|LCT6 Enclosed Chalk and Clay Woodland||
LCA6C Little Somborne Wooded Downs
Little Somborne Wooded Downs forms a discrete block of chalk downland landscape that is distinguished by its rolling landform and extensive cover of woodland, with contrasting open areas of arable farmland. Towards the western edge of the area, along the edge of the River Test valley, Little Somborne Wooded Downs becomes more complex with a higher incidence of smaller pasture fields, farmsteads and parks associated with large country houses. A scarp which is mainly wooded with a small amount of scrub and grassland lies east of Woolbury Hill Fort.
Little Somborne Wooded Downs lies south and east of Stockbridge, to the south of the A30 up to Brockley Warren and straddling the B3049 until this road leaves the Borough. The eastern boundary is formed by the Borough boundary. The southern boundary runs along the southern edge of Winter Down Copse, North Park Wood and Marsh Court. The western boundary abuts LCA 5B Middle Test Valley Floor just above the flood plain.
Local Physical Influences
Geology and Soils: Upper Chalk with very small patches of Clay with Flints above Stockbridge.
Landform: Sloping landform, either fairly steeply to the River Test valley floor or more gently southwards to the King’s Somborne tributary. The area has a number of wooded scarps such as at Woolbury, New Farm, North Park Wood. The area has some of the higher ground in the Borough and Woolbury Hill is a local landmark.
Drainage: the area drains into the River Test and King’s Somborne tributary with an absence of streams and waterbodies.
Local Biodiversity and Vegetation Pattern
There are some open arable areas, but there is more of an occurrence of woodland and hedgerows.
The hedgerow structure is relatively intact and links with areas of ancient semi-natural woodland. The woodlands tend to be mainly small copses and game spinneys. Most of the ancient semi-natural woodland is dominated by Ash with some Oak, where the presence of Oak indicates patches of more acidic drift in the soils. Frequent tree species are Field Maple and Yew and other trees found in lower frequencies include Lime, Hornbeam and Elm. The shrub layers are generally composed of Hazel, Elder, Blackthorn, Dogwood, Spindle and Privet. Typically Hazel was planted as a coppice crop. Ground flora includes Dogs Mercury, with Bluebells, Enchanters Nightshade, Arum Lily, Early Dog Violet, Yellow Archangel, Sanicle, Moschatel, and Pignut. Wetter areas often have dense covers of Ransoms/Wild Garlic. Typical orchids include Early Purple Orchid, Twayblade Birds-Nest Orchid.
Stockbridge Down is a well known area of chalk grassland with a typical rich mixture of grasses and herbs characteristic of a vegetation with a long history of grazing. The grasslands are dominated by fine-leaved grasses such as Sheep’s Fescue and Red Fescue with Velvet Bent, and there is a variety of flowering plants that comprise a substantial proportion of the herbage, these include Salad Burnett, Selfheal, Birds-Foot Trefoil, Harebells, Lady’s Bedstraw, Devils-Bit Scabious. Less frequent plants include Fairy flax, Gentian, Eyebright, Kidney Vetch and Stemless Thistle. Stockbridge Down is also noted for its rich invertebrate populations particularly its butterflies.
Local Historical Influences
Little Somborne Wooded Downs has been extensively developed most probably during the 19th century with the construction of parliamentary field enclosures both on the valley side of the River Test and on the uplands around Stockbridge Down. These upland parliamentary field systems surround an area of regular assarted fields and assarted pre-1810 woodland.
Stockbridge Down, managed and maintained by the National Trust, retains an extensive series of earthworks including three Bronze Age burial mounds and a series of earthen banks which may relate to prehistoric field systems or a settlement. Woolbury Iron Age Hill Fort survives immediately to the north east of Stockbridge Down.
Very little formal settlement occurs within this character area although a portion of 19th and 20th century development at the eastern end of Stockbridge does extend up the slope of the river valley into this area. This represents later medieval development away from the historic core of Stockbridge focused upon the principal roads into and out of the settlement.
The farmsteads within this area are found within the areas of 19th century parliamentary enclosure. No farmsteads appear to be located within either the area of regular assarted fields south of Stockbridge Down or within the bands of woodland and copse, which extend through this area. The farmsteads are generally well dispersed.
Features of Built Form
Traditional building styles are brick and brick and flint walls with clay tile roofs.
Few comments were made on this area. There was however concern about the popularity of the area for recreation, with particular pressure on Stockbridge Down and Woolbury Rings. The tranquillity of the area was considered its most important characteristic.
Remoteness and Tranquillity
The enclosed woodland character, the sparsely settled nature and winding network of rural lanes, all contribute to a sense of quiet remoteness and tranquillity.
Undulating chalk downland topography rising to local landmark at Stockbridge Down and Woolbury Hill
Large areas of woodland, semi - natural and plantation
Long sinuous wooded scarps
Thick shelterbelts and hedgerows of varying thickness
Extensive parliamentary enclosure of fields
Survival of prehistoric landscape elements upon Stockbridge Down
Farmsteads and large houses associated with the River Test valley
Dispersed farmsteads on higher ground.
The Bronze Age burial mounds on Stockbridge Down and the Iron Age defences of Woolbury Hill Fort nearby are potentially under threat from any large-scale public access to the National Trust owned land on Stockbridge Down.
Retention of existing levels of tranqillity.
Little Somborne House Grade II Listed Building
Marsh Court 1901-05 Garden.Listed as Grade II* on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Grade I Listed Building
Parnholt Wood Post-1810 park
Woolbury Hill Fort Scheduled Monument
Stockbridge Down - Unimproved calcareous grassland, scrub and broadleaved woodland
Brockley Warren - Unimproved calcareous grassland, scrub and broadleaved woodland
15 SINCs, mostly ancient semi-natural woodland, with some agriculturally unimproved grassland and sites which support an outstanding assemblage of species