|LCT10 Open Chalklands||
LCA10C Thruxton and Danebury Chalk Downland
Thruxton and Danebury Chalk Downland is the largest of the Landscape Character Areas of this Landscape Character Type.
It has a relatively level landform only broken by the chalk river valleys of Wallop Brook, the River Anton and Pillhill Brook and smaller streams and dry valleys leading down to these water courses, as at Thruxton. Isolated rounded hills provide a feature on the skyline, for example Bury Hill, Danebury Hill and Chattis Hill.
This is a strong rural agrarian area dominated by large-scale arable farming, resulting in a very open exposed landscape with a particularly weak hedgerow structure. However there are some areas of woodland, associated with the small hills eg Chattis Hill or steep inaccessible slopes and scarp faces, eg Cleve Hill. Smaller areas of woodland are also found adjacent farmsteadseg Eveley Farm and Castle Farm. There are a few areas of fields with pasture and hedgerows, generally associated with the older settlements within this LCA, which have integrated the settlements into the landscape.
Throughout the area there are wooded shelter belts, eg adjacent the hill forts of Danebury Hill and Chattis Hill and adjacent the farmsteads as seen with Down Farm. Their density increases within the northeastern corner of this LCA, where they are scattered across the landscape. The shelter belts within this LCA tend not to follow the underlying landform resulting in an alien feature in landform.
Parklands prevail more in the north than the south, usually positioned on the edge of settlements, for example on the southern edge of Kimpton, the northern edge of Quarley and the southern edge of Grateley. These areas of parkland are generally areas of grass with individual trees, contrasting to the more open adjacent areas of arable land.
Away from Andover, this LCA has a relatively un-spoilt agrarian character with few prominent developments, but localized detracting influences such as the A343, A30, A303, railway line, and large building associated with airfields, as seen at Thuxton, Middle Wallop and Andover Airfield. Closer to Andover, ribbon development along some of the radiating roads, has a created a degraded feel resulting in a wide transition zone from an urban character to a rural character.
The boundaries of Thruxton and Danebury Chalk Downland are defined to the south by Broughton Down, to the east the edge by the flood plain of the River Test, and northeast the flood plain of the River Anton. The western boundary is formed by the alignment of low lying hills, which include Isle of Wight Hill, Quarley Hill, Thruxton Hill and Snoddington Hill east of Grateley. The A342 and the southern edge of Andover form the northern boundary.
Thruxton and Danebury Chalk Downland encloses the chalk river floodplains of Wallop Brook River Valley Floor LCA5F, and Pilhill Brook River Valley Floor LCA5H and the chalk and clay Amport Wooded Downs LCA6D.
Local Physical Influences
Geology and soils: Upper Chalk.
Landform: Broad plateau, punctuated by a number of small but prominent hills, most notably Danebury Hill.
Drainage: Well drained, draining to Pillhill and Wallop Brooks and the River Test.
Local Biodiversity and Vegetation Pattern
There are important patches of unimproved calcareous grassland, associated with scarps, steeper slopes and the higher ground around Danebury Downs and Chattis Hill. These grasslands are typically a rich mixture of grasses and herbs and are characteristic of a vegetation with a long history of grazing. There are also several areas of habitat rich residential land and gardens.
Local Historical Influences
This Landscape Character Area represents a relatively large proportion of the central area of the Test Valley district. The lower and central areas of LCA 10C display evidence of extensive agricultural land rationalisation during principally the 19th century but also the later 18th century.
This process of increasingly arable based agriculture throughout the central portion of the Test Valley has resulted in an open landscape populated by numerous large, regular and generally straight sided fields interspersed infrequently by stands of trees and natural topographic elements upon which more marginal land could escape the process of enclosure.
Several Iron Age hill forts survive throughout this character area including Danebury. This example has been the focus of an intensive study which has included an assessment of the environs around the hill fort. This work has revealed that, to a greater or lesser extent, a network of prehistoric field systems survive surrounding the hill fort within the 19th century parliamentary landscape.
Given the large area which this LCA covers numerous forms of settlement activity prevail dependent upon their positions within the landscape. In general these settlements retain a coherent historic core which is often focused upon an early medieval church, manorial complex or important farmstead. Nineteenth and particularly 20th century development within these settlements has been minimal given the increased focus upon the larger towns and cities. During the last two or three decades this has changed with people wishing to move away from the major population centers and out into the rural landscape.
This open landscape is dominated by open parliamentary fields and the farmsteads which controlled these land holdings are generally well dispersed. Not all are located upon surveyed roads or tracks but they do tend to lie within field systems provided with straight boundaries and trackways. This large area does include what appears to be a hierarchy of farms with the larger examples located upon main roads or the junction of roads and the smaller farmsteads positioned further away within open field systems.
The principal roads throughout this area appear to be largely unchanged by the surveying of new field boundaries which was undertaken during the later 18th and 19th centuries. In contrast, many of the smaller roads and tracks do demonstrate evidence of straightening at some point in the recent past.
