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The Gothic Alcove

In 2018 the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, with huge support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, was able to purchase the majority of Hestercombe’s grade 1 historic landscape, a total of 320 acres, from the Crown Estate.

Unfortunately, it did not include an adjoining 28 acres which critically includes the field below the Gothic Alcove and the one remaining section of the C18th Landscape Garden’s designed circuit walk not under the beneficial ownership of the trust. Also included are the site of the medieval warren and two further south-facing fields that frame magnificent views over the Vale of Taunton to the Blackdown Hills beyond.

Over the last five years I have been engaged in long negotiations with the Crown Estate in an attempt to reunite the landscape and safeguard the whole for posterity. Eventually this became a possibility towards the end of last year for a total purchase price of £195,000.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund flagged our recent application as being of ‘high priority’ and, just before Christmas, the fund granted the trust 65% of the purchase price - a magnificent contribution. Following a further and very generous donation from a benefactor, we now have to find the remaining £35,000 by the end of February in order to complete the purchase.

Once secured, the fields will be developed as wildflower meadows linking with the existing wildflower meadow recreated some twenty years ago by the trust. A small orchard at the southern end will be replanted with heritage apple trees as a community project. The whole creating a new and valuable foraging area for Hestercombe’s population of rare and endangered Lesser Horseshoe bats.

After over thirty exciting years restoring Hestercombe I will be retiring in March. Please help me complete the picture and create a lasting legacy for future generations by helping to secure this unique and wonderful landscape.

To contribute to this once in a lifetime opportunity please contact us or donate here.

Thank you for your continued support.

Philip White MBE

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