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Styal, the home of Cheshire's very own Stonehenge

PUBLISHED: 16:59 22 November 2011 | UPDATED: 19:19 07 January 2018

Farmer Alan Gardiner, front, with Ryan Dawson and Barnaby O’Brien from King’s Grove School, Crewe, and Neil Clark, of Natural England, at the reinstated Styal Henge stone circle

Farmer Alan Gardiner, front, with Ryan Dawson and Barnaby O’Brien from King’s Grove School, Crewe, and Neil Clark, of Natural England, at the reinstated Styal Henge stone circle

Schoolchildren can now see Cheshire's own version of Stonehenge and experience farm life in Styal PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

Styal Henge stone circleStyal Henge stone circle

An historic stone circle in Styal modelled on the famous Stonehenge site has been restored. The landmark, nicknamed Styal Henge, at Oak Farm on the National Trust’s Styal Estate, has been pinned to prevent the stones from toppling over.

The restoration is at the heart of a new project designed to give school children a taste of farm life.

The first pupils to visit the site, on historic parkland at Oak Farm in Styal, were from King’s Grove High School in Crewe. Students Ryan Dawson and Barnaby O’Brien officially opened the farm along with farmer Alan Gardiner, the tenant at Oak Farm. The idea is to help local youngsters understand more about farming and the history of the area.

Alan said: ‘We are delighted to open the farm up to school groups: it is a chance for children to find out how a working farm operates. They will be able to see our herd of Herefords, which we purchased last year to coincide with a scheme to reintroduce traditional grazing on the farm.

Alan Gardiner, left,speaking about the Styal Henge project to invited guestsAlan Gardiner, left,speaking about the Styal Henge project to invited guests

They can also learn about the work we are doing to encourage farmland birds including the lapwing.

‘We’ll show them the historic features of the farm such as Styal Henge, and tell them about the history of the area. We also plan to offer these visits to children further afield in more deprived areas. We feel it is a valuable experience for all children, whether they live in the town or country.’

The project has been made possible by a Higher Level Stewardship Agreement, put in place by Natural England, and aims to conserve the biodiversity and environmental heritage on the farm.

As part of the Natural England scheme an obelisk, thought to have been used as a line of sight for an observatory located on another holding, has also been restored along with an unusual livestock underpass once used by cattle to get from one side of the farm to the other.

The underpass had fallen into disrepair but has now been cleared of rubble, iron stock control gates have been replaced and surplus stone from the repairs has been used to make route markers. All the restoration work was done using traditional methods by local craftsmen, stonemasons Stepping Stones and Broadbent’s Wrought Ironwork.

Phil Chesters, adviser with Natural England said:‘The agreement is helping the historic and environmental features of Oak Farm to be safeguarded for future generations. Opening the farm up to school groups is a great opportunity for children to experience life on a farm, learn where their food comes from and how the land is managed.’

Oak Farm is not currently open to the public.

For information about organising school trips visit cwr.naturalengland.org.uk

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