Groundwork East: Elstow Abbey
A comprehensive restoration project is currently in-running at Elstow Abbey, Bedfordshire that is intended to recreate the historic gardens surrounding the Abbey, including the installation of a Benedictine Garden, a riverside walk and heritage fish ponds.
Significant progress is being made, with the first landmark now reached.
Groundwork East, the group driving the initiative has constructed a ‘polytunnel’ that is designed to allow volunteers to grow their own heritage plant species, some of local provenance, adjoining the gardens with the building itself. As well as promoting biodiversity and a wider selection of habitats, the initiative will in-time provide visitors to the Abbey a representative glimpse of the past.
A number of parties have been involved in the project. Local construction business Mick George Ltd provided a £5,540 grant which has permitted the site preparation works and materials to erect the impressive shaft, while the Friends of Elstow Abbey, volunteer groups and local residents have also been involved in the creation.
Founded in 1078, Elstow Abbey is a major visitor attraction in the county. The landscape improvements are anticipated to boost annual footfall to around 12,000 each year.
Groundwork East is an environmental and community charity aspiring to transform places and lives. One of the key project partners is East London NHS Foundation Trust, for which the project has been utilised to deliver therapeutic training programmes, supporting the wellbeing of young people diagnosed with mental health support needs.
Phil Paulo, project lead of Groundwork East said: ‘’Our aim is to create better places, improving people’s prospects and promoting greener living and working. The tunnel component of this project has certainly achieved that objective.’’
Jon Stump, Finance Director at Mick George Ltd commented: ‘’We have been involved in many conservation projects in the past, working alongside other respected charities such as RSPB, The Woodland Trust and the National Trust, all of which resulted in a positive outcome.’’
Stump continued: ‘’Elstow Abbey has a rich heritage, so we’re very pleased to have played our future in improving visitor experiences for generations to come.’’