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Elvaston news

The latest news from Elvaston Castle Country Park.

Riverside feeder stream

Water levels in Elvaston’s feeder streams

There's been some concern amongst regular visitors to the park about the water levels in some of Elvaston’s perimeter streams. One in particular, that borders the riverside path, has little or no water flowing.

For a number of years the water levels in the feeder streams and estate lake have been artificially high, predominantly due to a gradual increase in silt levels and an inability to effectively regulate the flow of water through the sluice gate or penstock, which feeds water into the estate from the River Derwent. Over time, these high levels will have a detrimental effect on the historic fabric of the estate grounds, in particular the trees, which form an integral part of Elvaston’s historic significance. Some tree loss has already occurred, which is likely to have been caused by these high water levels.

In 2016, as part of our ongoing investigations into the drainage systems across the estate and with the intention of more effectively regulating water levels across the site to preserve the gardens, we were able to free up the valve with the support of external expertise, which was jammed open. It was subsequently partially closed to reduce water flow and monitor the impact on ground water levels across the wider historic estate.

One effect of this has been the drying up of the feeder stream along riverside path. Whilst this exposes accumulated silt and may look unsightly, causing some concern, the remaining feeder streams are now maintaining appropriate water levels throughout the designated local nature reserve and estate. The local heron population continues to have extensive feeding grounds and fish can move freely along more inland streams, whilst ground conditions across the park, particularly after rain, are much improved.

This work is ongoing and due to the complicated drainage systems across the site, is likely to take some time to complete. It includes, for example, an assessment of the lake silt.

Please bear with us whilst we try to resolve some difficult drainage issues across the estate, whilst ensuring there is minimal disruption to wildlife long term.

Lakeside installation of cedar sculpture

Throughout August 2016 visitors may have seen Elvaston’s artist in residence tirelessly creating an abstract sculpture from a large piece of cedar outside the entrance to Elvaston’s Gothic Hall, or Hall of Fair Star. The fallen timber came from a mature Cedar tree that once proudly stood next to the castle building. The final sculpture now lies near Elvaston’s lake margin, with a fitting backdrop once again. Dale Martin Shields (resident sculptor 2016) has been in the business of creative Art and Design for the last 30 years and describes his work:

"Embodied in my work are questions around legacy, experience, memory, and sense of place. Although my work specifically reflects the human experience it encourages us to consider a new reality and a different way of seeing. I sculpt using traditional techniques by hand. This sculpture is an abstract representation of the female form. Sculpting by hand rather than machine allows the process to be slowed down. This in turn creates the space for the sculpture to evolve more naturally as I uncover the figure within it."

The sculpture is called Woman.

A story central to Elvaston Castle and its estate is that of the love between the fourth Earl of Harrington and Maria Foote, an actress from London, who took up residence at Elvaston Castle in 1831 after their marriage. The fourth earl commissioned numerous design changes to the gardens to symbolise his love for Maria and it is fitting that Dale has managed to capture some of that spirit of place in his sculpture, so many years on.

Parking machines and new £1 coins

The two ticket machines within the pay and display car park have not yet been validated to accept the new £1 coins that came out earlier this year. The car park machine supplier (Metric) have scheduled the validation of all our pay and display machines by the end of June 2017.

This does mean that if you wish to pay by cash you will need to keep hold of your old £1 coins, as the machines will not yet accept the new ones. The machines do accept the following coins:

  • 10p
  • 20p
  • 50p
  • old £1 coins
  • £2 coins.

The staff at Elvaston would like to thank everyone inconvenienced for both their patience and understanding in the interim.

North Leicester MG Club’s 2017 Charnwood Caper Run to Elvaston Castle Country Park

On Sunday 7 May 2017, Elvaston Castle Country Park played host to over eighty classic and sports cars which were taking part in the Charnwood Caper Run, an event organised by the North Leicester MG Club. The run followed a 75-mile route before arriving at the park at around noon. 

With a single rank of vehicles lined up on either side of one of the park’s roadways, the display of cars included examples from every decade since the 1930s, and attracted a lot of interest from the parks many visitors. Besides the contingent of over seventy MGs, eleven other marques were represented.

Nearly half of this year’s entrants had done the “Caper” before and this year participating crews travelled from twelve different counties. The longest journey was undertaken by the crew of a 1979 MGB Roadster, who received a prize for their 96-mile drive from Shropshire.

If you fancy holding your own event at Elvaston Castle Country Park we’d love to hear from you! Please see our events or contact us, email: or tel: 01629 533870.

Livestock on Clover Close

A small number of Highland Cattle have been introduced onto Clover Close as part of the creation of a Coronation Meadow, supported by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with funding secured from the Landfill Communities Fund.

The cattle are large and also have distinctive horns! Although this might be intimidating for some, Highland Cattle are a docile, calm breed generally unconcerned by people and dogs, if left alone.

The cattle have been specifically chosen for their conservation grazing value, particularly in light of Clover Close retaining remnants of its original ridge and furrow.

Our sincere thanks goes to all those volunteers that have helped to launch the project, especially those that got involved over the summer to help with spreading the green hay! Our thanks also go to Long Eaton Natural History Society (LENS Wildlife Group) for their support with species recording to date.

To give this project its best chance of success, please keep to the clearly waymarked public right of way.

Dogs must be on leads or under close control at all times.

Coronation Meadow

In 2012 the Patron of Plantlife, HRH The Prince of Wales, highlighted the loss of wild flowers since the Coronation in 1953 and called for the creation of new wild flower meadows, at least one in every county, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Coronation. They are to be called Coronation Meadows.

