|LCT4 Mixed Farmland and Woodland - Small Scale||
LCA4A Sherfield English
Sherfield English is an area of low lying land which carries a network of meandering water courses flowing into the River Blackwater, which then flow on into the River Test. It has a covering of scattered small woodlands, with some aligning in a linear fashion to the water courses, for example Aldermoor Copse.
Areas of small scale fields with good hedgerows dominate this character area, as seen to the west around Bower’s Farm and Gardiner’s Farm. However there are also larger areas of open arable fields with poor gappy hedgerows, as seen to the north east of West Wellow. Other open areas are also seen north east of West Wellow, where an area of market gardening provides a patchwork of texture. Polytunnels are also visible within this area.
Small knolls rising to around 50m AOD provide local elevated areas, with some allowing long views across to the New Forest Heritage Area.
Sherfield English lies north of West Wellow and extends northwards to include Plaitford Green, Sherfield English and Woodington. The boundary for this area is not clearly defined by features on the ground, as there is a subtle transition into the adjacent character areas.
Local Physical Influences
Landform: Undulating landform sloping southwards to the River Blackwater. Shallow valleys and rounded knolls broaden out in the north of the area.
Geology and Soils: The area is predominantly London Clay with valley gravels along the river Blackwater.
Drainage: The area forms part of the northern catchment area to the River Blackwater which runs through the southern part of the area. Small tributaries which run into the River Blackwater and numerous small lakes and ponds are a characteristic feature.
Local Biodiversity and Vegetation Pattern
This area is predominantly improved pasture, together with some arable farmland, with fields divided by hedgerows. Several areas of broadleaved woodland are found in this area, including larger woodlands at Smidmore Copse, Bushymoor Copse and Shootash Copse. Oak is the most common tree species, with abundant Birch. Ash is uncommon and Field Maple is rare. Sweet Chestnut is also locally abundant and has often been planted as coppice. Other trees found in low frequencies include Holly, Whitebeam, Beech, Geum, and Rowan. Damper soils have Alder and Poplar. The shrub layers usually have abundant Hazel and Hawthorn. Ground flora includes Bluebell, Wood Anemone, Red Campion, Honeysuckle, Bramble, Woodruff, Wood Sorrel, Dog Violet, Wood Spurge, Twayblade and Greater Stitchwort. Typical orchids include Lesser Butterfly Orchid, Early Purple Orchid, Narrow-leaved Helleborine.
Several areas of important mesotrophic grasslands are found in this area, together with areas of damp pasture such as Sherfield English Fen. They are dominated by fine-leaved grasses such as Red Fescue, Crested Dogs-tail and Velvet Bent. Coarser grasses such as Cocksfoot and Yorkshire Fog are not so frequent. There is a variety of flowering plants that in some cases can comprise a substantial proportion of the herbage. These include White Clover, Red Clover, Birds-foot Trefoil, Knapweed, Bulbous Buttercup, Yarrow, Yellow Rattle, Selfheal and Oxeye Daisy. Typical orchids include Bee Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid, Early Purple Orchid.
Local Historical Influences
The majority of this area is comprised of large irregular assarts with wavy boundaries interspersed with stands of pre-1810 woodland. Within the northeastern and south western portion of the LCA is a band of more recent regular assarted fields. Medium irregular asserted fields are situated to the west. To the south and southwest there is an extensive area of small regular fields with wavy boundaries. All these field types indicate a period of woodland clearance for the purpose of developing and increasing the amount of available land for growing crops. The presence of small and medium sized assarts with wavy boundaries suggests a period of woodland clearance dating between the mid-medieval to early post medieval periods. The larger and more regular assarts are likely to be of a later date (18th and 19th century) with the deliberate retention of stands of pre 1810 woodland.
Some limited informal enclosure indicated by the presence of small fields and regular fields with wavy boundaries and limited parliamentary enclosure at the southern end of this character area may suggest the activity of one or more small landholders attempting farm rationalization during the 17th/18th and 19th centuries.
The principal village within this character area is Sherfield English. This is a dispersed settlement formed around two distinct nuclei strung out along Romsey Road (A27). The settlement is divided between a historic core with limited 19th century development which extends south away from the A27 along what appears to be a drove road (Steplake Road) and a largely 20th century development to the west.
Other settlements include East Wellow which is a small nucleated settlement. Further to this there are small clusters of dwellings as seen south of Wellow Wood where a line of two storey dwellings can be found.
The smaller assarted fields maintain a relatively densely concentrated pattern of farmsteads. Where these fields have been replaced by large irregular assarts and parliamentary field enclosures, this changes to a dispersed pattern of farmsteads within much larger territories.
Local Settlements and Features of Built Form
East Wellow: Common Edge Settlement Type
Sherfield English: Clay Lowland Settlement Type
Plaitford Green Common Edge Settlement Type