Plans to transform the neglected Bishop’s Park in Abergwili into a community jewel and put it firmly on the tourist map have taken another major step forward after the Tywi Gateway Trust received a £23,500 from a national grant-giving charity.
The grant from Allchurches Trust will help towards funding a sensitive restoration of the under-used Bishop’s Park site, particularly the revitalisation of the walled kitchen garden and adjacent bothy, which is leased from the Church in Wales. The Walled Kitchen Garden will be available for both horticultural and community use, including providing therapeutic opportunities for people with disabilities and a base for garden volunteers.
The new Tywi Gateway Centre will be a hub for the local community, boosting the local economy and making it a draw for tourists as the starting point for the Tywi Valley Path.
Working with the local community, the Tywi Gateway Trust is seeking to reverse the years of decline, adding extensive visitor facilities by converting the former Bishop’s Palace larder, dairy and laundry in a semi-derelict wing of the County Museum, the former Palace of the Bishops of St Davids, into learning and interpretation spaces and a coffee shop.
The restoration and conservation of the grounds, including the Pleasure Grounds, Great Meadow and Bishop’s Pond, are also part of the Trust’s plans, providing outdoor learning facilities, a place for relaxation and recreation and a thriving habitat for wildlife.
Louise Austin from the Tywi Gateway Trust said: “This project will reverse the loss of the built and natural heritage of the Bishop’s Park, give the people of Abergwili a shared focus on this vision of a fantastic community facility and boost the local economy through tourism. We’re delighted to have the support of Allchurches Trust, which means we are now even closer to our fundraising target.”
Local people have already been engaged in planning for the project, including children from Abergwili Primary School, who visited the site to plant daffodil bulbs and taste different varieties of apple growing in the walled kitchen garden orchard.
Allchurches Trust is one of the UK’s largest grant-making charities and gave more than £16 million to churches, charities and communities in 2018. Its funds come from its ownership of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.
Grants officer at Allchurches Trust, Paul Playford, said: “Bishop’s Park is not only historically important, it is treasured by local people. This project will help restore the extensive grounds to their former glory and give the community a facility to enjoy and be proud of; a place that celebrates their cultural heritage that they can share with visitors from all over the world and that will boost their health and wellbeing. We are delighted to have been able to provide funding to take the Tywi Gateway Trust a step closer to making their ambitious plans a reality.”
You can find out more about the Tywi Gateway project at tywigateway.org.uk