Stanton Park, Wiltshire ……. only 7 miles away yet never visited in our 32 years of living at the southern tip of the Cotswolds! A phone call from our daughter led to us meeting there late morning followed by a wonderful slow walk through just a small part of this medieval forest. Marked trails took us around a lake, near nesting swans, seeing Redwoods, fungi, Marsh Marigolds in “swamps” and streams, a wide variety of birds, squirrels before settling down in the Stanton Park Hotel for an afternoon Cream Tea!
“Stanton’s rich history is reflected in the evidence of a Roman Villa from around 200AD, (although there are no visible remains today), and the lost Swindon to Highworth railway. The ‘Manor of Stantone’ was recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086. In 1995 the house became a private hotel, and Swindon Borough Council purchased the 74-hectare grounds with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 1996.”
“The park was officially opened in 2000, and has gradually evolved from a medieval estate and landscaped parkland in the nineteenth century, through to encompassing a Local Nature Reserve in the new millennium. An inspirational “Forgotten Kingdom” fungus interpretation room opened in 2009. The farm buildings are currently being restored to encompass further visitor facilities.”
“The park provides an exceptionally wide range of habitats, such as remnants of ancient woodland, hedgerows, wildflower meadows, wetlands, a lake, streams and a series of recently restored ponds. There are over 900 species of fungi found at Stanton Park, which makes it an extremely special site just for this alone.”
“These habitats are home to a correspondingly large variety of life, including birds of prey, wildfowl, amphibians, invertebrates and large mammals (including roe-deer and badgers). At dusk or early morning, owls, bats and moths may be heard or seen. The working landscape is designed to please the eye, with grassland punctuated by a mixture of mature, specimen hardwood trees. In 2003 Local Nature Reserve status was acquired for 36 hectares of the park that included the lake, woodland and grassland.”