Torpel Manor Field
Torpel Manor Field, is both a County Wildlife Site (rare Neutral Grassland) and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The grassy meadow hides a rich history from Roman times, to a Norman castle, then a medieval manor and settlement with royal connections. The story of Torpel has recently been brought to light via a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project.
There is full public access, and a visitor centre housing the site interpretations, with parking, catering and toilet facilities suitable for schools (all Key Stages) and any other age-group visitors.
Visiting Torpel Manor Field
Torpel Manor Field is located on the B1443, just North of Helpston Village in the direction of Stamford. The postcode is PE6 7DU
Access by Foot The Torpel Way Footpath (from Peterborough to Stamford) crosses the field.
Access By Bus Delaine Service 201 (Peterborough to Stamford) stops at the Helpston Garden Centre 100m from the field.
Group Visit There is a wide and safe entrance off the B1443 and limited parking for cars and minibus on site. Coaches should park in Helpston Village.
Individually by car Please park in Helpston Village and walk up West Street to the pedestrian entrance at the West Street/King Street junction. Please do not park on the B1443 or in the site entrance reversing out is dangerous.
Facilities The Cabin comprises a large group room,with chairs and folding tables, mains electric sockets and solar PV lighting, plus a kitchen with sink, food preparation area, hot and cold water, kettles etc. There are two compostable loos; the whole exterior area is laid to slabs and is wheelchair accessible (although a small ramp leads into the cabin). A projector can be provided.
The field is a large uneven meadow area of 3.5 hectares, with access paths. However as a nature reserve it is NOT a park, so there are nettles, thistles, trees, banks, rabbit holes and grazing sheep so at least the field is fenced and fully secure!
The cabin is available to hire for visits and suitable community use, please contact, Mike Clatworthy, 01780 764062 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A booking form and conditions for community use can be found here
An enquiry form for school use can be found here
Resources for schools
Schools are welcome and encouraged to take advantage of the rich historical background and natural history of Torpel. There are opportunities to assist delivery of elements of the National Curriculum at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 – click here to see how Torpel could be used to deliver parts of the History National Curriculum at Key Stages 1,2 and 3
A good starting point for all is The Story of Torpel booklet suitable for KS1, KS2 and KS3. This is available from the Langdyke Trust, in association with group bookings, or at the John Clare Cottage and Annakin Gallery in Helpston, price £3.00. Click here to view The Story of Torpel booklet in pdf form.
A second resource is the materials for the Trail which has been marked out on the Torpel Field. Printed back to back and folded the first two files make a short A5 size trail leaflet. Outside pages | Inside pages
For the complete story, here are the full trail notes.
However for extension and older students there is more as follows.
The Torpel Timeline
A full timeline can be downloaded here.
Banners A series of banners developing some important historical stages of the field. These banners are on display in the windows of the cabin and can be downloaded using the following links:
Display Boards A series of panels depicting key historical activities of Torpel and the surrounding area, These panels are on display in the cabin and can be downloaded using the following links:
1066 and all that After the Norman Conquest | Animals at Torpel | Balancing the Books | Crop growing at Torpel | Enclosure of the Open Fields | Open Fields and Ploughing | Saxon | Society at Torpel Manor | Torpel House | Torpel’s Roman Heritage
KS2 and KS3 Archaeology. The HLF project also supported an archaeological investigation of the site by specialists from the University of York using non-invasive techniques (as the “geo-phys” of Timeteam). The York University project record can be accessed here.
The main results to date have been a laser-driven high resolution topographical survey (2012), magnetometry survey (2013) and resistivity survey (2014). Full reports of the 2012 and 3 activities have been lodged with English Heritage and the Peterborough Historic Environment Record (HER) and will be available here shortly.
The Historical Record. Torpel has a rich written recorded history. Teachers wishing to explore deeper are welcome to make contact with Mike Clatworthy and his team at Torpel cabin who will be pleased to advise on projects and source materials for students carrying out local history study .
All Key Stages – Natural History Torpel Manor Field is a County Wildlife Site. It is an example of now rare “unimproved neutral pasture” grassland between the limestone hills and the alluvial river lands, which grew over the abandoned settlement. It is currently in recovery after many years misuse for intensive horse grazing.
Looking after Torpel
In some ways, looking after Torpel is a frustrating dance between competing interests.
- English Heritage have the strongest sway because the site has Ancient Monument status – so no digging holes – even for fenceposts – without permission.
- Then the DEFRA Higher Level Stewardship prescriptions describe an annual outcome with permitted (and forbidden) actions.
- Lastly it is also a County Wildlife Site so Natural England have a say (and advise DEFRA and EH), as theoretically do Peterborough City Council.
Luckily time moves slowly on the site, and provided the few precipitate actions needed are justified (as well as agreed and permitted!), some slow progress is made.
Torpel field was completely enclosed by a Cornbrash Limestone wall in medieval times. About 25 per cent of the wall remains, even if not full height. The History and Archaeological group have recovered stone and rebuilt the wall to “original specification” in the far corner near the path to Ashton. Another long task to completion!
With the cabin (and loos, water, electricity) on site, plus the human history and archaeology underfoot, Torpel has the most developed potential for outreach and direct community engagement – through LCT’s Heritage and Archaeology Group and other local organisations For example it hosts “Story of Torpel” presentations to such as U3A groups, and a running group use it as “basecamp” occasionally, so please make contact if you have any relevant ideas and needs.