Research

We know that every garden has its own story to tell… and our historic parks are now recognised worldwide as an art form. But did you know that the vast majority of researching and campaigning for our historic designed landscapes is carried out by dedicated volunteers like yourself?

This work is frequently carried out by small teams working within the county-based gardens trusts. Find your local gardens trust here.

Understanding parks and gardens is key to their recognition, appreciation and sound stewardship. The whys and wherefores of how they were created and developed, what still survives and what has been lost are only gained by research and survey. Site survey is an essential back up to research, as knowing which elements of a landscape survive, and their condition, helps us decide how best to tackle their longer term preservation. Research, survey and recording can be undertaken by nearly anybody and using all sorts of activities and different levels of skills. The careful recording of our findings enables us to more effectively share our knowledge, encourage feedback and extend our learning experience to much wider audiences. One of the best ways of sharing information is to record your discoveries on the national Parks and Gardens UK Database.

Furthermore the records we create from our research can become crucial management tools to better inform planning and conservation processes, thus ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy our precious heritage as much as we do. To this end it is important that we develop links with Historic Environment Records (HERs). HERs are used by planners within our local planning authorities to help make planning decisions and also to help direct funding grants for conservation work, so it is important to get your research into this local record. Contact details for your local HER can be found here.

In addition several county gardens trusts are currently writing Statements of Significance for their parks and gardens; such documents are recognised nationally and are extremely important for helping professionals to make better management decisions affecting these landscapes. Remember that you probably know your local parks and gardens better than your planning authority staff, so lodging Statements of Significance with your HER is really useful.

The ultimate outcome of all our research, survey and documentation should be the preparation of Conservation Management Plans (CMPs) for each individual site. These are valuable tools for developing informed management strategies for historic designed landscapes and typically include research on a site’s history, development and surviving state, as well as setting out specific conservation measures and how these will be funded. Taken together CMPs form a sizeable body of material on the UK’s historic designed landscapes.

The lynchpin of this flow of information gathering and sharing is the Historic Landscape Project (HLP) which is managed by The Gardens Trust with funding from Historic England. This project supports gardens trust volunteers and other like-minded individuals in playing a proactive role in the conservation of our historic designed landscapes. It can assist with research and recording projects run within the county-based gardens trusts, and holds workshops in different areas of the country to help us share our experiences and expertise. Whether raising awareness, training volunteers or building networks the small but dynamic HLP team is here to help us champion our treasured parks and gardens heritage.

The HLP has gathered and developed an extensive suite of support materials which (following registration) are available to download and reuse for free from the Resource Hub. These materials are regularly updated and added to, so as well as checking the collection from time to time, if you have seen or produced a document that you think may be of interest to other researchers and campaigners please send it to hlpo@thegardenstrust.org.

The Gardens Trust will develop and maintain a Register of Research which all researchers may use to inform others of the sites and themes they are working on and improve networking between both individuals, county gardens trusts and other institutions.

Newsletter