£1.5m grant helps save coun­try house grounds

Western Daily Press - - News -

THE grounds of one of Somerset’s best-loved coun­try houses have been saved thanks to a £1.5 mil­lion grant.

More than 300 acres sur­round­ing Hester­combe House, near Taun­ton, had been ear­maked for sale by the Crown Es­tate ear­lier this year.

But plans to re­store the beau­ti­ful gar­dens are now in mo­tion af­ter a £1.5 mil­lion grant from the Na­tional Her­itage Me­mo­rial Fund was re­ceived.

The Hester­combe Gar­dens Trust is now able to buy all 320 acres, in­clud­ing the early 17th-cen­tury wa­ter gar­den which the group plans to re­store.

Hester­combe Gar­dens Trust chair­man, Sir An­drew Burns, said: “This is a tremen­dous vote of con­fi­dence in Hester­combe and recog­nises Somerset’s lead­ing her­itage gar­den as a site of out­stand­ing na­tional im­por­tance.

“We are enor­mously grate­ful to the Na­tional Her­itage Me­mo­rial Fund and our other fun­ders for their most gen­er­ous and timely as­sis­tance in se­cur­ing the fu­ture of Hester­combe for pub­lic en­joy­ment.”

The to­tal cost of buy­ing the land from the Crown Es­tate, a col­lec­tion of lands and hold­ings in the United King­dom be­long­ing to the Bri­tish monarch, was priced at £2.7mil­lion.

Other grants and dona­tions to meet the cost were re­ceived from three pri­vate trusts and the Garfield We­ston Foun­da­tion.

In 1944, Hester­combe was sold to the Crown Es­tate, which con­tin­ues to hold the land, apart from Hester­combe House it­self and the for­mal gar­den.

These were sold to Somerset County Coun­cil in 1978, which trans­ferred the free­hold of the house, for­mal gar­den and visi­tor cen­tre to the Hester­combe Gar­dens Trust.

Philip White, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive at Hester­combe, wel­comed the chance to bring the land “to­gether again”.

He said: “This has been a re­mark­able and pos­si­bly unique op­por­tu­nity to put back to­gether a na­tion­ally im­por­tant his­toric land­scape when so many are bro­ken up, that had been made pos­si­ble by the vi­sion shown by Hester­combe’s trus­tees and its gen­er­ous sup­port­ers.

“The Hester­combe Gar­dens Trust is very grate­ful to the lead­ers of both Somerset County Coun­cil, David Fothergill, and Taun­ton Deane Bor­ough Coun­cil, John Wil­liams, for their strong sup­port and also to Taun­ton MP, Re­becca Pow, a long­time cham­pion of Hester­combe, who was able to pro­mote the ap­pli­ca­tion at a na­tional level.”

Diane Leader

The 300 acres sur­round­ing Hester­combe Househave been saved

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