There are various waterways active in and around Stoke Park, some visible, some underground. The most obvious water is perhaps Duchess Pond and the smaller wildlife pond next to it, home to a multitude of waterfowl and wildlife. However, there are various other ponds across the estate, including cart ponds and dew ponds – artificial ponds originally intended for watering livestock. Ongoing maintenance work is needed to ensure that these ponds function effectively for wildlife.
Dew Pond Restoration
Discussions with Natural England and the Council have led us to apply for funding to restore a defunct cobbled dew point next to Pale Plantation. And we have been successful in a bid for funding from Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership (https://www.bristolavoncatchment.co.uk/)! Starting in December 2022, we will be clearing and repointing the pond to ensure it holds water once again and becomes a haven for wildlife in the park. This pond, part of Thomas Wright’s original park plans, has not been a functional pond for decades and was last fully investigated by archeologists in the 80s. Following discussions with Historic England (as well as Natural England) we will be clearing and reinstating the pond in line with original methods. There are no newt or wildlife related restrictions on the work and we are aiming to have the Pale Plantation pond cleared, rebuilt, repointed and completed by September 2023.
The Pale Plantation Pond – before and after initial clearance work in Dec 2022:
The Lower ‘Newt’ Pond:
Furthermore, we have had discussions with Natural England, FWAG and Bristol City Council to also address the dried out status of the dew pond in the lower section of the park. Previously home to Great Crested Newts, the state of the pond following the dry summer of 2022 is a concern. With involvement from experts in dew pond restoration, we have begun restoring this pond in an original manner to help with wildlife habitability across the park.
Work has begun on this pond to clear out the rubble and detritus from within the pond and expose the cobbles. All work is being supervised by a Licensed Ecologist (from FWAG) under appropriate licence conditions due to the Great Crested Newts found there in the past. We’re checking with them at every stage that the right work is being carried out at the right times to ensure no newts are harmed whilst ensuring that in future, newts can survive in the pond all year round!
As of the end of February 2023, we’ve paused digging out the pond and will now focus on repointing some of the cobbles and rebuilding the wall once the cold snap is over. Due to the amount of water in the ground currently, we’ll likely need to wait until Summer now for the pond to dry up and the bottom to be sealed.
Put in as part of Thomas Wright’s design around 1750 – you’ll see it has a rare pattern of a spider-web built into it!
Our sincere thanks to the many organisations who are funding or otherwise supporting the pond works:
- Historic England
- Natural England
- The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group as part of District Level Licensing scheme for great crested newts
- Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership