Just two years after breaking ground, a painstaking restoration scheme to revive and reveal one of the most historic parks in Milton Keynes has been successfully completed by The Parks Trust.
Delivered by a team of over 60 people and funded by the National Lottery, the scheme has returned the park to its former glory and made the stunning space more accessible for visitors.
Great Linford Manor Park is home to some of the oldest buildings and trees in Milton Keynes. Situated on limestone bedrock that was formed during the Jurassic period, the area was first settled by the Saxons and even mentioned in the Domesday Book. From medieval times, the park served as a private pleasure garden and is today part of the publicly-accessible linear parkland that connects the city.
After surveying the park and realising how much of its heritage was being eroded or hidden from sight, The Parks Trust commissioned a restoration scheme. With required work estimated to cost over £2m, the charity made a successful bid for National Lottery funding which enabled work to begin in October 2020.
At the heart of the restoration was a promise to bring Great Linford Manor Park back to life for the benefit of more Milton Keynes residents. CEO of The Parks Trust, Victoria Miles, explains: “Great Linford Manor Park’s heritage features had become lost or hidden over the years and were in desperate need of repair. Areas of the park were overgrown, and it was not an easy place for visitors to navigate.
“We felt that the park had the potential to be up there with the finest outdoor spaces in the region and enjoyed by many more people for leisure, learning and wellbeing. The Parks Trust is very grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund for their belief in our vision for this park and for helping to fund the work that made it a reality.
“We are thrilled that Great Linford Manor Park’s history, beauty and biodiversity are now revealed for more people to enjoy, and protected for generations to come.”
Among the highlights of the restoration are:
Restored Water Gardens: Now a flowing focal point, tonnes of self-seeded vegetation had to be cleared to reveal the ponds. Special limestone was sourced to match the original material.
Improved visibility and structure for the historic landscape: extensive work took place to enliven the park, with new ornamental flowerbeds created and over 50 new trees planted.
Better access, parking and seating: 1,200 metres of smooth pathway and improved car parking facilities have been put in place along with plenty of seating, including a one-off feature bench – a giant lime tree leaf - commissioned just for the park.
Visitor information: boards telling the stories of the park now feature across the space, helping people to understand its heritage.
Lots of new, fun features: from a reimagined Doric Seat to replace the original that was lost in time to playable sculptures like the wooden sheep (who are fast-becoming insta-famous!), there’s now plenty to see.
Dementia-Friendly Facilities: A new 5-Ways dementia-friendly café has been opened at St. Andrew’s Church inside the park, and regular walks for people with dementia are organised.
Volunteer power: Local volunteers committed over 1,000 hours of their time to supporting the scheme.
A short film setting out the story of the restoration is available here: https://www.theparkstrust.com/our-work/great-linford-manor-park-heritage-fund-project/
The Parks Trust has already organised over 100 free guided walks and more than 450 public events at Great Linford Manor Park and will continue with an exciting programme of year-round activities that encourage local people to visit and enjoy the place. For details of what’s on, visit www.theparkstrust.com