Natural England - Helping to bring a Georgian park landscape back to life

Helping to bring a Georgian park landscape back to life

2 November 2012

The high standard of a project that has helped return a historic parkland in Leicestershire to its former Georgian glory was highly praised at a prestigious Architectural Awards ceremony held in London on Wednesday 31 October.

Charles 1 Bridge after restoration
Charles I Bridge restored to its former glory © David Prichard/Natural England

The work to safeguard the rare surviving features of the 18th Century parkland landscape at Stanford Hall near Lutterworth was carried out with support from a Natural England Environmental Stewardship Scheme.  The project was nominated for the ‘Restoration of a Georgian garden or landscape’ category in the annual awards presented by The Georgian Group, the national charity dedicated to preserving Georgian buildings and gardens.

At this week’s awards ceremony the restoration of the Stanford Hall Estate - which was on a shortlist of three - was awarded a certificate of commendation and was just pipped to the main award by a project at Kensington Palace Gardens.

Thanks to support from a Natural England Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme, the Stanford Hall Estate has undertaken a parkland tree planting programme, restored the historic Charles I Bridge, the Cascade Bridge, along with parkland railings and gates.

The Charles I Bridge is believed to have been used by the King at the time of the Battle of Naseby. It was on the verge of crumbling into the River Avon but has now been restored to its former glory after a complete rebuild of the structure using traditional building techniques and materials.

A ‘ha-ha’ – a ditch which stops cattle getting to the hall – has also been restored along with the deer shelter, old iron forge and piggery.

The grounds of the hall are designated as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to the diversity of lichen species found in the park and the restoration work has been carried out carefully to ensure that the important natural biodiversity of the site has been safeguarded. The galvanised roof of the deer hut has been replaced with thatch and the bridge, gates and iron railings repaired to such exacting ecological standards that colonies of lichen were left undisturbed.

David Prichard, Natural England Land Management Adviser, said: "The work at Stanford Hall has been funded under one of our green farming schemes and has helped to safeguard wildlife, boost tourism potential in the park and return the grounds to their former glory for the public to enjoy."

Landowner, Nicholas Fothergill, worked in partnership with Natural England, English Heritage, the Environment Agency and Harborough District Council in completing the works at Stanford Hall.

The Georgian Group’s Architectural Awardsexternal link, sponsored by international estate agents Savills and now in their tenth year, recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the United Kingdom and reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes.  The 2012 awards were presented on 31 October at Christie’s in London by The Bishop of London.