The grounds of Barnsley’s Cannon Hall will be restored to their former Georgian glory thanks to a grant of almost £3m.
The 70 acres of park and gardens surrounding the historic hall in Cawthorne will be transformed using £2,925,200 secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme.
The money will be used to restore and repair original features, some of which have never been seen by the public, with the aim of placing the visitor attraction firmly on the tourist map.
An intact ice house built in the 1700s will be revealed and a two-acre area of woodland behind the walled garden will be cleared and opened up for educational tours and activities.
The lakes of the park will be dredged and restored, improving their appearance and water quality and supporting biodiversity. Once completed, visitors will be able hire rowing boats and fishing equipment, emulating popular Georgian pastimes.
New paths will be created around the site, allowing wheelchair access to areas such as the lakeside, and an adventure trail will run through the wooded area from the deer shelter to the museum.
The gardener’s cottage will be restored to create a base for volunteer activities and a ‘midden’, an early example of an outside toilet, will also be revealed.
Work will begin in early 2017, with completion scheduled for Early 2020
Two years of planning, research and consultation went into the funding application, called ‘Restoring the Glory’, and over 100 people were involved.
Volunteer group The Friends of Cannon Hall have raised over £40,000 by holding major events, fayres and activities at the hall for match funding. The total partnership funding is £740,567.
Richard Emerson, chairman of The Friends of Cannon Hall, said: “The grant is a major boost for a historic recreational site and is absolutely fantastic news for the Barnsley community and beyond. This incredible result follows years of long hours and detailed preparation and is vitally important, enabling much needed restoration and improvement of the park and gardens. Our local heritage is of great importance to us all, it defines who we are and the character and identity of our communities and must be protected.”
Cannon Hall was owned by the Spencer-Stanhope family for 300 years and its grounds were designed in the 18th century by renowned Georgian landscape architect Richard Woods. The hall opened as a museum in 1957.
Popular visitor attractions in the grounds include the deer shed, recently licenced for weddings, and the Cannon Hall pear tree collection, which is housed within the historic walled garden and contains over 50 varieties – making it one of the largest in the north of England.
Fairyland, part of the Pleasure Gardens, was built in the 1870s and features arches and pillars built from stone taken from the ruins of local churches. It is said to be inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Roddam Spencer-Stanhope.
Visitors can also discover the remains of the Pinery, a greenhouse built in the 1700s to grow pineapples and exotic fruit. Work to attempt to grow pineapples again will begin in 2017.
The walled gardens are also home to a 200-year-old Muscat grapevine, which is a ancestor of today’s Australian fine wines.
Cannon Hall and its grade two listed grounds are part of the Barnsley Museums portfolio, owned and operated by Barnsley Council. The parks and gardens are free to visit and are open 365 days a year.
Cllr Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place at Barnsley Council, said: “The HLF funding is the result of many hours of hard work by a wide range of people, including community volunteers, and we are all delighted with the result. We hope this investment will lead to Cannon Hall and its park and gardens becoming one of Yorkshire’s top cultural visitor attractions.”
The funding forms part of the Parks for People programme, a joint initiative between the Big Lottery Fund and the HLF. The programme awards grants of between £100,000 and £5 million to revitalise historic parks and cemeteries.
Ros Kerslake, chief executive of HLF, said on behalf of HLF and Big Lottery Fund: “Public parks play a vital role in our health and well-being. With this investment from National Lottery players, there is real opportunity for the rejuvenated Cannon Hall grounds to deliver huge benefits to the whole community.”
The Friends of Cannon Hall are calling for more volunteers to help with the improvements and restorations. To find out about the volunteering opportunities available, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01226 790270.