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Leighton Hall Sows Seeds for “Inspiring” 2024 Season

History, it has been said, informs and inspires us to step more compassionately into the future. That’s what visitors to Leighton Hall, near Carnforth, will soon have the chance to discover in the flesh, thanks to pioneering green initiatives, community partnerships, and a lot of behind the scenes work across the estate.

The historic hall, its unique Gillow craftsmanship, mature gardens, woods and rolling parkland are a perennially popular draw. With the eagerly-anticipated 2024 public open days beginning on May 1st, the challenges of making a Grade II* listed historic house sustainable for the 21st century will be on full and interactive display.

This year’s early visitors will discover colourful new floral walks, thanks to thousands of indigenous bulbs sown in partnership with local primary schools and dementia care groups. The blooms support endangered native butterflies and pollinators, including Leighton’s very own bees, which visitors are fascinated to see drinking from the dedicated “bee baths”.

Under the care of head gardener Jordan Lewis, produce from the historic orchard and vegetable gardens is used in the traditional tearooms- a food journey that can be measured in feet, not miles. The fruits of “teambuilding days with a difference” can be seen in insect hotels, pollinator pyramids and wildlife havens built and sponsored by local companies.

Estate manager Lucy Arthurs reflects on the culmination of months of preparation. “We’re open year-round for schools and groups, so there really isn’t a dedicated gap for big projects, like refurbishing the Victorian conservatory- we’ve become experts in juggling!

“Increasing year-round activities like our forest school, dementia walks, and working visits from charity Silverdale Woodbank enable us to share our wonderful resources with our local community, which is so important to us. But there’s nothing like opening the gates to the public, and our summer events are just round the corner. The Shakespeare in the Garden this July is “The Tempest”, which is apt, as I do feel at the centre of a whirlwind sometimes!”

Leighton is also encouraging people to think about how they visit: recommending public transport, local footpaths and cycle routes, and combining visits with neighbouring attractions.

A generous Residents’ Pass, gives those living in the LA1 to LA11 postcode areas 50% off adult entry, and for the first time Historic Houses cardholders can have free entry for the open season. It’s a good thing summer’s only just starting!

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