‘Least stressful spot in England’ is Shropshire’s newest Local Nature Reserve

A tranquil 25-acre patch of south Shropshire has been declared the county's newest Local Nature Reserve.

Pool Folly. Photo: Geoff Taylor
Pool Folly. Photo: Geoff Taylor

Rectory Wood and Field in Church Stretton was named the ‘least stressful spot in England’ by the Independent newspaper in 2009.

The picturesque expanse, nestled between the town and the wild expanse of the Long Mynd, has been formally declared a Local Nature Reserve by Church Stretton Town Council.

Formal notices have been posted for the proposal which is supported by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Shropshire Council and Natural England.

Janet Martin of the Rectory Wood and Field and Coppice Leasowes Interest Group said: "This is the culmination of four years of work led by the Rectory Wood and Field and Coppice Leasowes Interest Group in conjunction with the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.

"We’re looking forward to working with the community and the town council to manage it as a resource for recreation, relaxation and education whilst supporting and enhancing its wildlife and habitats."

The move recognises the value of the 25-acre site to both wildlife and residents alike and will protect and enhance the area’s natural heritage.

Rectory Wood and field was voted the ‘least stressful spot in England’ in a survey run by the Independent newspaper in 2009.

It is so named as it was formerly part of the grounds of the old rectory, and it’s believed that the design of Rectory Wood was influenced by Victorian landscape designer Capability Brown.

The tranquil pool and the remains of old buildings and pathways still lie hidden in the trees. It is a much-loved community asset that is used for local events, dog walking and as a gateway from the town to the Long Mynd and Carding Mill Valley.

Church Stretton Town Council has owned the green space since 2015 when Shropshire Council passed responsibility for its management to Church Stretton Town Council.

Church Stretton's mayor, councillor Andy Munro said: "The recognition of Rectory Wood and Field as a Local Nature Reserve is a great achievement and we’re especially grateful to the Rectory Wood and Field Interest Group and guidance from Shropshire Wildlife Trust for all their work in getting this through.

"The designation recognises the value of Rectory Wood and Field to our community and to our wildlife.

"It provides statutory protection within the planning system from future development.

"We’re delighted to be the only town in Shropshire with two local Natural Reserves declared by a town council, as this joins Coppice Leasowes which was designated in 1998.”

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