Posted by: lensweb | July 16, 2014

Manor Farm and Toton Fields Nature Reserves

Jul 14 Manor Farm and Toton Fields Nature Reserves.  Two of our local nature reserves.Also of historic interest.See site of Manor House and two water mills recorded in Domesday Book.

Meet  at Manor Farm Recreation Ground car park. Turn left off Nottm Road at Toton Corner traffic lights (Manor Farm Pub), car park on left just before houses begin.

Grid ref SK 504 343

Leader Norman Lewis CBE

The sky was dark as I walked the familiar path to Toton Park. To the background of whites and the clunk of bowls, the sky brightened as Norman Lewis transformed the neatly mown tennis court mound to a past age of manor houses, mills and willow beds. A large cross marked the spot of scraping and digging where an archaeological dig had taken place. The Friends of Toton Fields had obtained a £47000 lottery grant to involve the local community in a rediscovery of the past. Areas I had walked daily over the years, which were once just paths and brambles became ancient ridge and furrow, 3 mills with associated ponds, leats and races, and a moated manor house mentioned in the Domesday Book.  This was on the site of Manor Farm which was demolished 60 years ago. Finds included an elaborate key, a 15th century silver coin and an earring.You can read all about it on the website More local volunteers are being recruited for the further stages of the dig which is being carried out by the Trent Peak Archaeological Society.


Then we turned to Natural History. Crossing Portland Meadow where Brian Parkes counted 108 ringlet butterflies last week, to the bridge over the River Erewash. After flooding in Long Eaton in 1932 the river was canalised and the flow divided this was to move flood water on quickly. Soon the Environment Agency will start work to restore a more natural, meandering flow to the river and restore ponds on the Long Eaton and Toton side of Manor Farm. These will hold the water back to allow drainage to take place and prevent flooding further along the water course.

Pausing to admire a natural meander of the river with a steep crumbling clay eroded bank facing to shallow accreted gravel beds we were unlucky not to see a kingfisher, there are several pairs nesting on the river. 103 birds and 550 plants species have been recorded from the local area, which includes Toton Sidings. Fragments of the basket osier beds (Salix repens) remain. These were called selictions in the Domesday Book and were still being run commercially by William Scaling, basket maker to Queen Victoria, at the turn of the 19th century.

Meander IMG_5565

Along the river were ripe yellow cherry plums and also black poplars. Walking gently uphill a 2m strip of grass verge had been scarified and seeded with wildflowers by the group to give a colourful display of purple knapweed, yellow bird’s foot trefoil, white wild carrot, spiny teasel and many other flowers. There was a warm pleasant breeze at the top of the hill as we looked out over the maroon train caterpillars on the multiple tracks at the busy sidings. We could see South to Charnwood and the perched church at Breedon on the Hill, NW to Sandiacre Mills, Stoney Clouds and beyond Willington to Staffordshire. Many of the power stations which used to be in view are no longer active, Derby, Willington, Wilford, Castle Donington amongst others.  Amongst the wildflowers tumbling over the edge were many spherical flower heads of crow garlic.

Birch and ash trees have sprung up all over the sidings which had flowered so magnificently following clearance. It is unlikely there will be any management while HS2 is under consideration. Hungarian bent has spread rapidly and there were a few flowers of white melilot and great mullein.

After hearing about the hard work carrying out the archaeological dig I was intrigued to find out that one of our members has one of the original mill stones from Manor Farm in the front garden!

Marion Bryce 16 July 2014


  1. A beautifully written description thank you. We are so lucky having such places close to us. I enjoyed the evening.


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