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Case Study: Legacy to Landscape: linking King Johns Oak to the future

Title: Legacy to Landscape

Category: Landscapes for Culture, Nature and People
AONB: East Devon

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A three-year HLF supported project designed to engage local people to help them discover or re-discover their local wildlife; landscape and heritage; and to provide opportunities for them to roll up their sleeves and do something positive to enhance it.

What was done

Based upon a 1783 estate map of the Shute Estate which encompasses a medieval deer park, the project has many facets which have a common theme: involving local people in their heritage. Whether that is the natural heritage of wildlife and landscape or the heritage of human activity, we have sought to provide opportunities for local people to learn more about their area.

This has been achieved in the first year by a series of wildlife walks looking at, for example, orchid rich wildflower meadows; pollinators and bats; as well as visits to our 800 year-old veteran King John’s Oak and a search for the very rare, and elusive, Heath Lobelia.

We have organised a number of discovery strolls aimed at people who do not normally enter the countryside offering them a gentle introduction to the therapeutic benefits of our natural environment.

We have also been un-earthing archive materials to see if we can discover more about how the landscape has evolved. By studying old maps and looking at historic estate archives, we are building up a picture of how things have changed over the centuries. This research has been complimented by walks and talks from heritage experts to widen our understanding.

We have engaged with local schools, and youth groups to take our messages to the future guardians of the landscape so that they will begin to value what surrounds them.

Practical tasks make up the final facet of the project whether it is haloing around King John’s Oak to extend its life span; collecting tree seeds to germinate and pot on; making bat boxes; laying hedges, or clearing scrub from wild flower meadows; people have been given an opportunity to make a difference.


In the first year of the project 1079 adults engaged with our activities with 261 children either accompanying them or attending child focus events. In addition we ran 4 whole school sessions with the local primary school for children in the 5 -11 age range.


Fostering community interest and support.

Further information                  

Quote from project manager:

“We have been delighted by the public response to this project and the support that local community groups have given to our Project Coordinator.”

Quote from participant:

“We really enjoyed the evening. Came straight home and wandered round our field collecting grasses, think we found 11.  Very informative, loved the evening.”

Key search words:  Engagement. learning, involvement , community, heritage .

Photo Credits: East Devon AONB