Our work on the estate at Arlington Court
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.
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.
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.
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.
With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.
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.