The Murray Downland Trust was founded in 1993 and named after the late K M Elisabeth (Betty) Murray FRHistS FSA (1909-1998). The Trust has its roots in the conservation work of Betty Murray and her brother Kenneth (1902-1972). Betty, who was born in Cambridgeshire, is best remembered for her work as Principal of Bishop Otter College, Chichester from 1948 to 1970. For a period she was Chair of the Council of the Sussex Archaeological Society and later its President. She brought about, amongst many other achievements, the restoration of Pallant House in Chichester and its opening as an art gallery.
Kenneth was a sculptor who introduced an art curriculum for Nigerian schools as Superintendent of Education from 1927-1939. In 1946 he was appointed First Surveyor of Antiquities and laid the foundations of the museum service in Nigeria.
When Kenneth came home on leave he was dismayed by the state of the Downs. He and his sister began conservation work on an ad hoc basis, working on reducing the scrub to conserve the natural grassland slopes. After his death in Nigeria, Betty persuaded the Cowdray Estate to grant a 50 year lease to continue the work partly in his memory.
The Trust manages areas of unimproved chalkland in the South Downs National Park. It acquires small areas of land by lease, gift or purchase and sets out to improve the richness and diversity of flora and fauna in these reserves. The Trust currently manages five reserves in West Sussex and Hampshire; Heyshott Escarpment, Heyshott Down, Under Beacon, The Devil’s Jumps and Buriton Down and actively seeks new reserves to build 'corridors for wildlife’ along the South Downs.
Local residents and visitors are encouraged to become members to enjoy the natural beauty and richness of the reserves and to support our work. The Murray Downland Trust also provides opportunities and expert guidance for volunteers to become involved with the management of the reserves.
Volunteering to join our regular work parties can be a wonderful way of keeping fit and very sociable. Please see our work parties page for further details.