Having survived almost intact in its original form until the 18th century, we are now returning and restoring Haddon’s Medieval Park back to its 14th century form of an organic, regenerative, open, woodland pasture parkland. Complemented by the multitude of diverse habitats which sit within the original boundaries, the park is a paradise of rich biodiversity and heath, beneficial to all.
In 2009 Lord Edward Manners decided to restore Haddon’s Medieval parkland and converted all the land within it to organic management and entered a Stewardship Scheme which reverted two thirds of the farmed land back into regenerative, open, parkland and woodland pasture. Almost immediately, one could see dramatic signs of nature’s return and the biodiversity of the land flourishing.
Building on this ecological success, in 2019 the Haddon Estate received further funding from Natural England and DEFRA under the organically managed Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship scheme for the continuation of the Medieval Parkland Restoration Plan, which will convert the last of the arable land back into regenerative open woodland pasture, restoring the parkland to its original 14th century form.
As in the olden days, the first step to creating a park is to set its perimeter and release the land within. This is being done now, with a boundary fence being erected along the 14th century park line, and all internal fences being removed and field hedgerows reduced, taking away all artificial divides.
527 native, broadleaf, parkland trees have been carefully positioned and planted and a small herd of rare breed English Longhorns, and a few tame sheep, have been set to roam free, giving nature in the parkland its best chance of regeneration and allowing the landscape of the past to re-emerge.
To complement these measures, there is also an experiment being implemented on the former arable fields. Ecologists from Natural England have prescribed that 50% of the land should be left to naturally regenerate and the remainder be seeded with a conservation grass and wildflower mix, with animals not permitted to graze. It is a challenge between man and nature to see who performs best and the data created from this scheme will help determine the processes of future regeneration projects, locally and afar.