Dartington awarded development grant for conservation of medieval Deer Park and to reveal hidden histories of the estate

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Update, July 2016: The Dartington Hall Trust has launched an appeal for donations to secure the final portion in funding for the Deer Park Wall project. £12,300 must be raised in public donations or a £120,000 funding grant will be lost. Please click here if you want to know more.

The Dartington Hall Trust has received initial support* for its ‘Heritage Revealed’ project from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The project aims to conserve Dartington’s little-known medieval Deer Park and open up public access to the estate’s historic landscape.

Development funding of £66,300 has also been awarded to help The Trust progress its plans to apply for a Second Round grant to deliver the project that is expected to amount to just under £600,000.


Visualisation of how the Deer Park Wall development could look. (c) Lacey Hickie and Caley Ltd
Visualisation of how the Deer Park Wall development could look. Please note that this is an image created for preliminary purposes and not intended to represent the final development. (c) Lacey Hickie and Caley Ltd

The project aims to carry out conservation work to repair and stabilise the Grade II listed 18th Century Deer Park Wall around Dartington’s 66-acre Deer Park of old, which is itself a scheduled ancient monument deemed as ‘Heritage at Risk’.

The project will also create a fully accessible circuit of this Deer Park to ensure access for people of all mobilities and create an educational visitor experience to reveal the hidden history of life on the estate from Anglo Saxon times to the present day.

Commenting on the award, Dartington’s Interim CEO Karen Williams said:

“This is really exciting news because we now hope to preserve and open up this largely hidden corner of the Dartington estate to the public.

“We also have an amazing opportunity to bring together so many aspects of our work in making this happen – that includes social justice, sustainability, arts and our support of local community organisations. We’ll all be collaborating to preserve and illuminate a legacy to be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Map showing plans for the Deer Park wall
Map showing plans for the Deer Park wall

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said:

“Today’s HLF support is a great first step for the ‘Heritage Revealed’ project that will restore and open up this relatively unknown historic Deer Park to the public.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, people will also have great chances to develop skills, volunteer and be involved from the start.”

A public engagement and educational programme plans to involve different groups including local schools. The project will use a collaborative approach and aim to involve many beneficiaries of Dartington’s diverse charitable programmes.

The plans comprise opportunities for trainees on the LandWorks prisoner resettlement scheme to develop employment skills through working directly on the conservation activity;  Abundant Life volunteers will be able to train as visitor guides while Schumacher College students can learn traditional craft skills.

How the Deer Park Wall looks now
Disrepair: how the Deer Park Wall looks now


*About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Heritage Grants applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed. ‘From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.’  www.hlf.org.uk

For more information, please email claire.wheatcroft@dartington.org.


10 thoughts on “The Dartington Hall Trust wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

  1. Any repairs and restoration to the enclosing wall will need to bear in mind that the woodland area is nowadays still inhabited by actual deer. It would be unfortunate / ironic if a restored / repaired wall would have the effect of restricting movement of these wild / feral animals.
    Also, not too much flat surface please. When I’m walking by the woods I like to feel that I am actually walking on the landscape.

  2. I quite agree with Steve about the danger of redeveloping this area but have to say that I’m overjoyed to hear this news about an accessible path.
    As someone who used to be a keen walker but can now, through progressive disability, only manage short distances, it has been fantastic to be able to access the estate from my house in the village on my mobility scooter.
    Just being able to trundle my way slowly up the concrete path in North Wood is food to my soul and I long to be able to go further afield.
    Thank you.

    1. It would obviously be great to open up the walk to people like Judy with more limited mobility, but I do hope the surface you choose will be more sympathetic than the strip of concrete in the visualisation. Hopefully these days there are options that are suitable for scooters, but which have a more rural feel…

  3. I’m delighted to see this initiative being taken regarding the deer park and its associated wall. I have both walked the relevant area with and without my family over many years and to see a resurgence in management of this special environment will give me, and I’m sure, many others, immense satisfaction. The historical and heritage connotations of the Dartington estate cannot be overstated.

  4. Fantastic news about the historic Deer Park. I can remember around 1979, working with Charles White, Peter Goss and the Estate stone masons to start the repair work on a short section of the wall. It is an important and up until now neglected historic gem. Congratulations.

    1. Yes, great news that the collapsed section of wall will be restored at last but we must be very careful not to destroy that sense of the past that a walk by the wall currently gives by too much modern “interpretation”. In my experience it can and usually does have the quite the opposite effect. It brings the place bang into the present leaving little space for our imagination to do the real work. A walk along that track by the Deerpark is one of the great joys of the Estate. It is already has such a timeless quality which could be very easily destroyed.

      1. Thanks for your comment Steve. This is a really important point and we can assure you that we will not be going for a ‘text heavy’ interpretation approach that will spoil the atmosphere of the area. We’re determined to develop something creative and inspiring. In general we want a visit to the Deer Park area to be an immersive and sensory experience.

        1. I agree with Steve – I feel that these days there’s a strong tendency to over-interpret. Personally I’m not keen on the idea of boards etc on the walk itself, as this does tend to destroy the atmosphere. Good leaflets available from the visitors centre would be great, but if you’re going to place boards, perhaps they could be limited to the entry points?

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