Since announcing that we had been granted planning permission to restore Staunton’s historic park to its former glory and invest in improved visitor facilities, the summer months have seen many exciting projects get underway.
Here’s a flavour of completed projects as well as what’s coming up next.
We led six guided walks during August and September which gave an insight into the wonderful wildlife and heritage of the park. Four walks were organized in collaboration with the Get Up & Go Havant project and another two formed part of our Heritage Open Day events. These walks were well attended and we are hoping to continue to organize walks, particularly through the winter season.
We’re proud to have a special connection to tea that many don’t realise. Staunton was formerly the home of Sir George Thomas Staunton - whose father Sir George Leonard Staunton introduced a Chinese tea blend to England, later named Earl Grey Tea. To honour this historic and quirky heritage, we held our second tea festival in September on the farm. This was an excellent chance for families to buy and taste more exotic flavours of tea. We are looking to develop this exciting historic link with larger events in the future, so watch this space.
Our Oral History Project is a very important part of ensuring that we capture Staunton’s past so that that it connects to the present day and onto the future. As part of this, we have been reaching out to local residents and community groups, particularly in the immediate Leigh Park area, so we can collect photographs and other materials which bring to life memories of the Leigh Park Gardens.
The “Memories of Leigh Park Gardens” drop-in event in September (pictured above) was a brilliant way for us to look at people’s photos and hear their stories of the park. We also worked with the Making Space arts organisation so we were able to exhibit their “Memory Boxes”, - fantastic treasure troves of memories (pictured below). We are looking to working with them again.
Our new team of oral history volunteers are currently being trained at the Hampshire Record Office to give them the skills to start a community archive and collection of local memories. The collection will complement existing material archived at Staunton and will eventually be used to help design parts of the new Coach House Visitor Centre and café.
We have a merry band of dedicated volunteers who help us with conservation and oral history. There are still plenty of volunteering opportunities available at the park, especially as our developments to the park start to take shape over the next few months. If you would like to find out what volunteer roles are available, please email:StauntonHLF@hants.gov.uk