve included a picture of the menu below so you can see what other tasty treats are available.
After lunch, we walked into the museum portion of Pooh’s Corner. The museum itself is small, with only two rooms, but the history that is kept there is iconic. Old toys from the beginning of Pooh and Friends being children’s toys, texts, and videos about the original bear, Winnie, and lots of beautiful antique homeware related to Pooh Bear.
As I write with the excitement of a 5-year-old, you may be wondering, what is the history of Winnie the Pooh? Well, the original bear, Winnie, was brought to England by Harry Colebourn, a soldier in the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. Winnie herself was named after Winnipeg, Manitoba, a city in the Western part of Canada. Colebourn bought Winnie for $20 in White River Ontario, and she became the mascot for his brigade. When the troop left for England in World War 1, Winnie went with them and found her new home at the London Zoo. Fun Fact: there is now a statue in White River, Ontario of Winnie the Pooh, and I visited when I was a toddler on a family road trip!
Winnie became so popular at the London Zoo that it turned into her permanent home, and was often visited by families who adored her. One such family was author A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin! A.A. Milne wrote the stories after being inspired by how much his son loved Winnie, and the rest is history!
Can you see why I’m excited now? After growing up with Winnie the Pooh and friends, I was excited to see Ashdown Forest and all its wonders. But before we left to explore the woods, we had to stop at the shop attached to the museum. This shop had everything! And of course, since I knew that we wouldn’t be coming here often, I had to make a few purchases. We left the shop with a small ceramic Eeyore, a plush Piglet, and a beautifully framed picture of Pooh and Christopher Robin. As I write this blog, Eeyore and Piglet are both visible to me, and seeing them makes me smile and reminds me how unique England and its literature is to me.
After leaving Pooh’s Corner, we were ready (with our new friend Piglet) to explore the forest! One of the forest’s main attractions is Pooh Bridge, where you and a friend can find sticks on the ground and play a friendly game of Pooh Sticks! Unfortunately, our sticks broke, and there were some kids waiting very patiently to play but were happy to take some pictures and just enjoy being in the forest at Pooh Bridge.
When we left Pooh Bridge to head back to the car, we came across some beautiful little fairy doors on the sides of some of the trees. At the doorsteps were little notes in child hand-writing addressed to Pooh, Piglet, and the other friends. These notes were so sweet, and I loved seeing that the magic of Winnie the Pooh never stops. He’s a character that can be passed on through generations because everyone needs a bear to snuggle.
If you’re visiting England for the first time, Ashdown Forest may not be on your itinerary. But I would recommend you to re-think that. It’s a wonderful, quiet walk in the woods that also happens to be connected to one of the most-loved bears of all time. The people at Pooh’s Corner were so sweet, and the restaurant/ museum combo perfectly suits the story. A little bit of honey (food) and a little bit of adventure!
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -A.A. Milne