Houghton Hall Park

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More latest information and pictures are available on our Facebook site at:

www.facebook.com/houghtonhallpark

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**LATEST UPDATE**

We are halfway through the year and progress continues on the construction for the Visitor Centre.

Kitchen and Formal Garden

Our new Head Gardener Jane Bonney started in April and has been
making significant headway in the gardens and across the park. Ben
from the HRTC Grounds Maintenance crew has joined her for 1 day a
week to help build on the already hard work going on in the gardens,
along with volunteers from across the local community.

Regular Activities within the Park

Buggy Exercise group — Wednesdays 1.30pm – 2.30pm and Fridays 10.00am - 11.00am: getfitnow@ourparks.org.uk / 0800 111 4464
Health walks — Tuesday 10.00am -11.00am and Thurs-days 2.00pm -3.00pm: 0300 300 5125
NEW: Weekly gardening volunteer group, Tuesdays & Wednesdays 10.30am-12.30pm

Beech Tree update:

In April an application was made to remove a beech tree infected with the decay fungus Ustulina deusta that can render the tree liable to sudden brittle fracture of the lower trunk, thereby presenting a sig-nificant risk to users of the park. Consent was granted to fell the tree leaving a high stump appropriate for wood carving. It is planned that the felling will take place in June 2017. In addition a new beech tree of at least ‘selected standard’ size (10cm – 12cm) girth will be plant-ed within the park during the 2017-18 winter planting season.

We hope that you will continue to bear with us whilst works are undertaken throughout the park and look forward to welcoming you to the new visitor centre once it is complete. If you have any queries or would like any further information please contact hhp@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

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The Houghton Hall Park Renaissance and Renewal Project is being managed by Central Bedfordshire Council in partnership
with Houghton Regis Town Council and is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and
the Big Lottery Fund.

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HISTORY OF THE AREA

HOUGHTON REGIS VILLAGE GREEN 1914- 1918 (WORLD WAR I)

The Town Council holds some historic documents that show how Houghton Regis Village Green and Houghton Hall Park played a part in World War I.

In January 1916 the Clerk to Houghton Regis Parish Council, George Jones, wrote to the Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society for advice. He noted that the Military Authority had taken possession of the Village Green, erecting huts and using it for manoeuvres. No approach had been made to the Council, its owners, about this. The Council was concerned about any infringement of their rights, the expense of reinstatement and that private owners of adjacent land (such as Houghton Hall park) were being paid rent. 

The Society responded saying the Council should communicate with the Authorities noting that the Green should be restored ‘as soon as national exigencies permit… as it is a valued Open Space’. 

Later in the year a letter from the Colonel Commanding Royal Engineer Bedford District, noted the ‘question of reinstatement will receive favourable consideration from the War Office on the termination of Military occupancy’.

The story continued into 1918, when the Parish Council contacted the local MP, Cecil Harmsworth. He was MP for Luton from 1911-1922 and in the Secretariat of the Prime Minister Lloyd George from 1917-1919. Harmsworth suggested that the Council ‘try to get to the soft side’ of the military authorities rather than using the Preservation Society. He contacted colleagues in the War Office to obtain their assurance that the Green would be reinstated, and he enclosed their letter with a note of his own, on 10 Downing Street paper!

However the Council had already contacted the Preservation Society. The Society advised they had succeeded having safeguards put in the Defence of the Realm Acquisition of Land Act 1916 for exactly this purpose. They then sent a reminder to the Council to pay their subscription. 

The YMCA and YWCA erected recreation huts on the east side of the Green for the military personnel stationed nearby, with similar assurances to the Council that they would reinstate the land. Postcards from these personnel posted in Houghton Regis are held in a private collection. We hope to share some of these stories in the future. 

The Parish Council must have eventually succeeded in having the Green reinstated. Modern survey techniques such as LIDAR show extensive disruption to the land of the Green and Houghton Hall Park, which may be due to all the activity in World War I. The open spaces of Houghton Regis played their part in the war, and were as valued 100 years ago as they are today.

Thinking of joining the Friends of Houghton Hall Park, then get in touch with us to see what you can do to get involved. Here are some ideas below.

  • Guides for park and trail leaders

  •  Observational surveys

  • Wildlife surveys

  • Fixed point photography

  • Dawn Bird Walk

  • Evening Bat Survey

  • Bird Watching

  • Community Engagement

  • Weeding, clearing, cleaning and gardening

  • Growing food and encourage healthy eating

  • Teach younger generations (if you have skill or qualification let us know!).

  • Become a community leader

  • Support other volunteers

  • Help maintain the horticulturally intensive kitchen and formal gardens

  • Contribute to the annual park events calendar

  • Curate local history talks at the visitor centre

  • Work experience in café when open

  • Habitat enhancement work in the woodland and meadow

There are many opportunities to take part in the park.

If you would like to volunteer and join the Friends of Houghton Hall

Park, please email hhp@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

 

Twitter:  @BedsCountryside

Facebook:  HoughtonHallPark

Website:  www.houghtonhallpark.org

E-mail:  hhp@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

Last updated about 4 months ago