Skip to content

Our work on the estate at Arlington Court

View over the parkland with grazing sheep towards the house at Arlington Court, Devon
View over the parkland with grazing sheep towards the house at Arlington Court | © National Trust Images/Mark Bolton

As well as caring for the house and collection at Arlington, the team undertake important work looking after the garden and estate. In 1949, Miss Rosalie Chichester bequeathed Arlington Court and the surrounding land to the National Trust. Her life’s work was to create a nature reserve on the estate and our team work to help wildlife and nature to thrive and continue this legacy.

Looking after lesser horseshoe bats

Arlington is home to one of the largest colonies of lesser horseshoe bats in Devon, and as such is of international importance. The colony can range from 90-150 bats at any one time.

Monitoring the bats

In the cellars at Arlington we have a camera in the attics monitoring the bat roost. Most of the year it shows a live feed, but when the bats have flown from the roost, we show a recording of them.

Protecting roosting sites

To help the bats thrive, when proposing any changes to the landscape at Arlington the team always consider the possible impact on bat flight lines and look to do succession planting to replace any trees which are dying off.

Bats often have more than one roosting site for different times of the year. On the Arlington estate there are lots of old buildings and barns which provide a secondary home for the lesser horseshoe bats. Nearby there are also suitable old mines and small caves, which the bats can populate.

Lesser horseshoe bat hanging from earth cave roof
Lesser horseshoe bat hanging from earth cave roof | © National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

The help of cattle

The Red Devon cattle which graze the estate help to support the bat colony. Their grazing leaves the grass longer, allowing wildflowers to grow which encourages more food for bats.

The cattle’s dung attracts dung beetles. The beetle’s eggs eventually hatch, and the offspring becomes food for bats.

In August when young bats are first flying, we carefully consider where the cattle should be grazing to provide food for the bats.

Planting new trees

To continue Miss Chichester’s legacy the National Trust began a project in 2019 to plant new trees in the woodland.

We have planted over 7,000 new trees since then, making the woodlands more sustainable and resistant to disease.

We have over 75 small woodland compartments marked from 1949 to 2025, which will each be home to 100 trees consisting of oak, rowan, lime, cherry, spindle, crab apple and Scots pine. Over the next 100 years or so this ‘oak mix’ will develop into mature oak woodlands rich in wildlife.

Family walking on the estate at Arlington Court, Devon.
Family walking on the estate at Arlington Court, | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Great for nature

Oak woodlands are one of the best habitats for wildlife and nature. One mature oak tree can support over 350 separate life forms, from the smallest lichens to large fungi, bats, birds, butterflies and moths.

Tree felling

Unfortunately, our woodlands have recently been affected by phytophthora (confusingly known as ‘sudden oak death’), meaning we’ve had to fell many trees to slow its spread. Fortunately, native oaks, like those we plan to plant, are not affected by this disease which is great news for the future.

Visit Arlington Court to sponsor a tree and find out more about this project.

Thank you

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

Two adults and a child in a pram walk along a garden path at Arlington Court, Devon


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

You might also be interested in

Visitor in the Staircase Hall at Arlington Court, Devon

Our work in the house at Arlington Court 

Discover more about the work being done to care for the collection of over 5,000 items at Arlington Court, including the coaches of the National Trust Carriage Museum.

Conservatory and borders in the flower garden in July at Arlington Court, Devon

History of the garden at Arlington Court 

Find out more about the picturesque pleasure grounds which surround Arlington and how they went from picture perfect to reclaimed by nature, and back again.

Conservatory and borders in the flower garden in July at Arlington Court, Devon

Things to see in the garden at Arlington Court 

From the ever-changing flowers of the formal Victorian Garden to picture-perfect pleasure grounds, the garden at Arlington Court is beautiful whatever the weather. Step into the hidden walled kitchen garden for variety through the seasons.

A painting, 'View of the East Front of the Arlington in 1845' by an unknown artist, now hanging in the Ship Lobby at Arlington Court, Devon

A brief history of Arlington Court 

The house at Arlington Court is the work of generations of the Chichester family. Discover how each heir left their mark on the building you see today.

Four people walking up a grassy hill on the Arlington Court estate

Walking at Arlington Court 

Over 20 miles of footpaths criss-cross the estate at Arlington Court, ranging from easy strolls around the lake to more demanding walks with rewarding views.

A man looking down the guard around a tree sapling, in a landscape dotted with other newly planted trees

Our cause 

We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.

A group of people walking along a grassy path through an avenue of trees in full leaf

For everyone, for ever: our strategy to 2025 

Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.


North Devon Grasslands project 

Newly sown wildflower grassland will connect nature habitats in the North Devon countryside. The project will see grassland cover 1,275 hectares over pockets of land across 70 miles by 2030, from Torridge to west Exmoor.