November 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery. Here in Wales National Lottery support has enabled the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) to bring the historic gardens of Cefn Ila back to life, restoring wildlife habitats and creating acres of new native woodland.

It’s been described as one of the finest ‘pinetums’ in Wales; it includes a nineteenth century walled garden and a significant proportion of the local population were born at site! Now it has been lovingly restored, alongside new woodland created around it by the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) with the help and support from National Lottery players through the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a dedicated band of hard working volunteers.

Cefn Ila near Usk in Monmouthshire was once the site of a 19th century mansion and gardens. It belonged to the novelist and adventurer Edward Trelawny and was later acquired by Gerard Gustavius Ducarel, the 4th Marquis de la Pasture, whose family had escaped from France during the Revolution. Between the 1940s and the 1970s it was used as a maternity hospital.

 

Acquired site

The Woodland Trust acquired the site in 2007, planting 36,000 native trees to create a new woodland, and then, seven years later, undertook an ambitious project to restore the historic walled garden, arboretum and ornamental pond to their former glory, making use of a generous £297,700 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The plan has been a hit with local people; the number of monthly visits has shot up from just under 400 in 2014 before the project began, to over 1,300 in 2019. For the last five years, successful ‘Apple Days’ have been held with all kinds of activities and attractions and these have drawn hundreds of visitors to the site.

As part of the project the historic walled garden has been restored, with an enthusiastic group of green fingered volunteers meeting twice a month to keep it in tip-top condition. The artificial pond that was built in the 19th century to supply water to the mansion has been restored as both an ornamental feature and a wildlife habitat and the arboretum, also known as a ‘pinetum’, which was once the pride of the property, has been restored, removing much of the natural regeneration.

Ivor Stokes, former director of the National Botanic Garden of Wales praised the variety of exotic species that now fill this unique feature. He said:
“The 'pinetum' at Cefn Ila contains an incredible mix of conifers along with other trees and shrubs, some of them, such as the cedars, which are enormous, probably date back to the early decades of the 19th century when Trelawney first acquired the estate. Most of the others were probably planted in the second half of that century following the great influx of new species from the Americas and the Far East. Whatever their origins, this collection must rank amongst the finest in Wales and will be well worth a visit.”

Rob Davies, who manages the site for the Woodland Trust said:
“The support we’ve received from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been hugely important, allowing us to do so much that we simply could not afford to do otherwise. There’s now an amazing sculpture trail, a hibernaculum for the bats, and of course the restored pond and walled garden.

“Cefn Ila has become a real haven for wildlife, with newly planted woodland now providing unbroken corridors and linkage between existing ancient woodland. In the past few years we’ve seen the first breeding record in Wales of the beautiful wasp spider, which has spread from South of England, probably due to the climate warming. It is home to a bat maternity roost, and we have song thrushes and marsh tits and a number of priority habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.”

Like all Woodland Trust woods, Cefn Ila is open to the public at any time for free.

Notes for editors

Images: A variety of images of Cefn Ila may be downloaded and used to illustrate this story, from Flickr.

For media enquiries contact: Rory Francis (PR and Campaigns Manager) on 08452 935 738 or 07539 322678, Afallon, Tanygrisiau, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd LL41 3RH. Email roryfrancis@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Or the Woodland Trust press office email media@woodland-trust.org.uk, or telephone 01476 581121

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund  

The National Lottery in numbers

  • 2019 is the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery.  The first draw was broadcast live on BBC1 on 19th November 1994.
  • Each week, National Lottery players raise around £30 million for good causes.  In total almost £40 billion has been raised and awarded to more than 535,000 individual projects – an average of 190 lottery grants in every UK postcode district.
  • In Wales £397 million has been awarded to more than 2,600 heritage projects, including St Fagans National Museum of History, Yr Ysgwrn in Trawsfynydd, Caernarfon Island Site, Dyfi Opsrery Observatory and the Swansea Hafod Morfa Copperworks.

Coed Cadw (The Woodland Trust)

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading charity championing native woods and trees. It has 300,000 members and supporters. The Trust has three key aims: i) to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees; ii) to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future and; iii) to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 28,700 hectares. These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). It offers free public access to nearly all of its sites. The Trust’s Welsh language name, “Coed Cadw”, is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.