STRATTON          
             
  STRATTON          
  WRACKLEFORD          
  GRIMSTONE          
  ASH HILL          
 
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Stratton Village Green Information Board
Village Green Information Board
 
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VILLAGE GREEN INFORMATION BOARD
 
   
   
On Stratton Village Green there is an Information Board providing a wide range of facts about the Parish. The wording on the Board is reproduced below.
 
   
People have been living on the land in Stratton for over 5,000 years. The earliest record of Stratton (meaning 'the farm on the road') was the Saxon village but this can only be proved by a few pottery sherds and land boundaries which have survived. After the Norman Conquest Stratton was owned by Salisbury Cathedral and the land leased to a succession of tenants. Some of the open fields survived until 1895 when the last of the land was enclosed and sold freehold becoming the Wrackleford Estate.
 
   
On Grimstone Down an earlier settlement was occupied during the Iron Age and Roman periods. The name Grimstone was spelled 'Grimston' in medieval times and means 'the farm belonging to a man named Grim'.
 
   
Other ancient features in the Parish include Bronze Age burial mounds and the Roman road from Dorchester to Ilchester which passed across the valley. One notable tenant farmer, Angel Smith who lived in Stratton Manor House and died in 1626, was described as 'Lord of Stratton, 58 years'. One of his daughters married into the Grey family of Kingston Maurward.
 
   
The base of Jackmans Cross is near the crossing of bridleways on Grimstone Down. A bench and new stone Cross mark the Millennium. The story goes that Jackman was gibbeted near here for sheep stealing in medieval times. The landscape reflects sheep farming around here in the recent past. The Barns are mostly remembered in name only but 'Meaders' in Grimstone still survives. Dairying is now the major livestock activity, with cereal production in the large modern arable fields. Stratton and Grimstone Mills still have their wheels; Grimstone Mill being on a site which dates back to the 14th Century.
 
   
St Mary's Church; of Norman origin on a Saxon site was largely rebuilt in 1890/1. Thomas Hardy, then an architect, helped to preserve the 15th Century tower with its unique wooden staircase and the remains of a Preaching Cross in the Churchyard. The chancel was rebuilt by Alfred Pope in memory of his first wife at the same time.  
   
The Saxonfield housing development of 1999 is on the site of West Hall, the old Manor of Grimstone now demolished.
 
   
Three cottages made up the house known as 'Cowleaze'. Their land was enclosed in 1670. Church Farm was built in the 17th Century with later additions. The little cottage which has only in recent times been known as 'Plague Cottage' is similar in age. Others, notably 'John Lock's', 'May's', 'Chapel' and 'Rose and Ivy' cottages are typical flint and brick buildings of the early 19th Century.
 
   
Wrackleford House featured in 1669 as 'Ye farme of Wrackleford, belonging to the Pitt family. Subsequently Robert Pattison and one of his daughters, the Hon. Mrs. Jane Ashley-Cooper lived there. The Almshouses and the Church Institute (now the Old Village Hall) were built in her memory. Alfred Pope and succeeding generations of his family have made Wrackleford House their home since 1888.
 
   
The Toll Cottage, built 1798 stands where the main Turnpike Road from Maiden Newton to Dorchester branched to Winterborne Abbas at Brewers Ash. The Wiltshire, Somerset and Weymouth Railway came through the Parish in1856. Note the viaduct at Grimstone, designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and the remains of two stations at Grimstone and Ash Hill.
 
   
The houses at Ash Hill were built in 1950.  
     
   
Countryside and Wildlife
 
   
Stratton lies on the Upper Chalk geological layer. North of the railway line however, the Parish lies on the Middle Chalk. The reason for this inferred fault line running east-west through the area where the Upper Chalk has dropped from its previous level.
 
   
Fossils delineate the layers of the chalk. In Stratton the most likely fossils to be found are the heart-shaped sea urchins sometimes called 'Shepherds Crowns' plus the less easily defined sponges. They are often preserved in flint and are practically indestructible. The age range for the Chalk is about 85 to 95 million years. Small deposits of clay (of much younger age - only 50 million years), at Grimstone and Ash Hill were used for brickmaking.
 
   
The River Frome and the Wrackle stream for fringed with narrow belts of trees mainly Alders and Willows. The Wrackle is a 'winterbourne' as it only flows when the water table is high.
 
   
The waterways in the Parish attract mallard ducks and mute swans, provide feeding grounds and cover for grey herons, moorhens and even the little egret. The river is home to trout, otters and mink.
 
   
The range of invertebrate species is impressive. You may find water mites and spiders, water slaters, gnat and midge larvae, great diving beetles, underwater beetles, 'whirligigs', water boatmen, pond skaters, measurers, crickets, mayflies, dragonflies and damsel flies.
 
   
There are surviving sluice gates and channels for the old water-meadows system, which was a method used from the 18th to the mid-20th Century for flooding the fields in Spring for early growth of grass. When flooded naturally today these meadows attract large flocks of black-headed gulls. Water crowfoot, purple loosestrife and lady-smocks are found here. The slopes of the valley (Coombs) in the Parish are generally south facing. Hedgerows containing such species as hawthorn, elder, hedge maple, blackthorn, beech,hazel and ash emphasize the undulating nature of the area. One such hedgerow along the track ('The Run') from Stratton to Grimstone Down is continuous and was possibly established in Saxon times to denote a land unit. The hedgerows provide ahabitat for finches, sparrows, yellow-hammers and wrens with cow-parsley, and red & white campions at their base. Some of the Coomb sides are still permanent grassland and home to dogs-bit scabious, harebell, scarlet pimpernel and birds-foot trefoil and the dorset blue butterfly. Buzzards and kestrels may be seen as well as roe deer, rabbits and foxes. 'The Clumps' are a notable landmark of beech trees originally planted in 1830 by the Sheridan family of Frampton Court. Many other woodlands were planted in the late 19th Century to give cover for pheasants and are home to dog's mercury, cuckoo-pint, harts tongue fern and wood sorrel.