Chester Farm could be opened up to the public

Northamptonshire County Council are asking for the public's views on Chester Farm, near Irchester, as it bids to make the farm a 'unique heritage attraction.'
Northamptonshire County Council are asking for the public's views on Chester Farm, near Irchester, as it bids to make the farm a 'unique heritage attraction.'
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The county council has launched a project to open up a farm, with thousands of years of history on its doorstep and a Roman settlement below the ground, to the public in a bid to make it a unique heritage attraction.

Northamptonshire County Council are asking the public to complete a survey about their views on Chester Farm, near Irchester, as part of a project supported by Heritage Lottery Funding.

The farm, which is a Heritage site, provides evidence of thousands of years of human activity, from at least Mesolithic times to the present day.

The county council is aiming to develop the site as somewhere people can learn more about Northamptonshire’s history and heritage, alongside opportunities to join in educational or volunteering activities.

Cabinet member for customers and communities Councillor Heather Smith said: “The project aims to open up the site to the public so that everyone can benefit and learn from this hugely significant historical and archaeological asset which covers 2,000 years of history in one place.

“We want to hear people’s views about how they would like the site to be developed and the types of activities they would like to participate in and we will use this feedback to help us make plans for Chester Farm’s future.

“This stage of the project has been made possible thanks to initial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and as we move forward, we will be making a further bid for money to help support the development of the site into it a unique heritage attraction.”

The survey will gather feedback about how these plans can be achieved as well as asking people whether they would visit the site, what sorts of activities they might like to see happening and whether they might like to participate in volunteering activities.

Results from the survey will inform plans for the future of Chester Farm and will be used to help prepare a further bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The site includes traces of Iron Age enclosures and ancient field systems. Below ground there is extensive Roman settlement including a Roman walled town and recent excavation has shown that key elements of the town, such as roads, temples and other buildings, have survived. There was also medieval settlement on the site including the remains of the deserted village of Chester-by-the-Water.

The site includes a complex of farm buildings, dating from the 17th to the 20th century together with the remains of formal gardens, orchard and parkland. Extensive ironstone extraction took place in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and there are the remains of an ironstone tramway across the site.

To take part in the survey, people can visit www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/consultations. The consultation is open until February 18.