Landscape Character

 

Although Tattenhall lies on the Cheshire Plain there are substantial areas of upland such as the Bickerton and Peckforton Hills which form an impressive backdrop to the Parish. The landscape is heavily influenced by the thick layer of glacial deposits and is cut only be the three watercourses flowing through the Parish.

The land is dominated by medium sized pastoral fields that in some cases still exhibit the historic ridge and furrow (butts and reans) of an earlier agricultural age. The rectilinear field boundaries are defined by hedges, mainly of hawthorn and blackthorn, which are interspersed with a large number of oak trees.

As modern agriculture practices were introduced after the middle of the last century, many hedgerows have been removed to increase field size, often leaving the hedgerow trees intact in the middle of open fields giving the false impression of a ‘parkland’ landscape.

The large number of hedgerow trees make the Parish seem more wooded than is actually the case. Of all the counties in England, Cheshire is one of the least wooded and the Parish of Tattenhall is no exception to this. Traditionally the Parish was characterized by broad-leaved woodland blocks of around one hectare in size. These wooded areas were once managed as fox coverts by local landowners. With the decline in fox hunting, however, these small woodland fragments have become increasingly dilapidated although they still provide an important habitat more many species of plant and animal.

Typical Design of a Marl Pit

Apart from the three water courses, the dominant wetland feature in the Parish are the in-field ponds. Few fields in the Parish do not contain a pond and, although they are not natural features, they are significant biodiversity hotspots. Their origin goes back to the late 18th century when mineral manure (marl) was dug out and spread on the surrounding land to improve soil fertility. These ‘marl pits’ soon became flooded and, because of their clay base, held water permanently. In later years, with the growth of the dairy industry, they have provided a valuable source of drinking water for livestock.

Of the three watercourses all drain from the Sandstone Ridge. The rate of flow varies throughout the year with peak flows normally recorded between January and March.   At this time of the year they often breach their banks and flood the surrounding fields. In some years floodwater stays for several weeks due to the compacted clay soils that do not allow the water to drain freely.

Flooding has occasionally been recorded in Tattenhall as both the Mill Brook and Keys Brook flow through or adjacent to the main area of settlement in the Parish.

 

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