Historic England Capacity Building Grant

  • Lead Partner or Organisation: Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, Greensand Country Landscape Partnership
  • Other Stakeholders: The Garden's Trust, Historic England
  • Greensand Country Landscape Partnership Themes: Community Projects
  • Forward Plan Themes: Caring for the landscape,Enjoyment and wellbeing
  • National Lottery Heritage Fund Outcomes: Heritage is identified/recorded,More people and a wider range of people have engaged with heritage,People have developed skills,People have learnt about heritage,People have volunteered time

Written by: Greensand Country Team

This project oversaw a Historic England Capacity Building Grant of £40,000. The project had three main aims: assess the condition of the historic designed landscapes of Greensand Country, train volunteers in the skills associated with understanding and interpreting designed landscapes, and identifying opportunities for future projects connected to historic designed landscapes. The project would work with a diverse array of stakeholders, including Historic England, local volunteers, The Gardens Trust, and expert consultants.


The project delivered HAR Condition Assessments for 10 historic parklands, and liaising with 15 landowners in total across the Greensand Country landscape.

The Gardens Trust delivered eight workshops on recording, researching, and teaching volunteers to ‘read’ designed landscapes. This was an important step to generate volunteer interest and engagement with historic parkland.

The report produced by Twigs Way and Fiona wells consolidated the information in the Condition Assessment, as well as providing a resource going forward for future opportunities relating to historic parkland.

Benefits to People

The training offered by The Gardens Trust to volunteers has upskilled volunteers with the knowledge needed to understand historic designed landscapes and interpret their condition. It has also engaged landowners, giving them more information to understand different landscapes. The project did not aim to reach out directly to the wider community, but the improved management of two public spaces (Ampthill Great Park and Flitwick Manor Park) will indirectly benefit the local community’s awareness of designed landscapes.

Benefits to Heritage & Landscape

This project’s benefit to heritage was wide-reaching. Firstly, heritage was better understood through the work of The Gardens Trust, by sharing skills on how to read and interpret the features of historic designed landscapes. The surveying work that informed the report has enabled projects to be put together to improve the understanding and physical condition. Whilst the Partnership has not been able to act on all of the opportunities, they remain detailed for future work as funding becomes available.

Secondly, this project enabled the preparatory work for the production of two parkland management plans (at Ampthill Great Park and Flitwick Manor Park). This will enable the heritage of both sites to be better managed going forward.

At a landscape level, this project has identified opportunities to record and enhance historic designed landscapes. As a key feature that defines the sense of place within Greensand Country, this is a key step to benefiting the whole landscape.

Challenges & Lessons Learnt

The main challenge was how to maintain the momentum and interest of volunteers after the training sessions ended. Unfortunately, they were not involved in project delivery throughout the NLHF programme as projects were contractor-led.

Volunteers need to be kept engaged on a similar task to ensure the knowledge and skills learned during training are maintained.

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