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Historic Background
An inland character area lying within the parish of Slebech. It comprises fields and farms. During the medieval period the area belonged to the Knights Hospitaller Manor of Slebech (centred on their Commandery at Slebech Church). The farm Clerkenhill may have derived its name, which was recorded in 1577, from the brethren. High and Lower Toch farms appear to represent a single earlier holding, mentioned in Slebech records from the 14th century, which suggests that Clerkenhill, on higher ground, may have previously been open land. Cumberland farm is later still, dating from the 18th century. The pattern of large, regular enclosures appears in general to be late, and post-medieval in its present form. The Slebech, Newton and Minwere parish tithe map of 1847 shows this area exactly as it is today. The main medieval east-west route, turnpiked in the 18th century and now the A40, passes through the area. During the First Civil War, in 1645, Parliamentary and Royalist troops clashed at Colby Moor, just northeast of this area.

Base map reproduced from the OS map with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Crown Copyright 2001.
All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Licence Number: GD272221


Description and essential historic landscape components
Toch historic landscape character area lies across a low, rounded ridge that achieves heights of over 80m above sea level. The A40 runs along the crest of the ridge and bisects this area. Dispersed farms and fields characterise this area. Farmhouses are mostly 19th century in date, stone-built with slate roofs, and in the Georgian vernacular tradition – i.e. symmetrical positioning of windows, chimneys etc. Older farm buildings consist of one or two ranges, again stone-built with slate roofs. High Toch farmhouse, and a nearby milepost, are Grade II listed. Large modern agricultural buildings attached to some of the farms are a feature of the landscape. Other dwellings, in addition to the farmhouses, comprise dispersed 19th century houses alongside the A40. Fields vary in size, but most approximate to a rectangular shape. Boundaries are earth banks topped with hedges. Most of the hedges are in good condition, but a significant number are becoming overgrown and support small trees, and a small number are derelict and are replaced by wire fences. The overgrown hedges in conjunction with scrubby woodland on some steep slopes and in hollows lend a wooded aspect to parts of the area. Agricultural land-use is improved pasture with a little arable. Archaeological sites do not characterise this area, and consist of bronze age find spots and an undated earthwork.

The definition of this area is not good. Many of its historic landscape components are also found in neighbouring areas. Generally, however, to the south the landscape consists of woodland and estate farms and parkland, whilst elsewhere the field patterns, settlement pattern and buildings are slightly different.

Sources: Charles 1948; Charles 1992; Slebech, Minwere and Newton Parishes tithe map 1847