A comfy seat and a warming drink – take a tour of Staunton with us

Dec 18 2019

Hi everyone, I’m Tim Speller, Manager of Staunton Country Park near Havant - welcome to our new blog post.

I thought that as we near the end of the year, it was the perfect chance to update you all on the work that’s been happening on site over the past few months as we revive Staunton’s beautiful, historic parkland and modernise visitor facilities.

Since we announced that the major work phase was underway in September, many visitors will have noticed differences – some small, some big – but all important! Grab a warming winter drink and I’ll walk you through the main bits.

Let’s start at the Shell House. Built from finely patterned flint in around 1828, it’s a really special feature of the picturesque parkland. Clearance work is now complete, and the structural repairs are being made. This will mean that visitors can fully explore its history and discover its quirky facts, including how it used to display a stuffed crocodile.

Shell House

We’ll head next to the Chinese Bridge on the Ornamental Lake which was constructed in 1831. Originally the bridge had Chinese gateways at either end, as well as decorative balustrades. Above the gateways used to be four Chinese inscriptions:

  • LIN CHEE WHA YUEN (Thicket water flower garden)
  • HAN FA MEI KIAO (Chinese style ornamented bridge)
  • TSING TSIN YEAU WAN (Pleased to enter, amused, ramble
  • PIN GAN JOU YEE (Health, peace, wishes accomplished)

Now, green oak balustrades have been added to the bridge, with the Chinese inscriptions on the end posts reinstated.

Chinese bridge

Continuing around the lake and heading along the footpath, we have the remains of the terrace which is the remains of the former Mansion House in our view. Careful work is being done to outline where the historic house once stood. Each of the rooms will be outlined – it might remind visitors of a giant games board!

Mansion map

A little further onwards is the Coach House and old dairy. Roof repairs have been completed ahead of bat hibernation. The fox weather vane has been replaced at the top of the clock tower. (Pictured: me with the new vane). In the Coach House, renovations are being made to create the café area and visitor welcome space. In the adjoining old dairy, work has started on the new toilet facilities.

Weather vane

Elsewhere

  • Vegetation clearance has been done and replanting has started along the Serpentine border, taking special care to reflect what it would have looked like during the Regency era.
  • Path works are starting in the same area, so that footpaths are maintained and in a good state for visitors, meaning that the routes won’t get as muddy in wet weather.

Looking forward to 2020

All in all, we’ve made great progress through the autumn. These pieces of work fit into our overall project which will, in summary, see:

  • New catering in the Coach House with the creation of a café with indoor and outdoor seating, and toilet facilities in the adjacent stable block;
  • Construction of a new car park which will serve the parkland and act as overflow for the farm on busy days;
  • New trails and activities including a folly trail, a community orchard, bush craft and other family activities, and horticulture courses;
  • The creation of two new activity rooms for park and community groups
  • Restoration of the Grade II* listed landscape;
  • Conservation of the historic follies and Chinese bridge and installation of a new 21st century folly.

We’re very much looking forward to our work steadily progressing through the winter months, ahead of our planned completion which is estimated for late Spring 2020.

For now, the Staunton team and I, wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Remember, Staunton’s parkland is the perfect backdrop for some great festive walks.