Stapleford green spaces
Stapleford Recreation Ground
The recreation ground, which includes the Jubillee Pavilion, is located on Haverhill Road.
Stapleford Chalk Pit – or THE PUBLIC STONE, CHALK, GRAVEL AND CLAY PIT (Charity No 268975) the name by which it has been registered as a Charity, with the Parish Council as Trustee. The pit was formed by the extraction of ‘clunch’ used, in the past, as a building material in local houses and even the Cambridge Colleges.
The Parish Pit is a miniature nature reserve maintained by the Friends of Stapleford Pit. The group is led by Mary Cooper. Access is by a track from Haverhill Road next to Gog Magog Cottage.
The pit is a site of significance in the wider landscape as it is one of many former chalk quarries in villages across the county, that are now a network of chalk grassland fragments. Closer to home are the Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits nature reserve, Roman Road SSSI, Magog Down, Wandlebury Country Park and Fleam Dyke SSSI. Together these grassland sites form a series of stepping stones to enable species to move freely across the landscape. As climate change has an effect on our wildlife, these pathways are becoming ever more important to maintaining robust wild populations.
In 1960 the County Naturalist’s Trust began to manage the pit in conjunction with the Parish Council. For a period a volunteer group from the Wildlife Trust, funded by the Parish Council, took care of the management of the site, but this ceased with the result that that scrub encroached extensively on the site. Since 2013, a small group, Friends of Stapleford Parish Pit, have been working hard clearing this scrub to encourage the chalk grassland species and progress towards achieving County Wildlife Site status. Around 70 wildflower species have been recorded since 2015 which falls short of previous totals, records starting in 1992.
To gain the status of “rich flora of chalk grassland” requires the site to have ‘frequent numbers of six or more strong calcareous grassland indicator species.’ The pit has four strong calcareous indicator species, Common Milkwort (Polygala vulgaris), Common Restharrow (Knautia arvensis), Field Scabious (Ononis repens) and Wild Basil (Clinopodium vulgare) and a number of others that are present but not in high enough frequency.
Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire Wildlife Trusts have been advising the group, and a management plan drawn up. The Friends of the Pit welcome more volunteers to help in the restoration, and maintenance, of this precious spot in our village. If you are interested in joining the work parties or would like more details about the pit, phone Mary Cooper Tel. 01223 842127
The Magog Trust
The Magog Down is an area for restoration, conservation and informal recreation on the Gog Magog Hills just south of the boundary of the City of Cambridge, off the A1307 road to Linton and on Haverhill Road, Stapleford.
Magog Down is privately owned and managed by the Magog Trust who bought it in 1989. It covers 163.5 acres of previously intensively farmed arable land. It is freely open to all, all year round.
Wandlebury Country Park
Wandlebury Country Park offers more than eight miles of wonderful walks through mature woods, meadows and chalk grassland areas. There is always something to do at Wandlebury. Stroll round the park at a leisurely pace, taking in the circular historic Iron Age Hillfort – a Scheduled Ancient Monument steeped in myth and legend.
Pop along for a picnic and wonder at the beauty of the place with its diverse flora and fauna and its noble highland cattle. Take part in events and activities aimed at people of all ages. Visit Wandlebury and you’ll understand why the site was given a prestigious Green Flag Award – recognising it as one of the best green spaces to visit in the country.
Wandlebury, an ancient monument, is an Iron-Age hill fort, originally built with a steep-sided ditch in the third century B.C. and rebuilt with a double bank in the first century A.D. Evidence was found in excavations in 1995-6 of settlement in the area even before the fort was first built. The earthworks were extensively landscaped as an ornamental feature in the 18th Century by Lord Godolphin, as they lay in the park surrounding the house and stables which he began to build in 1729. The family inherited the Dukedom of Leeds in 1859.
In 1895 they sold the Wandlebury estate and it was eventually it was purchased in 1904 by Harold William Stannus Gray. Sir Harold died in 1951 and his wife two years later. Their son, Terence, presented the hill fort to the Cambridge Preservation Society in 1954. The Society at the same time bought the surrounding 38.67 hectares.
The estate and Wandlebury Ring have since then been owned and managed by the Cambridge Preservation Society and are freely open to the public all year. The 18th century house was demolished in 1955, but the ditch and ramparts of the Iron-Age earth works are still clearly defined. Under the archway of the old stable block is buried the Godolphin Arabian which died at the age of 29 in 1753. It was one of three stallions from which most modern thoroughbreds are descended.