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This remarkable donation has enabled Hestercombe to acquire land totalling 320 acres, securing the world-class, Grade 1 heritage landscape, gardens and buildings for future generations.
A vision to completely restore Hestercombe is one step closer thanks to a £1.5 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
The purchase of the land by the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, which boasts a unique combination of four complete period gardens spanning four centuries of garden design, affirms the Trust’s ambition to become a national Centre for Arts & Landscape.
The newly acquired land includes the site of a rare, early 17th century Water Garden which it is planned to restore together with other historic features within the park. The purchase also allows for the possibility of extending the current contemporary art gallery in the house to include outside spaces for the display of art.
Planted to its original design, Hestercombe’s Formal Garden is considered the finest example of the famous collaboration between garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens. Popular TV gardener Monty Don, who has filmed at the site several times, considers Hestercombe one of his very favourite gardens.
Hestercombe Gardens Trust chairman, Sir Andrew Burns KCMG, said: “This is a tremendous vote of confidence in Hestercombe and recognises Somerset’s leading heritage garden as a site of outstanding national importance. We are enormously grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and our other funders for their most generous and timely assistance in securing the future of Hestercombe for public enjoyment”.
The total cost of acquiring the land, following the Crown Estate’s decision to sell off its agricultural holdings, together with a picturesque gate keeper’s lodge, which was acquired separately, was £2.7 million. Substantial and generous partnership funding to complete the purchase was received from three private trusts and the Garfield Weston Foundation.
Philip White MBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Hestercombe Gardens Trust.
Philip White MBE, Founder and Chief Executive, said that this had been a remarkable and possibly unique opportunity to put back together a nationally important historic landscape when so many are broken up, that had been made possible by the vision shown by Hestercombe’s trustees and its generous supporters.
The Hestercombe Gardens Trust is very grateful to the leaders of both Somerset County Council, Cllr David Fothergill, and Taunton Deane Borough Council, Cllr John Williams, for their strong support and also to Taunton MP, Rebecca Pow, a long time champion of Hestercombe, who was able to promote the application at a national level.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is a resource of last resort used to save some of the UK’s finest heritage which is at risk of being lost to the nation. The NHMF was launched in 1980 as a “memorial to those who have died for the United Kingdom”. Its fund was to be used for grants to help acquire, maintain or preserve for the nation any land, building or structure, or any object or collection, which is of outstanding scenic, historic, aesthetic, architectural, scientific or artistic interest.
Find out more about Hestercombe's history.