Bishop’s Park wins Local Places for Nature Grant

Copyright Caryl Thomas 2020 – The Great Meadow at Bishops Park, Abergwili

PRESS RELEASE 18-12-2020

New wildlife-friendly gardens at the Bishop’s Park, Abergwili made possible by Welsh Government and National Lottery support


The Tywi Gateway Trust has received a grant of £22,900 from Welsh Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund ‘Local Places for Nature’ to create two new garden areas at the Bishop’s Park, Abergwili, as part of wider restoration and conservation of the site. The Park surrounds the old palace of the Bishops of St David’s, now home to Carmarthenshire Museum, where outbuildings will also be converted to house a new café and learning and interpretation centre. The award will enable the purchase of historic plant varieties to create attractive new planting displays beneficial for wildlife, as well as providing educational opportunities and activities for visitors and children.

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said:

“Nature is our oldest form of heritage and it has never been more important to look after nature and help people to understand its importance. Nature can also boost our mood; reduce stress; help us to relax; improve our physical and mental health and it should be accessible to everyone.

“Funding nature and landscapes is one of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s key strategic funding priorities in Wales and we are very happy to be working in partnership with the Welsh Government to award this ‘Local Places for Nature’ grant to the Tywi Gateway Trust so that people of the area can learn more about and benefit from their own natural heritage.”

The entrance area which currently greets visitors to the site will be transformed to provide a new garden for year-round interest taking its design inspiration from the time of Bishop John Jenkinson (1825 to 1840). It will be circular in design, with attractive planting including espalier Welsh heritage apple and pear trees, and a large range of culinary and medicinal herbs and plants available in the mid-19th century. The garden is designed to provide a combination of native and ornamental plants providing nectar and pollen sources for insects, reflecting both the sustainable aims of the project and the rich history of the site.

The new woodland garden area lies at the edge of the main woodland at the Bishop’s Park and was first opened up 5 years ago when a mature beech tree had to be felled due to fungus making the tree unstable. This now forms an attractive sheltered open area in a natural bowl, looking out across the flood plain meadow where visitors will be able to sit and enjoy the plantings with the backdrop of the Tywi Valley and enjoy the wellbeing benefits of being in woodland.  New ornamental shrubs, small trees and spring-flowering bulbs and the introduction of bird and bat boxes will enhance the native flora and fauna and benefit woodland wildlife.

Louise Austin, Trust Manager, said “We are thrilled to receive this Welsh Government and National Lottery grant which will enable us to create attractive new garden and woodland areas, using heritage plant varieties and benefitting pollinating insects and other wildlife. We are greatly looking forward to working with local schools and community groups to develop a wide range of educational activities and materials for visitors, children and the local community.“

The Tywi Gateway Trust are keen to ensure the park is accessible for and enjoyed by all.  The project will enable local young people to work with the Tywi Gateway Trust’s Head Gardener Piers Lunt learning how to prepare, plant and care for the garden areas, including planting traditional Welsh varieties of apple trees such as Tinyrwydd and Bardsey.

The installation of the new gardens are part of the wider programme of restoration and enhancement of the Bishop’s Park managed by the Tywi Gateway Trust to conserve and restore the park and gardens to the period of their last major re-design in the 1840s.  This includes bringing the attractive walled kitchen garden back into production and improving public access to the adjacent Great Meadow, which will be managed to benefit the rare flood plain meadow habitat.  The project will also conserve the Bishop’s Pond ox-bow lake which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and restore the outbuildings of the Old Bishop’s Palace for use as a learning and interpretation centre with café, which will open in Autumn 2021.

Copyright Caryl Thomas 2020 – The Great Meadow at Bishops Park, Abergwili[/caption]