Funding awarded to History Centre to dig deep into gardening archives and support people's health and wellbeing

The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has been awarded £10,000 to showcase the history of gardening through archives, activities and events, and promote its positive impact on physical and mental wellbeing.

Published 12 April 2022

The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has been awarded £10,000 to showcase the history of gardening through archives, activities and events, and help promote its positive impact on physical and mental wellbeing.

The funding has been awarded by the National Archives Testbed Fund, and is being granted to groups and organisations that want to explore or evolve a new idea that has the potential to lead to positive change or improvement to the way archives are kept, preserved, promoted and accessed.

The Wiltshire Council-run Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has chosen gardening as the centrepiece of its work for the funding, taking advantage of the eight miles of archives at the Chippenham located venue.

A community garden, supported by the community group Rooted Chippenham and Chippenham Town Council will be installed in the history centre grounds, inspired by growing heritage plants and vegetables, with people encouraged to join in.

Activities, including talks and workshops on historic gardening will also be organised, with information on growing heritage vegetables and historic uses of plants and vegetables, among other topics.

The council wants to make this a real communal venture, and there will be opportunities for a wide range of people to be involved, from beginners to experienced gardeners. There will be activities people can do on their own or as part of a group.  

With the 1921 census now available for family and local historians, the project will particularly look at 1920s gardens and planting schemes, while also digging deeper into the archives to feature other decades.

Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council and Cabinet Member for Heritage, said: "We're delighted to be awarded this funding as the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has rich historic collections relating to gardens and gardening from its extensive archives.

"This funding will be used to promote the many physical and mental wellbeing benefits of gardening through a variety of interesting and exciting ways, and we're very much looking forward to working with the community on it - from experienced gardeners to budding beginners looking to learn more."

Rebecca Beach and Vanessa Davey - Founders of Rooted Chippenham, said: 'We are delighted to be collaborating with The Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre & Chippenham Town Council on this exciting project.

"Gardening has always been fantastic for physical and mental well-being but not everyone has access to outside space, or sufficient space to grow their own. Our hope is that using this space we will be able to show just what is possible in small areas whilst encouraging the well-being of our wonderful Chippenham community."

Councillor James Bradbury, Chair of the Amenities, Culture and Leisure Committee of Chippenham Town Council said of the project: "Chippenham Town Council is delighted to support this new Community Garden by enabling Rooted to manage the maintenance and development of the area. I am sure this new project will flourish with a programme of inspired events and information to share with the local community."

More information on how people can get involved in the project will be confirmed in due course.

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Published 12 April 2022