A NATURE reserve said to have inspired Shakespeare has received £40,900 lottery cash to reveal its heritage secrets.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) will use the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, along with £2,000 from Stratford District Council, to transform the way Welcombe Hills and Clopton Park Nature Reserve’s history and natural surroundings can be explored.
The 12-month project, called A Wild Welcombe, will see the trust team-up with young people from Warwick-based Playbox Theatre to create a brand new audio trail and interpretation boards.
Starring the young thespians, the audio trail will be available for download and through an app and will lead visitors around the reserve’s natural and archaeological features telling the history and folklore.
While the area has strong Shakespearean links, they are not the only stories the reserve has to tell. The trail and boards will also cover topics including the Clopton family, a number of listed historical structures, ancient trees and a variety of plants and wildlife – information currently not available for visitors.
The Playbox youngsters will take on the role of researchers, writers and performers and will work closely with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford Library and the Stratford Society.
WWT project co-ordinators – youth engagement officer Matt Cox and wildlife engagement officer Ben Devine – will also support those involved.
Matt said: “This project represents something quite different from what the trust has done before, but I think the superb partnerships we have created with Playbox Theatre and the local history groups will set us up for a great success and a really exciting opportunity for young people in the area to create a high-quality audio trail that will really add value and interest to the area.”
Reyahn King, Head of HLF West Midlands, said they were delighted to support the project.
She said: “Young people are the future custodians of our heritage and it’s fantastic to see Playbox Theatre members taking such a central role in creating an engaging gateway into the relatively unknown history of the nature reserve and surrounding area.”