Sandy Dell & Quarry Open Space

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HCC Site ID: 1659 Parish: Purbrook
Designations: SINC Area: 1.4 ha
Access: Public Access Ownership: Public Open Space; Havant Borough Council

Location and site

Sandy Dell and Quarry Open Space are two small green areas situated and surrounded by an urban development in the area of Purbrook in Hampshire.
Sandy Dell is bordered on the east and north by Sandy Brow and to the west by Fir Copse Road. The southern boundary of Sandy Dell, also the northern boundary of Quarry Open Space is Privet Road and the eastern boundary of Quarry Open Space is The Thicket with the western boundary being Widley Gardens. the southern edge of Quarry Open Space back on to gardens in the urban development.
Purbrook is a village and local government subdivision of Hampshire on the southern outskirts of Waterlooville, just north of the Portsmouth City boundary and approximately 3.5 km west by north of Havant. (Vision of Britain, OS 2000)

Steps leading from the higher grassy level to the central wooded area in Sandy Dell

Steps leading from the higher grassy level to the central wooded area in Sandy Dell

Historic development

Sandy Dell and Quarry Open Space were originally within the ancient Royal Hunting Forest of Bere – Portchester. The Lowland Mosaic Medium Scale Wooded landscape formed the core of the Forest established in the 11th century. The Forest of Bere, described by Preston and Wallis (2006) as Hampshire’s finest historic landscape, was the last Forest in Hampshire and almost the last in England to be disbanded in 1810 and in1812, was taken out of Forest Law.
Mapping at that time showed the area to be a mixture of wood, Heath, rough grassland and marsh. (Hampshire County Council 2012).

Peter Taylor, a silversmith by trade who became rich as a result of the Seven Years War returned to England from Germany in 1763, purchased an estate in Somerset and also at Purbrook that became the grounds of the first Purbrook Park House.

The name Purbrook, named for the stream on the southern fringes of the forest, comes from the Saxon words Pucan broc, meaning the brook of the water spirit. (Lambert 2017)

Sandy Dell lies approximately 300 yards North East of that original house, described as ‘an elegant mansion’. Taylor improved the site at great expense. (History of Parliament online 2017, Hampshire Gardens Trust (HGT) Research 1996). Taylor died in 1777 and by 1807, the estate was owned by Admiral George Keith Elphinstone, GCB, 1st Viscount Keith who devoted much of his retirement to improving Purbrook Park Estate and his other estate in Scotland. (Artware Fineart 2017).

The house, now Purbrook Park School, was rebuilt in 1839 by John Deverell and the estate stayed in the Deverell family until 1919 when it was acquired by Maurice Hill who sold the Parkland for development. In 1924 the house and surrounding 3 acres were purchased by Hampshire County Council. (Purbrook Park School 2017, HGT Research 1996). Havant Council bought Sandy Dell in 1963 for open space on a purchase order after refusing planning position. Land on the other side of Privet Road was purchased in 1968, also under a purchase notice.

In the Great Britain Ordnance Survey (OS) 6 inch series 1840-1960, the area now known as Quarry Open Space is shown as a sand pit to the east of Purbrook Park House and south of a marked lane. To the north of the lane is a strip of woodland from south to north corresponding to the wooded area in Sandy Dell. There is virtually no change in the 1898 and the 1909 maps. However, by 1933 urban development has enclosed both Quarry Open Space and Sandy Dell. The lane between Quarry Open Space was named Privet Copse Road and later renamed Privet Road (National Library of Scotland, Maps 2017).

Current description

Owl box high in the branches of a tree in Sandy Dell

Owl box high in the branches of a tree in Sandy Dell

Both Sandy Dell and Quarry Open Space are a green oasis providing a wildlife haven within a heavily built up area.

Sandy Dell has three distinct areas. At the eastern side is a grassy area adjacent to Sandy Brow where there are paths and a seat. Substantial steps with a handrail lead down to the lower middle area of woodland comprising mature trees and shrubs with pathways through the area. Within this area is a lower sunken area. To the western boundary is a lower grassy area, separated from the woodland by a small stream. A bridge over the stream connects the middle and lower areas.

Quarry Open Space consists of an upper grassy area towards the eastern boundary with some mature trees adjacent to Privet Road and bounded with mature trees on the west and south. There is a central lower sunken level.

Both Sandy Dell and Quarry Open Space appear to be reasonably well managed, provided with nature boards, adequate litter bins and seating. The woodland areas could tend to become overgrown but a local environmental group is very active in the conservation and maintenance of the site and has removed Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and planted the native species (Hyacinthoides non-scripta). They have also cleared invasive species such as Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria) and Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). (PAWARA Environmental Group, 2017) The pathways are well maintained. There is also evidence of the encouragement of wildlife, an owl box being seen in one of the mature trees.

The previous HGT report in 1996 suggested Sandy Dell may qualify for SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) status. Sandy Dell was noted as having SINC status in a Havant Borough Townscape, Landscape and Seascape Character Assessment published in 2007 (Havant Borough 2007).

Summary and significance

This community area is well used by walkers and dog walkers and is an oasis within an urban area that can enhance the health and well being of all those who use it. Ecologically, this site is an important haven for wildlife having many mature trees and providing habitats for birds and small animal species. It has been designated SINC status and is a tiny fragment from a previous important estate and medieval forest.

HGT Research: Summer 2000, update August 2017


Artware Fineart accessed October 2017
Hampshire County Council (2012) Integrated Character Assessment – Forest of Bere East accessed October 2017
Hampshire Gardens Trust Research (1996) archived material and at accessed October 2017
Havant Borough (2007) Townscape, Landscape and Seascape Character Assessment accessed October 2017
Lambert T (2017) A brief history of Purbrook and Widley, Waterlooville accessed October 2017
NLS (National Library of Scotland) – accessed October 2017
Ordnance Survey (2000) Street Atlas, South Hampshire, pp 134
PAWARA (Purbrook and Widley Area Residents Association Environment Group accessed October 2017
Preston E, Wallis S (2006) The Forest of Bere, Hampshire’s Forgotten Forest, Halsgrove Discover Series, Devon pp11 – 28 ISBN 9 782841 145167
Vision of Britain, accessed October 2017

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Purbrook Public Access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
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