The Heritage Lottery Fund has unveiled a host of multimillion-pound grants to attractions including the RHS Garden in Wisley and the Magna Carta site in Runnymede.
A £4 million grant will help RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey to develop the world’s first National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, due to open in 2020.
Thousands of plant and insect specimens, plus 100,000 books charting more than 500 years of gardening history, will be moved to the new centre – which will be surround by three new gardens.
Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “Over the next five years, thanks to National Lottery players, we will reveal incredible horticultural treasures to the public so people can experience the wonders of gardening and see why we need everyone everywhere to garden and grow plants for the good of people, plants and the planet.”
Meanwhile, a grant of £1.6 million will help unify the two sites of Runnymede and Ankerwycke, on the banks of the Thames near Windsor.
Runnymede is the site where barons forced King John to seal Magna Carta in 1215, and Ankerwycke is home to Benedictine priory ruins and the Ankerwycke yew – the National Trust’s oldest tree at 2,500 years old.
The planned work will create improved pathways and interpretation, and a new ferry crossing across the Thames.
Ros Kerslake, HLF chief executive, said: “There are few places in the UK that rival Runnymede in terms of its profound influence on our national heritage. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, these thoughtful and sensitive improvements will enhance this special place for everyone to enjoy.”
Other recent HLF announcements include:
• Whitley Bay’s Spanish City opens on July 23, following a multimillion-pound refurbishment, funded in part by a £3.47 million HLF grant.
The revived venue is key to North Tyneside’s coastal regeneration plans and is set to be a major regional attraction with thousands of visitors every year.
• The main hall of the Battersea Arts Centre will re-open in September, thanks in part to a £3.4 million HLF grant.
• Three ‘at risk’ historic London buildings will share a £7 million lottery grant: Boston Manor, Brentford; Leighton House Museum, Kensington; and Newington Green Meeting House in Hackney.
Stuart Hobley, Head of HLF London, said: “Architecture, art and radical thinking – these sites represent some of London’s fascinating hidden heritage, but are in need of urgent attention.
“Thanks to National Lottery players however, these buildings are set for strong and exciting futures, saving our heritage and ensuring it is no longer hidden.”
• Sir David Attenborough officially opened Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology after a five-year renovation supported by National Lottery players.
A grant of £1.96 million helped the museum revamp its displays, create an entrance hall displaying its fin whale skeleton, and develop a learning programme to inspire a new generation of visitors.
Pictured: The Glasshouse at RHS Garden Wisley. Credit: RHS and Jason Ingram