In early 2016, working with the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and Rare Breeds Survival Trust, we secured funding from the Landfill Communities Fund to support the creation of a Coronation Meadow on Clover Close at Elvaston.

Conservation grazing using suitable breeds will be introduced, the meadow becoming actively managed over time for an improved hay crop including wild flowers and, of course, clover!

Please be aware that live stock will soon be introduced onto Clover Close.

Dog mess can be a risk to cattle! Please clean up after your dog, stay on the waymarked right of way and keep dogs under close control.

Interactive sculptures created at Elvaston Castle

Visitors can enjoy interactive sculptures along the perimeter of the showground, as part of Elvaston’s Art in the Park project.

The sculptures were designed and built by around 120 staff from Rolls-Royce (Trent 800/RB211 Project Team).

The brief for the project was to create a series of interactive and linked natural timber sculptures that would be flexible in their use and for everyone to enjoy. Each sculpture or structure simply had to include at least one seat and one window – both of which were open to interpretation!

The Rolls–Royce teams working on site were keen to show that they were capable of doing things differently, which fits well with our Future Elvaston Project, working hard to move Elvaston towards a different and more sustainable future.

The natural sculptures will add another creative dimension to Elvaston, which we hope our visitors will enjoy! We too feel that it is important to be open to new ideas and doing things differently on our countryside and heritage sites.

Traditional sweets hit the streets!

Your grand children have never tried sour fishes? Your children have never heard of pear drops?

Ever fancied stepping back in time to when sweets were lined up in jars on the shelf? Well now is your chance! This summer, come in and try our brand new range of traditional sweets, all weighed out in the old fashioned way, paper bag and all…

We have all the old favourites including:

  • pear drops
  • old fashioned humbugs
  • bonfire toffee
  • chocolate limes
  • sherbet lemons
  • sour fishes
  • rhubarb and custard rock
  • bonbons
  • and many more...

Of course, if you don’t see your favourite – just let us know and we will do our best to order some for next time you come!

Elvaston’s historic topiary under threat

Recently our gardeners and site staff have been saddened to see the extent of damage now evident within Elvaston’s yew topiary. The Italian garden in particular, located on the south side of the castle, has suffered from numerous breakages this year. Unfortunately it will take decades to ‘repair’ every hole that is made - and in some cases the topiary is beyond recovery.

Encouragingly, most damage is not deliberate, but caused by people not realising how fragile topiary is. Children and young people climbing into or onto the topiary, unfortunately are the greatest cause of breakages and damage.

Topiary is the art of training trees and shrubs by clipping, cutting and trimming them to develop shapes, sometimes in the form of animals, but often geometric or fanciful. It is slow and laborious, taking decades before any height or shape can be formed, being dependent upon the growth rate of the tree or shrub being maintained. Elvaston Castle is renowned for its yew topiary, including the peacock, crown bush and gently undulating hedges.

The Italian garden was created by the fourth earl’s head gardener, William Barron, in the 1800s. It once boasted marble statues and marble busts on stone bases. The topiary that remains today is the remnant pattern of trimmed evergreens, now well over a century old.

Once Elvaston’s gardens had very few visitors; now they have at least 360,000 visitors each year. Once the topiary was maintained by as many as 80 gardeners; now they are maintained by six.

Elvaston’s gardens are of historic significance and are grade II* listed by English Heritage. Please help us to raise awareness of their importance and to preserve them for future generations.

Elvaston’s Commemorative Tree Planting Scheme

If you would like to commemorate an important event - whether a birthday, engagement, marriage, or to remember the passing of a loved one - Elvaston can offer you the opportunity of having a commemorative tree planted within this historic park.

As Elvaston Castle Country Park is Grade II* listed by English Heritage, being recognised as being of historic importance or significance, our focus is to gradually re-place (like-for-like) some of the prominent historic trees that have been lost to stormy weather, natural decline or disease.

Wherever possible our aim is to follow the planting schemes of William Barron, who originally laid out the gardens in the 18th century.

Trees are generally planted between October and March (weather conditions permitting) and are limited in number each year. If you would like more information about Elvaston’s Commemorative Tree Scheme, please see the link below or contact the park office tel: 01629 533870.

Yellow Dog project

This project was created to raise awareness of dogs who need a bit more space than other dogs.

This might be because they are still in training, recovering from surgery or being rehabilitated. Or it might just be a grumpy dog that doesn't like to be pestered by other dogs!

If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon or perhaps a yellow bandana attached to its leash or on the dog, this is a signal to you that this is a dog that needs some extra space.

Please do not approach this dog, or its owner(s) or handler with your dog and give them time to move out of your way.

For further information about the project or to get a free Yellow Dog Project ribbon, visit their website.

Both Elvaston and Shipley Country Parks support the Yellow Dog Project and always welcome dogs and their responsible owners.

Poop scoop bags are available on site and there are waste bins throughout both parks - please continue to help us keep our parks clean and healthy places to visit by cleaning up after your dog.

Elvaston’s Castle toilets to be refurbished spring 2017

Elvaston’s Castle toilets are soon to be upgraded with improved lighting and ventilation. 

The modern partition is being removed and a series of enclosed toilet pods are being created. 

The number of cubicles has had to be reduced to enable fully accessible toilets and baby changing facilities. In addition, the existing concrete floor is to be replaced with an anti-slip resin screed.

Work is due to start late February / early March and will take around 12 weeks to complete. The work will inevitably cause some disruption over this period, including the school Easter holiday and the early May spring bank holiday. 

Alternative toilet facilities are available in the cobbled courtyard adjacent to the information centre and shop. Additional temporary toilets will also be provided nearby.