The Denmead Gap and open country north of the village
The Denmead gap separates the parish from the west of Waterlooville urbanisation. It runs from Forest Gate, in the north of the Parish along the east and curves round to the south side of the Parish boundary where it abuts Creech Woods, part of the ancient Forest of Bere. It covers the hamlets of Anmore and Soake. It also includes Furzeley Corner,the area of Denmead Parish centered on the junction of Newlands Lane, Furzeley Road and Sheepwash Lane, south of Denmead. The latter once was a thriving hamlet with its own Post Office and shop and its history can be traced back to the Magna Carta.
Although the fields forming the gap were relegated from a 'strategic' to a 'local' gap, Winchester's planning inspector strongly recommends that it remains as currently defined. He regards it as 'being essential to prevent the coalescence of expanding Waterlooville and nearby Denmead' and that 'using the edges of the defined settlement boundaries as the limit of the local gap is entirely logical.'
Landscape and shape of settlement
Many small streams drain into the watercourses that channel through the 'gap' as this is one of the lowest lying areas of Denmead. The Kings Pond plays an important role in the area's storm water management system. The Environment Agency has recently enlarged the old pond to prevent flooding. There is a delicately balanced high water table here that sits at the head of a river which eventually becomes the River Wallington.
Long slopes running down towards the village from the north, Creech woods in the southwest and Closewood in the southeast, give rise to run-off and water is channelled into these streams and which run through the fields and away from the inhabited areas.
The area has undulating fields, bordered in the south by one stream running from east to west, and cut through by another that flows from Kings Pond southwards which meets it at Sheepwash, the most southerly part of the parish.
The soil in the lower parts is clay. Above this is a gravel bed, part of which was taken to make the tracks into metalled roads in 1810. To the north there is evidence of the clay pits that once served the local brick industry.
Mature hedgerows with oak trees define the fields and there are small areas of woodland to the northwest at Anthill Common, and in the southeast, along Closewood Road. Some of these trees are very old and a poignant reminder that the Forest of Bere once extended over this area. A number of tree preservation orders exist here and include the hedgerows that define the fields within the gap to the southwest of the Hambledon Road. There are a number of tall fir trees, which were planted to mark the boundary of the Parish when it was established in 1880.
A few houses are scattered along the sides of the narrow winding roads, in a few cases set well back, and clustered in Anmore, Soak and Furzeley Corner.
Buildings and materials
Running north from Hambledon Road is Soake Road, perhaps providing named evidence of the watery nature of the gap. It has a small number of dwellings many of which are typical of the local brick and flint design although a few of the more modern buildings are of brick only or brick and timber. Their frontages are a variety of brick walls, hedging of various heights, railings or a combination of these.
On the south side of Anmore Road is a small modern development of a dozen or so houses that back on to the fields around King's Pond. At this point the houses of Mill Road, Mill Close and Maple Drive form the western edge of the gap.
Around Furzeley Corner dwellings are mostly modernizations of pre war holiday homes and farm cottages. They are constructed of brick and tiles. Most properties have mature hedgerows as boundaries.
To the north side of Anmore Road lie many of the Parish's older, listed buildings set among farms, most notably Rookwood, which boasts a Norman Hall with late Medieval and 16th century extensions and features.
There are other listed buildings dating from 17th, 18th and 19th centuries made of brick, flints, timber and infill, thatch and slates. These were farms and their outbuildings, which once encroached into the Forest of Bere. Most have 'private' drainage.
Spaces and boundaries
The Hambledon Road B2150 cuts straight through the ‘Gap’ from northwest to southeast. In contrast the rest of the roads are winding country lanes with narrow grass verges along most of them. They were mainly the boundaries set down during the enclosure Act of 1814 There are a few straight stretches but the majority are winding, with some sharp bends. The farm traffic uses these lanes to access and work the fields.
The hedges are mostly mature and contain many native trees and shrubs. Furze, a prickly shrub, can still be found in the hedges. This plant once was dominant in the area and gave its name to Furzeley Corner.
There are wild many flowers across the ‘Gap’, including bluebells, primroses, aconites, celandines, chalk orchids and wild daffodils, particularly in spring. Wild animals and birds live here. Badgers, deer, foxes rabbits, frogs, voles and snakes are common. Woodpeckers, cuckoos, thrushes, wrynecks swallows, owls, swifts, herons, redwings and snowy egrets have all been spotted recently. It's a corridor for wildlife.
The area provides mixed grazing land for horses, pigs, sheep and cattle.
Furzeley corner is a 'working area.' Examples include: a thriving golf course, small industrial units, a cattery, storage, fishing lakes, stables and farming. On the north side of the Hambledon road is Byng's Business Park. This is a small development that contains a number of business outlets with ample onsite customer parking. These all provide employment for local people. Many of the existing developments of small businesses providing jobs and houses are sympathetic to the area’s rural nature.
The gap is also characterised by its many narrow lanes with mature hedgerows, soft verges and deep ditches, making it unsuitable for heavy commuter traffic. Indeed, these lanes and their fields provide a strong contrast with nearby built-up areas and offer the opportunity for walking, exercising dogs and horses, village events and cycling.
Information and Photos provided by Paul Weston, Patricia Bailey, Barbara Newbury 05.02 06