The restoration project
Shibden Estate's Heritage Lottery funded restoration project was completed in 2008, opening up new areas of the park to visitors and providing a new visitor centre and cafe building in the heart of the park.
The restoration project, funded by a £3.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £1.2 million capital funding from Calderdale Council, commenced in 2007. The restoration work has conserved and repaired features within the picturesque landscape that was commissioned by Anne Lister in the 1830s. Further developments in the 1850s, such as the lily pond and the intricate bedding design on the lawn, have also been restored, along with repairs to features that formed part of the new public park when it opened in 1926.
The Heritage Lottery restoration project began with the construction of an exciting new play area, which was completed in the autumn of 2007. The equipment was chosen following consultation with children from within the park and from local schools. Wish lists included the cable ride and covered slide. The play area also includes elements of inclusive play equipment, including the wheelchair accessible roundabout and the basket swing.
Based on historical research in the development phase of the project, the work restored many of the early 19th century features of the Estate. A boathouse was constructed on the site of the original, and repairs to the mere - now boating lake - were carried out. Planting and footpath improvements have been carried out around the mere and in the sunken garden.
Landscape improvements included selective tree removal to open up views of the mere and the hall, and planting of historically appropriate species within the picturesque landscape. The lawn in front of Shibden Hall was originally laid out with an intricate bedding design using shapes found in Paisley shawls originating from the east. This design, by Joshua Major, was re-created from original plans and also by using data from a geophysical survey carried out on the lawn.
The gardener's tunnel, situated under the terrace in front of the hall, was repaired and re-built, enabling visitors to see what would have been the gardener's way through to the parkland from the servants' quarters of the house in the 19th century. An archaeological watching brief throughout the whole construction period has recorded the layers of garden and features within the lawn area that pre-date the construction of the terrace in the 1830s. Finds include clay pipes and pieces of pottery dating back as early as the 17th century. These finds form part of an archaeological report completed as part of the project.
The tunnel under Shibden Hall Road now provides a link between Shibden Hall and Cunnery Wood, the site of the original kitchen garden. This area of native woodland, once home to a rabbit warrenry, has been re-planted with native trees in recent years. The pond is teeming with wildlife and would have originally served as a fish pond to supply the house.
The terraces above the hall have been laid out to a formal fruit garden, incorporating regional apple and pear varieties. Some of the original 18th century plant species have been sourced and planted with the help of The Northern Fruit Group. Named apple varieties such as “Lemon Pippin” and “Hereford Pearmain” were included in accounts for the house expenditure during this period.
The three storey stone lodge designed by John Harper (1809-1842), commissioned by Anne Lister in 1836, has been conserved, with new shutters, roof and pointing throughout. Many of the Estate paths have been improved as part of the conservation work and a self-guided trail is available for visitors, enabling them to interpret the historical and environmental developments of the Estate.
Park facilities have been improved throughout the Estate - Shibden Mereside has brought new life to the park in all seasons of the year. Coffee Culture in the Park manage the cafe and its multi-function rooms, which are available for meetings, celebrations and events. The building has been designed using sustainable materials and principles. The green roof reduces water run-off and improves insulation using the succulent plant, Sedum. A ground source heat pump heats the building using energy from the surrounding land.
A new land train, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Calderdale Council takes visitors around the estate from Shibden Mereside to the hall. Links with Eureka! in the town centre and special joint package tickets are available, and the train can be booked for private tours of the park.
Thanks to the work carried out as part of the restoration project, Shibden is thriving, bringing visitors to the park throughout the year. A wide range of events and activities are on offer along with activities managed privately in the park including pitch & putt, the miniature railway and the boating lake.
If you have any queries or would like more information about the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.