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Westonbirt National Arboretum and Westonbirt School

The 200ha Westonbirt site is grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. Part of it is now the National Arboretum. The remainder comprises the grounds of Westonbirt School. The tree and shrub collection was developed by the Holford family and contains many of the early introductions of plants to England in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. acta carried out a survey of the gardens and parkland in the school section and drew up a landscape restoration plan. The overall objectives were:

  • reinstatement of lost and damaged landscape features
  • guidance on the future management the trees
  • bringing the school grounds up to the standard of the National Arboretum.

Client - Forestry Commission

  1. When new introductions arrived, how they would grow in the site’s mild Cotswold environment wasn't always clear. The early planting left a legacy of difficult long-term management issues
  2. An excellent sequence of photographs taken in 1950 followed the development. Where practicable, lost species were identified for re-introduction
  3. The Holfords fell out with the parish priest and built an eight foot–high wall around the church, surrounding it with planting. Most of this has been removed, but fragments remain
  4. Features such as the ponds can be traced from the original design
  5. The vast mock-Elizabethan house lies within terraces and is a sharp contrast with the surrounding picturesque landscape