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Historic Westonbirt Estate reunited for visitors in April

Westonbirt Estate Open Days Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th April 2010

On 12th and 13th April, visitors to Westonbirt - the National Arboretum,
which is managed by the Forestry Commission, will have the chance to
explore the 150-year legacy of the Westonbirt Estate.

This rare opportunity will be included in the price of admission to the
arboretum.

Activities at the arboretum, house and gardens will enable visitors to
step back in time and appreciate the magnificent former home of Robert
Holford, a key figure in Cotswolds history.

Tree team demonstrations and propagation tours will demonstrate how the
arboretum has grown from one man's aspirations, to an internationally
important tree and shrub collection. Over at Westonbirt House, tours,
free access to the gardens and guided walks will show visitors how the
different aspects of the estate were designed to work in harmony.

It is anticipated that the public will soon be able to enjoy the whole
estate all year round, with the success of a Heritage Lottery Funding
application and the planned Westonbirt Project.

Miranda Winram, Westonbirt Project director commented:

"We have ambitious plans to open up the estate to all. Following urgent
conservation work on the stonework and gardens, we plan to increase
access to the picturesque grounds and wider parkland; connecting the
site and preserving it for the future."

Mary Keen, a Holfords of Westonbirt trustee and noted gardening writer
commented on some of the restoration work already underway in the
gardens.

"With the help of a generous grant from the Finnis Scott Trust, work has
begun to restore the unique Victorian herbaceous borders in the Italian
Garden, and by the summer, a new border of exotics will be added next to
the glamorous Camellia House.

"We hope visitors to the open days will be intrigued by the history of
the estate, and share our excitement about the potential to preserve the
legacy for the future."

During the open days, access to Westonbirt house and gardens will be
available via shuttle bus. Parking will be available at the house for
disabled access.

Transfers will run at regular times between the two sites from 10.00.
The last bus from the Arboretum to Westonbirt House will be at 15.00.
The last return bus to the arboretum from the house at 16.30.

Telephone: 01666 880220. www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt

Image shows Holford Ride; the famous avenue which connects The National Arboretum with the Holford estate house, now Westonbirt School.

Westonbirt - the National Arboretum is part of the Forestry
Commission estate and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub
collection. Home to the National Japanese Maple (Acer) collection, the
National Arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000
specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of
23,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy
landowner Robert Holford, and later developed by his son George Holford.
Unlike many arboreta, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic
appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria.

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in
England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable
management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society
and the environment. Further information can be found at
www.forestry.gov.uk

Westonbirt - the National Arboretum is part of the Westonbirt
Heritage Partnership, which consists of the Forestry Commission, Friends
of Westonbirt Arboretum, Westonbirt School and the Holfords of
Westonbirt Trust. The Partnership plans to reconnect the historic
Westonbirt estate, conserve its unique heritage and inspire future
visitors through the Westonbirt Project. Plans for the project have
passed the first rounds of Heritage Lottery Funding application. The HLF
first-round pass means that the Westonbirt Heritage Partnership can now
progress to the second stage of the HLF application process. It has up
to the end of 2010 to submit more detailed plans and to apply for
further funding. www.hlf.org.uk

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity's
objects are to support the National Arboretum in promoting public
understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and
society. It is funded by membership receipts from 23,000 members, other
fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and
activities.

The Holfords of Westonbirt Trust was established in 2006 to restore,
conserve and promote the Holford estate heritage. The Trust leases the
gardens around the house to restore and open them to the public.  The
Trust is funded by entry and events fees and by charitable donations and
grants.

Westonbirt School, an independent girls' boarding and day school, was
founded in 1928. The Westonbirt School Foundation raises funds for
capital projects for the school.  Fee income and commercial activities
fund education and maintenance of school buildings.

Westonbirt The National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QS
Telephone 01666 880220
www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt

Source: Westonbirt The National Arboretum

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