The Queenswood Heritage Gateway project, running until October 2019, aims to explore and showcase the heritage of the site with new opportunities for visitors to learn more about the arboretum and history of Queenswood.

The project is receiving grants amounting to just under £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The grant of £58,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, made possible by National Lottery Players, will fund practical improvements and new interpretation on the site and a programme of events and activities as well as a part-time project officer to manage the project.

There a number of strands to this ambitious project:

A new audio-visual trail, ‘Lyrics, Leaves & Lives’ will run through the Arboretum where visitors can listen to excerpts of oral history connected with the site, poems and bird song. The trail will also link to the specimen trees within the Arboretum and the natural history of the woodland.

Within an area of oak trees in the Arboretum, a memorial to the First World War will be created. Queenswood was clear-felled during the Great War, all the trees cut down to provide timber to support the war effort, and the woodland we see today has regenerated over the last century. The First World War Commemorative Woodland will provide a contemplative space which explores the role played by Herefordshire’s landscapes and rural communities during the war and the legacy it left. An artist will be commissioned to design an installation to form the centrepiece of the space and an appeal has been launched in association with the Herefordshire First World War Commemoration Committee to raise an additional £12,000 to realise this element of the project.

Five local primary schools will be regularly visiting during the project when Queenswood staff will lead activities exploring the natural heritage of Herefordshire and the importance of woodland and nature to our lives. The project will also train young people and volunteers in oral history skills and ecological surveying skills, so that they can assist with monitoring the flora and fauna of Queenswood for years to come. A series of events to celebrate the role of wood and woodland management in Herefordshire will also take place throughout the project to engage with people of all ages.

The funding will also go towards improving the signage, making the site more welcoming and accessible and the team will be consulting with the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), and the Alzheimer’s society on new signs and paths.

The project’s legacy will be the publication of a book explaining the timeline of Queenswood and Dinmore Hill and collating the social, cultural and natural history of the site. The project team are looking for volunteers to assist with researching the site with support from local heritage organisations.

Estates Manager, James Hitchcock commented: “over the past two years we’ve really focused on engaging children and young people launching a full, year-round programme of events and activities, installing a Gruffalo Trail and improving the Woodland Playground. We now want this new project to give visitors a different experience of the site. We will focus on Queenswood’s fascinating history, providing a more in-depth, cultural interpretation of the woodland and Arboretum. We hope this will prove fascinating to regular, local visitors as well as tourists visiting the county.”

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