Could ancient site become tourist hot spot?

Quarrendon Leas, which includes ruins of St Peter's Church

Quarrendon Leas, which includes ruins of St Peter's Church

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A trust which has acquired a historic piece of land containing an ancient monument wants to turn it into a thriving tourist attraction.

Quarrendon Leas contains ruins of St Peter’s Church and outlines of two Medieval villages which Sir Henry Lee destroyed to improve the view.

As part of a section 106 agreement, the 200 hectare patch between Buckingham Park and Berryfields has now been acquired by the Bucks Conservation Trust.

It is the first piece of land which the trust, formed in 2008, has taken control of and its chief officer, Mike Woods, is looking forward to attracting families to learn about the history of the site.

He said: “We want people to love and cherish the site and for future generations to then use it too.

“It’s a major piece of land – a really important piece of green space.

“So we are very pleased to have it but obviously it will be a challenge because of all the interest and the protection it will need.”

The trust has begun putting up signs explaining the significance of the site and are recruiting volunteers to look after the land.

But in the next 10 years, it is hoping to build a car park and visitor centre and improve access from the Western Link Road.

Sir Henry, who had a successful cattle business in the 16th Century, used the land to show off his wealth and lived in a moated mansion.

The family gained access to the royal court and Sir Henry became a favourite of Elizabeth I, who is believed to have visited the site.

After the family moved on, a farm replaced the mansion from which beef cattle were then sold at Aylesbury Market.

But the farm was eventually demolished in the 1970s.

Today, it is home to badgers, bats, birds and hares but the monument is the main attraction and the trust wants to use it as the centre-point for a tourist attraction.

In 2006, Aylesbury Vale District Council decided not to acquire the site which left its future uncertain.

But the trust was set up after a request from Bucks County Council in 2008 and plans were put in place for it to take over the land. Ownership of Quarrendon Leas was passed on to the Berryfields Development Consortium by private agreement but as part of the section 106 agreement, the trust will now manage the site.