Historic estate to be restored to former glory

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The historic Stackpole Estate in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is to be restored to its former glory with the help of Forestry Commission Wales.

The estate, which once belonged to the Earls of Cawdor, is home to the famous Bosherton Lily Ponds, created when three narrow valleys were flooded between 1780 and 1860.

It also contains woodlands of national importance because of the animals and plants which live in them and because of their archaeological heritage.

Now, FC Wales has agreed to fund a five-year programme of work by the National Trust, which acquired the estate in 1976, so that Stackpole can once again take its place among the most stunning landscapes in the country.

Work has already begun to clear some of the invasive shrubs and weeds from the woodlands where greater and lesser Horseshoe bats roost in the trees and otters shelter near to the ponds.

When the Trust inherited the estate, parts of the 235 hectares of woodlands were dark and overgrown, infested with cherry laurel, rhododendron and Japanese knotweed which posed a threat to rare lichens growing on tree trunks.

The woods are so sensitive that FC Wales consulted the Countryside Council for Wales, heritage body CADW and Dyfed Archaeology on the work needed to protect the species and historic remains.

Rachel Chamberlain, the Operations Manager for FC Wales’s Grants and Regulation team, said the work would bring environmental and social benefits as well as help to preserve the special landscape character of Wales.

“Cherry laurel is a particular problem in these important woodlands as it encourages erosion of the land, which then silts up the famous lily ponds.

“We were delighted to help the Trust to turn back the clock and restore the estate to the spectacular landscape created in the 18th and 19th century by the Campbells of Cawdor.”

Future work includes removing 1960s conifer plantations and replanting the land with a more native mixture of trees – predominantly oak and ash – and gradually restoring the ancient woodlands.

FC Wales has also given permission to fell a group of trees which will open up the most spectacular view on the estate, from the site where the demolished Stackpole Court mansion once stood.

Shane Logan from the National Trust said, “This will encompass the very views the Campbells of Cawdor would have enjoyed in the mid 19th century, creating a panorama which will stretch in a 170 degree arc from the famous Eight Arch Bridge, up the lake system below where the house once stood, and finishing in the upper eastern arm of the lake system.

“We’ll be planting trees in other parts of the estate to compensate for the felling. It’s vital that we continue the work of previous generations and provide timber and maintain our woodlands into the future.”

An extra benefit is that wood from coppicing and felling trees will feed the newly-installed woodchip boiler in the Stackpole Centre for Outdoor Learning.

When the Campbell family of Cawdor Castle in Scotland acquired Stackpole in 1689, it became their principal seat until the beginning of the 20th century. In the 18th and 19th century, the Campbells added many landscape features, including planting extensive woodlands, a deer park, pleasure grounds and three man-made lakes crossed by an eight-arch bridge.

By the time the National Trust acquired the property, all the contents had been sold and the grand mansion demolished. The carefully planned views and vistas had been lost and the lakes partly silted up.


About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to other woodland owners and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

The National Trust was founded in 1895 to care for places of historic interest or natural beauty. In Wales, it cares for over 45,000 hectares of countryside, 140 miles of coastline as well as some of the finest castles and gardens. The Trust is the largest conservation organisation in Europe, supported by 3.7 million members, 100,000 of whom live in Wales. As a charity it relies on membership subscriptions, gifts and other voluntary support to meet its £148 m annual conservation and maintenance costs. The Trust’s properties have unique legal protection “inalienability” – they cannot ever be sold or mortgaged without permission of Parliament.

For further information contact Llyr Huws Gruffydd, The National Trust Wales Press Office on 01492 860123 or 07786 278895 or  or go to the National Trust website at

Media enquiries to Forestry Commission Wales press officer Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email