From pre-conquest times much of Allostock was heath land and dense woods, especially in the area of Rudheath Woods which were only “improved” in the 1800’s. However in the area of streams and Bradshaw Brook there is evidence that farming was successful from early times. There are still reminders of the medieval open fields divided into strips in the name Townfield Lane and some field names such as Round Butts. Occasionally the strips can still be seen on old pasture land although most were ploughed out with “farm improvements” during and after the war.
The process of improving newly claimed land was helped by the marling of land which is why our area has so many marl pits. Early in the C18th the cultivation of root crops revolutionalised farming by enabling stock to be kept through the winter in large numbers. In 1815 the Allostock Enclosure Award took in more previously “waste land”.
An area of the “wild wood” (Rudheath Woods or Shakerley Woods) where Boundary Barn now stands was “improved” by Thomas Oakes. There is an interesting picture of “before” (1854) and “after” (1862) and a poem about the “improvements” in the possession of Alan Blackhurst at Boundary Barn
The county of Cheshire has the densest pond landscape in lowland Britain. The principle reason for this is the underlying clay, known as ‘marl’. When spread on agricultural land marl reduces acidity and increases fertility, so marl was a valuable resource in historical times before chemical fertilisers were widely available, and the practice of digging and spreading marl was widespread.
Agricultural activity and extraction of sand and clay for bricks have created a sequence of field ponds or marl pits in the region.