Overall the settlement pattern for this area varies from the southern section to the northern section. Towards the south of this LCA, larger settlements are located within the sheltered chalk river valleys, of the neighboring Landscape Type 5. However towards the north, settlements such as Grateley, Quarley, Kimpton and Fyfield are located within this LCA, set in sheltered dry valleys.
Exceptions for the general settlement pattern can be found with the military base at Middle Wallop, which is sited adjacent Middle Wallop Airfield, out on the open plain and Palestine, a settlement built post 1945 on a grid on the western edge of this LCA.
Farmsteads are located generally in two different localities, the first are located and dotted sporadically across the open plain, for example Darfield Farm, Broughton Down Farm. While others have a closer relationship with existing settlements, i.e. Goddards Farm with Middle Wallop.
Local Settlements and Features of Built Form
Broughton (North eastern portion): Chalk River Valley Settlement Type
Goodworth Clatford (Western portion): Chalk River Valley Settlement Type
Grately: Chalk Downland. Hilltop Settlement Type
Kentsboro: Chalk Downland. Hilltop Settlement Type
Kimpton: Chalk Downland. Dry Valley Settlement Type
Longstock: Chalk River Valley Settlement Type
Quarley: Chalk Downland. Dry Valley Settlement Type
Palestine: Chalk Downland. Hilltop Settlement Type
Weyhill: Clay Upland and Plateau Settlement Type
Local buildings are predominately brick and flint with clay tiled roofs.
The area is noted for its very large fields.
Danebury Hill Fort is recognised as a key landscape feature of the area and the Borough. The area is noted for its hilly downland topography, which it was thought was different to other parts of the Borough. There was considerable concern that the hillfort had been irreparably damaged when it was stripped of its woodland cover and greater access was provided onto the hill.
Broughton is noted for its distinctive ‘town like’ character of narrow streets and dense but varied housing styles. The good architectural mix is valued and considered a role model for new development.
There is concern that the fields are becoming larger and more open, with the loss and damage to hedgerows and extensive areas of one crop. There are comments that the farmland around Andover is becoming disused and derelict or poorly maintained. Farms and farm cottages may become rundown and are then reused for general housing or barns are converted as a result of the change in farming needs. The loss of pasture and sheep grazing was not considered as a great change since the area was perceived as having always been arable. Horse riding is considered to be coming more popular, partly due to the openness of the countryside. Deer are becoming increasingly common replacing cattle as local stock.
Expansion of Andover into the area is a major concern. Lighting at Middle Wallop and on road junctions is considered to be particularly intrusive.
Remoteness and Tranquillity
This is a large scale landscape, with big skies. Away from the main roads in isolated dry valleys or in close proximity to small hills, the large scale landscape can be appreciated with a strong sense of tranquillity. Lighting and traffic, particularly on the A303 and Middle Wallop, are eroding the tranquillity of a wide area, due to the openness of the landscape.
A gently undulating area of very open chalk downland dominated by arable farming
Small hills including Danebury Hill, Bury Hill and Chattis Hill create interest on the skyline
Some areas of pasture associated with older settlements
Poor hedgerow structure
A few isolated woodlands and shelter belts which traverse the landform
Intrusive development along the roads radiating out of Andover, has diluted the rural character
Airfields at Thruxton and Middle Wallop occupy large flat elevated areas
The lack of visibility of settlements within the southern section of this LCA, creates a strong feeling of remoteness
Parklands occasionally found on the edge of settlements provide diversity
Largely a landscape dominated by 19th century parliamentary enclosure
Presence of several Iron Age hill forts and in one case an extensively mapped prehistoric landscape
umber of large villages in the north of the area associated with dry valleys except at Middle Wallop and Palestine
Larger farmsteads associated with main roads with smaller farmsteads associated with remoter open field systems
Several popular and attractive villages and focal points including Amport, Abbotts Ann, Broughton, Bury Hill, Danebury Hill Fort, Goodworth Clatford, Thruxton, Upper Clatford, and the Wallops
A large scale landscape of ‘big skies’ and wide views.
Local Natural and Cultural Landscape Issues
Potential for considerable impact from modern farming methods upon the historic landscape
Potential for further modern agricultural methods to further damage the fragile evidence for the prehistoric landscape around Danebury Hill Fort and remaining unimproved chalk grassland
Loss of dark skies and tranquility over a wide area due to openness of the landscape
Potential intrusion from greater activity or changes to MOD land.
Bury Hill Fort Scheduled Monument.
Danebury Ring Scheduled Monument.
Grateley House Early 19th century park.
Kimpton House Early 19th century park.
Quarley Park Pre-1810 parkland.
SAC / SPA
Porton Down - See below
Danebury Hill - Unimproved calcareous grassland and broadleaved woodland
Porton Down (<1% of SSSI) - Unimproved calcareous grassland
Broughton Down (<10% of SSSI) - Unimproved calcareous grassland, broadleaved woodland and scrub
River Test (<1% of SSSI) - Broadleaved woodland
37 SINCs, mostly agriculturally unimproved grassland with some ancient semi-natural woodland, sites supporting notable species and localised running water