Turnastone Court is historically significant for its central role in an extensive water-meadow irrigation system designed in the late 16th century by pioneer agriculturalist Rowland Vaughan.

Vaughan pioneered the first ‘drownings’ in the country, and although the feature is not designated, it is a unique site of national importance according to some archaeologists. The idea for this water-meadow system came to Vaughan when he saw water spouting out of a mole hill on a river bank, and he noted how lush and green the grass was around the molehill.

Sluice restoration project Turnastone court farmSluice restoration project Turnastone court farmThe hand-built drownings created a slow but steady flow of river water right across the meadow. When the CRT saved Turnastone Farm, they were only as a broad ditch. The drench was dry as the Trenant brook short-cut to the River Dore and the sluices which operated the side channels had all but disappeared.

We have been working on projects to restore these sluices to allow the water-meadows to their former glory. Using local, sympathetic materials, our new sluices should enrich the area with new habitats for wildlife to return to. 

The fields at Turnastone are unique because they have not been ploughed for 400 years which means the channels left in the landscape by Vaughan’s drownings can still be seen. The fields even remained as water-meadows during the Second World War when all possible land was put to food production.

Discover more about the history and wildlife at the farm by visiting one of our Events

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