The Noticeboards in Houghton Hall Park
Have you ever passed by the noticeboards in Houghton Hall Park, and told yourself, “I'll stop to read that one day”? Well here they are, and here is what they have to say.
Houghton Hall Park
Park LifeThe woods and meadows of Houghton Hall Park form part of the Houghton Regis Conservation Area and are looked after as a place to relax and enjoy. The 41 acres of countryside in the Park attracts a range of wildlife, from moles and shrews in the meadows to grey squirrels - and black ones, too if you look hard enough! - in the woodlands.
Small and secretive muntjac are most often seen in the Park at dusk as they feed on grass, brambles and other plants. Often known as the 'barking deer', they were introduced to the Duke of Bedford's Woburn estate about 1900. Since then they have been rapidly spreading from Bedfordshire into much of England.
Like the muntjac, out local foxes are most often spotted during the early hours and late evenings. Birds such as woodpeckers, owls and sparrowhawks can all be found in the Park, while the woods are home to wrens, nuthatches and long-tailed tits.
Park trees, planted by the Victorians, include the majestic Atlantic cedar - the Park's logo - as well as walnut, holm oak and beech. More recent plantings include large numbers of hazel, hawthorn, field maple and guelder rose.
A carpet of snowdrops, along with winter aconites, bluebells and daffodils brighten up the Park's woodlands from early spring. Later, these give way to a variety of summer flowers including the rounded pink spikes of teasels and the yellow flowers of mullein and St John's wort.
Recognised by its distinctive 'yaffle' or laugh, and its undulating flight, the green woodpecker likes a mixture of woodland and open grassland, making the Park an ideal habitat. On the ground, it moves in a series of long hops.
Formerly known as the swamp elder, because of its preference for damp places and its red berries, the guelder rose also grows happily in the Park's woodlands and 'shelter belts'. Though poisonous to people, the berries are a favourite food of winter birds such as fieldfares and redwings.
The meadow cranesbill blooms from June to September. Its flowers can range from bluish to soft purple.
A Valuable Resource
Welcome to Houghton Hall Park and its restored kitchen garden. The park is named after Houghton Hall which stands over to your right, beyond the row of houses called Houghton Court. From 1700 — the year of its building — until 1913, Houghton Hall was home to the Brandreth family.
The Brandreths' of Houghton Hall
The Brandreths' association with Houghton Regis began with the arrival of Henry Brandreth (1610-1673) in 1652. A rich London merchant and important parliamentarian, he bought the small estate of Sewell now (sic) in the town parish. He took up residence in the Manor House which stood on the far side of The Green behind you. It was Alice Brandreth, daughter of Henry, who had Houghton Hall built, buying the land needed for £1,750.00
Over the next century, successive family owners increased their influence over the surrounding land, creating formal gardens around the hall, lawns and a parkland landscape with extensive southerly views.
The Renaissance and Renewal Project
This project is managed by Central Bedfordshire Council in partnership with Houghton Regis Town Council and is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. The Houghton Regis Heritage Society are also involved in the project which aims to restore the vitality of the park, celebrate local heritage and improve visitor facilities to meet the needs of a growing community.
The Renaissance and Renewal Project is bringing together local groups and communities to take care of the park. One such example is the kitchen garden before you, which has been re-created as part of this project.
Head to our Visitor Centre for further information about the park and its history and to discover upcoming events. Relax with a drink, hot or cold, and a snack in the cafe while enjoying views of the park. There are bookable community spaces available for many types of groups, businesses and functions.
Please enjoy and respect
Please respect the environment and all of the hard work which has created the park you see today. Please pick up after your dog and dispose of litter in the bins provided.