Major National Lottery Boost for Abergwili Park

Thanks to a £1,274,300 grant to a Carmarthenshire charity from the National Lottery the dream of revitalising Bishop’s Park at Abergwili is on the point of realisation.

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Working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Museum and the Church in Wales, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Tywi Gateway Trust – Ymddiriedolaeth Drws i’r Dyffryn has drawn up ambitious plans to reintegrate, conserve and revitalise the historic pleasure gardens, walled kitchen garden, as well as parts of the Great Meadow and Bishop’s Pond, both of great ecological interest. Centre-stage will be the Tywi Gateway Centre with activity and learning facilities, as well as the all-important coffee shop. Four members of staff will be recruited and volunteers, many of them local, will have key roles. All being well visitors will see work starting in earnest by the end of 2017.

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The Walled Garden

This National Lottery award provides just over half of the project’s estimated £2.3 million total costs. It was left to the Trust – with its predecessor, the local branch of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust (WHGT) – to raise the remaining balance. Carmarthenshire County Council has contributed £300,000 to capital costs and news of the award of a grant from the Welsh Government Rural Communities Development Programme is awaited. The rest has come from charitable trusts and individual donations.

On behalf of the Park’s Trustees Michael Norman states, “one of the great strengths of Bishop’s Park is that it’s much loved by local people; it’s their park. Working alongside the County Museum and the future Tywi Valley Cycleway, Bishop’s Park will therefore be a community-driven and reinvigorated place that’s more welcoming, accessible and attractive for quiet recreation and learning. Health and well-being will also be high on the agenda, as will opportunities for volunteering and employment”.

Michael adds, “the Park will mesh its visitor facilities with those of the Museum to help assure the future of both, an innovative concept we believe is unique to Wales. And if more people would like get involved we’d really like to hear from them!”

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, says: “This is a huge achievement by a dedicated group of local volunteers.  Carmarthenshire Museums has collaborated with the WHGT and Tywi Gateway Trust throughout this exciting project development and is really looking forward to the next stage of this journey.  Alongside the Park scheme, the planned cycleway development and proposals to revitalise the Museum will together provide a significant and high quality heritage and leisure attraction over the coming years.”

HLF’s Chief Executive Ros Kerslake, says, on behalf of HLF: “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of our public parks. Vital to our well-being and essential to biodiversity, they are highly valued spaces enjoyed daily by people from all walks of life. Bishops Park is one of the latest parks to benefit from over £900million of National Lottery funding, which over the last twenty years has played a crucial role in revitalising more than 800 parks across the UK.”

Diocese of St Davids: Press Release

The Secret Garden comes back to life

 

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There’s a secret lying hidden at the bottom of the Bishop’s garden – and it’s about to be revealed.

In its heyday, the Bishop’s Palace in Abergwili, near Carmarthen, overlooked what commentators of the time described as “a noble estate” that had been the residence of the Bishops of St Davids since 1536.

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That was in the 1850s. Since then what’s become known as the Bishop’s Park has seen fluctuating fortunes. The building is now the county museum and the gardens left largely to Mother Nature

But now the park’s trustees are embarking on a five-year, multi-million pound project to restore the grounds to their former glory.

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And the centrepiece of the story is a walled garden which Trust volunteers have started to restore with help from initial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Bishop’s Park restoration is part of a wider Tywi Gateway initiative which aims to open up the entire Tywi Valley for leisure and tourism, including a cycle path all the way to Llandeilo

And even at this early stage, they’ve uncovered a treasure trove of history going back hundreds of years.

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Last weekend (March 11), the Bishop herself paid a visit to see what exactly was going on at the bottom of her garden and pronounced herself well pleased with what she saw.

The scheme remains subject to further lottery funding but, given a fair wind and the backing it seeks, the Towy Gateway – and the Bishop’s Garden – will be restored in about five years.

Looking for Trustees

Do you love Carmarthenshire? Do you care about our heritage, landscape and the environment? Would you like to be involved at the start of a something new and exciting?

 

At Ymddiriedolaeth Drws i’r Dyffryn – Tywi Gateway Trust – we’re seeking individuals to support the community-driven redevelopment of the Bishops Park at Abergwili, Carmarthen. It’s a place notable for its cultural and archaeological history but also for landscape features  like the Great Meadow, the Bishop’s Pond (a site of Special Scientific Interest) or the famous ‘ha-ha’. At its heart is the former Palace of the Bishops of St Davids, a Listed building, now Carmarthenshire County Museum – a treasure trove.

If you like a challenge and have experience in horticulture, the arts, the environment, fundraising, volunteering or a background in business, finance, law, museums, heritage or education – then why not join us. Our vision it to create a place that we can all be proud of – for enjoyment, recreation, learning, participation and fun! We’ll be integrating our visitor facilities with those of the Museum to help assure the future of both – a truly unique partnership.

Find out more on (CC3) The Essential Trustee www.gov.uk

 

The Trust is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with voting Members other than its Charity Trustees. CIO Registered No. 1167244. The role of our Trustees is to ensure that the organisation functions within legal and financial requirements of a company and charity, and to be responsible for overall governance and strategic direction.

 

Contact details: sallymoss@tywigateway.org.uk or 6 Carmarthen Street, Llandeilo. SA19 6AE