Landscape Character Assessment HertsDirect Environment
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©Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. Hertfordshire County Council, LA 076678, 2001

LOCATION

Woodhall Park and an area of wooded farmland to the north along the eastern flank of the Beane valley.

 
©Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. Hertfordshire County Council, LA 076678, 2001

LANDSCAPE CHARACTER

An upland arable landscape, more enclosed by woodland than the open area to the north and with very strong overlying planned parkland characteristics within Woodhall, which makes a strong statement, contained within its extensive brick wall yet visible over a wide area.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES

CMYK_The Broad Water_Woodhall Park
The Broad Water, Woodhall Park (P. Shears)

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assessment

PHYSICAL INFLUENCES

Geology and soils. Woodhall Park has deep,well-drained loamy soils over chalky till (Melford series in the south; Hornbeam 3 series in the north).

Topography. Undulating upland, sloping south-westwards towards the Beane.

Degree of slope. 1 in 30 to 1 in 45.

Altitude range. 60m to 100m.

Hydrology. The Dane End tributary flows in a south-easterly direction to the Beane, which lies parallel to the western edge of Woodhall Park. In the parkland the river has been dammed to create lakes, augmented by natural springs in the area to the south-east of Watton-at-Stone.

Land cover and land use. This wooded farmland consists of estate farmland and parkland and is in mainly arable cultivation with significant amounts of pasture, with a group of linked woodlands in the north-eastern part.

Vegetation and wildlife. Most of the woodland in this area is ancient woodland, with species including oak, holly, field maple, elder, ash and hawthorn. Hog's Wood is hornbeam coppice with oak standards, well managed and with a distinct banked edge. High Wood is designated SSSI for its ancient oak/hornbeam woodland and has had the same boundaries since the 16th century. New Wood is also ancient woodland. Species in the other woodlands are ash, oak and horse chestnut, with blackthorn and poplar. Field boundaries tend to be modern medium-height hawthorn. The permanent pasture contains many mature oaks and there are conifers within the Woodhall Park estate. The roadside verge along Walkern road, between Walkern and Watton-at-Stone, supports a rich mix of calcareous herbs and the adjacent arable fields are a rich area for arable weeds. In 1991 this verge was designated the county's first Heritage Roadside Verge. A very sharp hanger off the A602 above Watton-at-Stone, over the river valley, marks the transition between gravel and chalk.

HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL INFLUENCES

The remains of a Roman road which ran from Verulamium and passed through Watton-at-Stone can be seen in this area. A Saxon-Dane battle took place here in 1016, and its market is mentioned in Domesday. Woodhall (formerly known as Watton Woodhall) is a visually dominant parkland, walled and with a very conspicuous mansion set within open grassland slopes down to the dammed river Beane. The first record of a deer park here is 1645 and the herd was only disposed of in 1939. The park was created in the 18th century from farmland which was 'landscaped' by William Malcolm, who dammed the Beane to form a narrow sinuous lake with cascade, weir and sluice. It has planted parkland and pre-parkland trees, extensive boundary belts, a fine walled garden and a 1-hectare garden laid out by Brenda Colvin c.1958 near the converted stables. Much of the former parkland has been returned to agriculture but pre-parkland hedges and fossil roads are still visible.

Field pattern. Regular and small to medium in scale. Bardolphs, to the north of Woodhall Park, is a tenanted farm belonging to the estate.

Transport pattern. The A 602 trunk route, with its modern hawthorn hedges, wide banked verges and traffic, follows the eastern and northern boundaries of Woodhall Park. Walkern Road runs north/south below the plateau edge on the eastern valley slope.

Settlements and built form. 

OTHER SOURCES OF AREA-SPECIFIC INFORMATION

English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens.

Pevsner, N., rev. Cherry, B., Hertfordshire, Penguin (2000).

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evaluation

VISUAL AND SENSORY PERCEPTION

To the north potential views are filtered or blocked by woodland. From the outside this area is concealed by woodland from the north and by topography from the south. Views within the area are extensive, occasionally blocked locally by woodland. This is a medium-scale, contained landscape, visually unified and tranquil. Although there has been a considerable change from parkland to arable within Woodhall Park, the overall character is retained.

Rarity and distinctiveness. Woodhall Park is listed Grade II* in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

VISUAL IMPACT

There is little impact from built development in this area, other than from the A119.

ACCESSIBILITY

Footpaths are limited and occasionally unmarked, with some along farm tracks and some lost.

COMMUNITY VIEWS

The large parkland of Woodhall is regarded as distinctive (C).

LANDSCAPE RELATED DESIGNATIONS

Approximately 50% of Woodhall Park is a designated Landscape Conservation Area.

Woodhall Park is Grade II* listed by English Heritage

 
CONDITION
Land cover change: localised
Age structure of tree cover: mature
Extent of semi-natural habitat survival: widespread
Management of semi-natural habitat: good
Survival of cultural pattern: intact
Impact of built development: low
Impact of land-use change: low
ROBUSTNESS
Impact of landform: dominant
Impact of land cover: dominant
Impact of historic pattern: continuous
Visibility from outside: open
Sense of enclosure: unified
Visual unity: open
Distinctiveness/rarity: rare/unique

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guidelines

STRATEGY AND GUIDELINES FOR MANAGING CHANGE: IMPROVE AND CONSERVE

CMYK_Watton-at-Stone Church
Watton-at-Stone church (P. Shears)

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