Cannon Hall discovery trail to open this weekend – inspired by historic scrapbooks

A £3.8m restoration project at the historic Cannon Hall Museum and Gardens is almost complete, with major new areas and a woodland discovery trail set to open this weekend.
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A major new woodland discovery trail, boats back on the lake for the first time in nearly 100 years and two miles of new paths are just some of the new features at the popular attraction.

The subterranean ice house, built in 1780, will be open to the public since being closed off since the 1970s, following a restoration project.

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£3.8m of funding has come from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the four-year project, called ‘restoring the glory, revealing the secrets’.

Cannon Hall new Discovery Trail , sculpture and Swan Boats on the lake August 2021. Picture Scott MerryleesCannon Hall new Discovery Trail , sculpture and Swan Boats on the lake August 2021. Picture Scott Merrylees
Cannon Hall new Discovery Trail , sculpture and Swan Boats on the lake August 2021. Picture Scott Merrylees

A 5m long ‘willow monster’ is part of a new trail set to open this Saturday, packed with 20 free play features including balancing beam, tepees, Saxon hut, willow tunnel and musical instruments.

it is inspired by scrapbooks donated to the Museum, described by their team as an early form of 1800s Instagram.

They were a way for Winifred Spencer Stanhope, former Cannon Hall resident, to record the prestigious events and visits they hosted.

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Councillor Tim Cheetham, Barnsley Council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “This has been years in the making so to see it finally coming to fruition is just fantastic. A lot of hard work and love has been poured into this project because we all know just how much Cannon Hall and these stunning gardens mean to the people of Barnsley and Yorkshire.

“People will see a mix of newly created areas, installations, improvements and renovations alongside things that you won’t see but were extremely important for the long term benefit of this site, such as drainage and groundworks.

“What we now have is a stunning outdoor visitors experience with magnificent new woodland family trail where the installations are in harmony with the natural surroundings they have been placed in.

“We hope it will encourage more people to visit Cannon Hall itself which is completely free to see and explore.

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“The De Morgan’s were trailblazers with a strong connection to our borough and the scrapbooks that represent important moments in history are on display in the hall meaning people can experience the adventure trail and then see the original works that inspired it.”

David Renwick, director at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Regenerating and conserving public parks remains a high priority for us as we commit to promoting more environmentally-sustainable heritage and increasing people’s health and wellbeing.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are proud to support the restoration and transformation of the Gardens at Cannon Hall.”