Changes to the Grounds 2016
12 Years of volunteering have seen many changes taking place at this fabulous grade 2* house. The grounds have been transformed from what was little more than a wilderness, to an inviting and peaceful garden featuring many rare and some nationally important planting. In 2016 the first major improvement for visitors entering the site is the resurfaced driveway which was completed earlier in the year. Preparation work was carried out by volunteers prior to the contractors’ resurfacing. Poltimore House Trust in conjunction with Devon County Council Transforming Lives Project, which brings volunteers to the site, received a grant from Public Health England to provide materials and equipment to assist volunteers with maintenance and improvement on the site.
Lately a small growing area has been created, edged by tree whips that will be cut back to form a hedge and also fenced with rabbit/deer proof fencing. Volunteers have constructed two polytunnels, one is up and running, and the other is nearing completion. A water supply from the site’s underground storage tanks is being connected. Volunteers will be encouraged to grow food to eat and for sale to visitors.
The grant also provided materials for “all weather” paths around the grounds, old drainage channels that had become blocked have been dug out and cleared and new pipes laid. Elsewhere safety improvements have been carried out in the car park to improve traffic flow.
Wet weather early this year hampered our activities. However we decided there was no better time to create a water feature around the natural spring which flows through the well in the orchard area. This involved clearing logs and undergrowth, then widening the banks to form a series of ponds and waterfalls down to the drainage channel that runs through the poplar tree avenue. The banks were planted up with irises and ferns. It is intended to plant more wild flowers in the area to encourage butterflies and bees. A lot of frogspawn was found in the boggy areas along the front drive and this was transferred to the new ponds resulting in a thriving frog population in this area.
On the historical side a small test pit has recently been dug by members of the Poltimore Estate Research Society (PERS) to establish whether a canal depicted in a 1716 Prideaux drawing did in fact exist or was just a suggested garden design. A wall has been uncovered proving that the canal did exist where it was estimated to be. Further research by means of ground penetrating radar equipment has recently been undertaken and results are currently being analysed. The pit has been left open for the time being for the benefit of visitors with an explanatory information board placed beside it.
Britain's Heritage Heroes
Poltimore House and its community of volunteers chosen as one of Britain's Heritage Heroes
Poltimore House was featured on the BBC2 programme Britain’s Heritage Heroes on Wednesday 22 February 2012.
Back in September John Craven and Jules Hudson and the team burst onto the Poltimore House scene, to find out all about the huge volunteer efforts going into the project to restore the house and bring it back into use for the community of East Devon and Exeter. They met Friends and Trustees, heard about how the stucco in the famous Saloon was made (and now needs restoration) and learnt about the contribution of the Shilhay Community to the development of the Project Centre, created from renovation of the building that housed the 1908 kitchens.
John and Jules have been tracked on three heritage hero journeys across England and we saw what they made of Devon – and Poltimore House.
Tern Television says: ‘Devon is home to five areas of outstanding natural beauty and two national parks. It's a stunning county filled with people keen to keep the heritage of every beach, bay and pasture alive. John Craven and Jules Hudson try traditional farming with shire horses, learn about the craft of cob building and visit two historic homes providing their communities with a place to enjoy once again’.
More information about the series can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01c32hw
Poltimore House needs your help! We have all kinds of opportunities for volunteering and welcome all skills and expertise.
Volunteers help with our many events (details on our website and leaflet), work in the grounds and on building renovation, and on organisation and administration. Come and hear about the project and what you can contribute, what new skills you can learn.