The Parks Trust is to conserve, restore and improve Milton Keynes’ Great Linford Manor Park after winning £3.1 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
The trust, which last month won two Horticulture Week Custodian Awards – for Best Visitor Initiative and Best Volunteer Initiative – will use the money to restore the park’s heritage, including original garden features dating from the 18th century including ponds, cascades and the Wilderness Garden and undertake vital conservation work on the park’s heritage features.
It will also extend existing wildflower meadows, improve entrance, paths, car parking, signage and interpretation and make the park’s old limestone quarry more accessible so people can learn about the area’s geological heritage. The trust says the project will “make the park a more interesting and attractive place to visit where the sense of a fine Eighteenth Century parkland landscape can be experienced”.
Also included in the project is a new play trail for children and a programme of community events and activities, including guided walks, supported visits for persons with special access needs, archaeological digs and educational sessions. A new volunteer group, the Friends of Great Linford Manor Park, has also been established with the support of this project. The Friends will organise events and activities and help The Parks Trust to make the park a welcoming place to visit.
The 16-hectare park lies in Milton Keynes’ historic heart on the edge of Great Linford Village. Features such as its Water Gardens and a Wilderness Garden are believed to have been the work of Richard Woods, a contemporary of ‘Capability’ Brown. The Park was first established as a public parkland by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation in the 1970s and has been owned by The Parks Trust since the establishment of the Trust in 1992. The manor is now a private residence.
The Parks Trust’s head of environment education and volunteering Phil Bowsher said: “We are so pleased that the Heritage Lottery Fund have decided to support our project. Great Linford Manor Park is such a special place in Milton Keynes and we will now be able to make it even better for people to enjoy. The park is full of fascinating heritage features we want to conserve and restore and there are so many interesting stories we can tell to reveal the Park’s history to our visitors.
“We had great support from many people in the community and other organisations in developing our project plan, who are keen to help us conserve this special place and see it used and enjoyed as a public park of great benefit to the local area.”
The HLF has now invested £950million of funding from the National Lottery funds in park heritage.
Chief executive Ros Kerslake, said: “Parks may vary in size, location and design but what they all have in common is the wealth of benefits they deliver to local communities. From economic prosperity and ecological diversity, to personal well-being, parks are essential to the health of the nation.”
Work is expected to start next year and last around a year. Community events and activities will come online later this year and run until 2022.