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South Wingfield; Flooding of the Church and the Villages Beyond.

March 3rd, 2020 in featured by emily

A Way Forward.

Flooding from the Amber

When your parish church suffers such inundations on a regular basis there is naturally a worry. The River Amber running in spate and unable to pass under the road bridge overtops and floods the churchyard and All Saints itself. The village buries its loved ones in the churchyard and those bereaved hate to see their friends’ and relatives’ graves sink beneath a ‘tide’ of flood water.

Next-door to the graveyard is the community hall and car park which also suffer from flooding.

Current Situation.

The church (mainly 13th Century) is set on the floodplain of the River Amber, whilst the village is set up on the hillside looking over the river valley. This is somewhat unusual. The great house, Wingfield Manor (15th Century), was set up above the village itself. This setting of the church is hard to justify, away from the village centre unless more habitations were present historically or as it would appear the church is equidistant between the hamlet of Oakerthorpe and South Wingfield. This demonstrated by the C.1888 Ordnance Survey map below. The need to minister to both communities being likely.

 

Flooding from the missing ditch.

The churchyard is also flooded by field drainage coursed by the removal of a ditch along its western boundary and which bypasses a bund historically put in place to protect the church from the overtopping River Amber. The ditch needs to be replaced so it can drain as it did originally into the Oakerthorp Brook, located to the south.

To slow the River Amber so as to limit higher volumes of water passing South Wingfield and lesson risk of flooding downstream: a series of leaking dams should be considered allowing excess water to settle on rural floodplain which historically may be considered washlands, there may also be opportunities for the creation of new wetlands.

Such works would be attractive to wildlife, increasing the local habitat available.

Eastern drainage flows to the Oakerthorpe Brook that borders the riding and stable field after passing under the railway line. The brook enters the River Amber further to the south.

The western drainage is either the original route of the river or a leat designed to take flow from the River Amber following a level to a watermill, thence on to re-join the river just south of the Church Lane Holm Lane junction and at the end of the engineered channel of the River Amber where it runs by the side of Holm Lane.

The engineered river length along Holm Lane gives credence to the likelihood that the church stretch of river was man made to protect the mill. Further in the 1888 map of the river the church stretch is shown to be fed via a weir. This would have been a sluice maintained to take spate water away from the mill. The size of the bridge by the church that carries Holm Lane further underscores this notion as it is small for a main river bridge in what is now wash land.

The aerial picture above demonstrates the remarkable amount of water engineering that was put in place centuries ago to allow the church to be kept dry whilst enabling the mill to operate. Many of these engineered solutions have been neglected over the last century or so.

c.1888

Further Works.

There are several issues to be resolved prior to a scheme to protect the church and its surrounding churchyard and community centre might be protected from floodwater in the future. These consist:

  • Agree benefits desirable from changing water flows, storage and wetland creations.
  • Identify benefits for the Amber and Derwent catchments.
  • Identify the land ownership of land between the church and Severn Trent’s Ogston Reservoir.
  • Discussions and agreements with the landowners.
  • Reach agreements with the statutory bodies regarding river flow, washlands and wetlands.
  • Action the reinstement of the water network as was originally operated.

Put in place works upstream to slow and hold back spate conditions in the river. This improving natural diversity of habitat, lesson flooding further downstream and allow more sustainable water management.

Author: emily

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