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Our work at Wimpole Estate

Volunteers working in the Walled Garden at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
Volunteers working in the Walled Garden at Wimpole Estate | © National Trust Images/Mike Hodgson

Important work takes place at Wimpole every day to help look after this special place for everyone, for ever. Take a look at some of the things that we are doing, and previous projects that have taken place.

Our work on the estate

Our team of rangers work around the estate on a range of tasks throughout the year, including monitoring and managing the condition of trees, maintaining footpaths and the wider parkland for our visitors.

Tree Planting

Funded by a DEFRAs Higher Level Scheme (HLS) grant is our tree planting vision in the parkland. Following extensive historical research at Wimpole, a full tree planting plan has been drawn up and approved, so the aim now is to plant 1,000 trees in 10 years.

This is usually completed over the winter, so if you see tree guards springing up in the parkland, this will be the next phase of tree planting.

Our work in the hall

To prepare for the daily house opening, the Wimpole team have 30 rooms to clean, filled with a vast array of different pieces of furniture, ceramics, bronzes, fireplaces and more. The team vacuum miles of carpet daily, dust furniture and de-cobweb ready for visitors to arrive. There are also many more rooms in the house visitors don’t always get to see that need looking after too, such as storerooms, a wine cellar and bedrooms.

There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes including inventory audits, ceramic cleaning, light monitoring, humidity and temperature checks, inventory marking, clock-winding, book cleaning, checking all 27 pest traps, checking for leaks, polishing floors and more to ensure the hall is cared for.

Staff member at work on a ladder to the shelves in the Library at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire
Staff member at work in the Library at Wimpole | © National Trust Images

Our work on the farm

Our farm team work year-round to care for the rare breed animals at Home Farm. Their day starts at 8am, the pigs are fed and work begins on mucking out all of the housed animals on the farm before visitors arrive. Not only do the animal pens need to be clean and comfy but the whole farmyard must be tidy and hygienic, ready for you to explore.

Many barrows of hay are distributed to the horses, goats, sheep and donkeys, whilst the large machinery feeds and mucks out the cattle. The horses either go out to the fields or come in for the day depending on the time of year. Their hooves are cleaned and coats brushed ready for whatever work they will do that day. All of the livestock grazing the parkland are checked on every day, the team drive around the estate checking that no gates have been left open, the livestock are well and content and that they have enough grass for the time of year.

There is never a quiet day on the farm – from new life at lambing and calving to litters of piglets year-round in the piggery. The farm team work with local vets to arrange vaccinations and health checks, and order feed and medicines. The Shire horses are visited by the local farrier regularly to be re-shoed. Day to day, the team can be found carting hay and straw to the farm for the animals feed and bedding, taking the muck away from the farm to spread on the arable land, exercising the horses and cleaning their harness, collecting eggs from the hens and updating signs and information around the farm for our visitors.

Home Farm's Animal Welfare License

Our work in the garden

The Wimpole garden team are a four-person staff unit supported by a hugely talented and diverse volunteer force delivering all aspects demanded by a complex and many-layered garden.

From planting spring flowering bulbs in the depths of winter to add to the nationally important daffodil display, to fencing, land-drainage, ditching, design, propagation and installation of herbaceous and perennial borders, espalier pruning and orchard and meadow management. Summer sees the team topiarising the extensive box and yew hedging, whilst maintaining fruit and vegetable production in the highly productive five-acre walled garden. Alongside this, the team have miles of grass to mow and in autumn, leaves to collect and the Walled Garden and Orchard to harvest.

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Apple Harvest at Wimpole Estate

The orchard at the National Trust's Wimpole Estate has well over 300 apple trees, made up of 50 varieties of heritage apples. Each year we harvest the apples by hand, then once they're ripe, they are juiced and bottled in Cambridgeshire. The money we raise from our apple juice, then goes back into supporting our vital conservation work on the estate.

Our position on the Cambourne to Cambridge Busway

We have concerns with the new public transport infrastructure that’s being proposed between Cambourne and Cambridge.

We understand and support the need for sustainable transport schemes that will improve journey times and reduce congestion for local residents. However, the proposal would have an adverse impact on a valued landscape, which has intrinsic visual, natural, historic and cultural significance, and is fundamental to preserving the setting and special character of the historic city of Cambridge.

We are also concerned by the proposed removal of a significant number of trees at Coton Orchard. To date, the developers have not yet provided sufficient information to satisfy our concerns in terms of appropriate mitigation.

The National Trust has an interest in the scheme, due to covenants over land in the parish of Coton. We have shared our disappointment and concerns with the Greater Cambridge Partnership and will continue to speak with them regarding this matter.

Completed Projects at Wimpole

Wimpole has a number of both large and small projects that have taken place over the last few years. Here are just a few examples.

Thatched farm buildings and farmyard at Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire
Thatched farm buildings at Wimpole Home Farm | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Re-thatching the Great Barn

The Great Barn has been re-thatched and given a spruce up with new sedge and reed on the main roof and also new ridging. The other thatched buildings in the historical farmyard will be completed over the next few years.

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Archaeological discoveries at Wimpole

As part of the exciting new visitor welcome and car park project in 2018, archaeologists investigated part of the ancient landscape of Wimpole, revealing a Late Iron Age to Early Roman (c.100BC – 150AD) rural settlement.

In July 2018, Oxford Archaeology East started the dig and over the next three months uncovered a site that surpassed their expectations. Two roundhouses were revealed, one with its central hearth intact, although in general, structural remains on site were relatively scarce. This may have been largely due to the 19th century coprolite mining, which had disturbed much of the potential ‘core’ of the settlement. Toward the ‘edge’ of the settlement was also a rudimentary corn dryer and a near complete but broken Roman pot found within a ditch indicates that local pottery was made on site at Wimpole.

So far, we have perhaps in the region of 300 metal objects including coins, cosmetic implements, horse harness fittings, Roman military uniform fittings, a spearhead, an axe head, key handles, brooches, a ring as well as scrap lead and a number of iron nails and other utilitarian objects.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

The Gothic Tower on Johnson's Hill on the Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate today and you could help people and nature to thrive at the places we care for.

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