Spa Ponds Heritage Project: Celebrating 700 years of history

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Forest Town Nature Conservation Group (FTNCG) has been successful in securing a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant to help pay for the Spa Ponds Heritage Project.

The FTNCG-led Spa Ponds Heritage Project has been given ¬£8,500 by the HLF to research and celebrate the history of Spa Ponds Nature Reserve, known locally as ‘Gara Ponds’. This project takes place 700 years after King Edward II is believed to have ordered the creation of the site’s medieval fish ponds.

Spa Ponds is located off Clipstone Drive near Garibaldi Wood in Forest Town, Mansfield. FTNCG is the volunteer-run charity who bought Spa Ponds in 2014 with help from the community of Forest Town. FTNCG will be assisted by friendly experts, led by Matt Beresford of MBArchaeology, for this year-long project.

Map of Spa Ponds Nature Reserve – Click to enlarge

The Spa Ponds Heritage Project will provide around 20 participants with training and guidance from historians and community archaeologists through a series of free workshops and activities.

The project will also include recording people’s memories of the site and creating a community-led Heritage Management Plan.

The HLF grant will fund opportunities for local people to experience local heritage through learning how to interpret maps and documents, being introduced to tree recording, and by participating in archaeological surveying at Spa Ponds. Together, these efforts will help reveal the site’s history and identify features that need to be protected. This will improve the community’s understanding of the site and help FTNCG look after the Nature Reserve in ways that respect the site’s heritage.

At the end of the project there will be public displays and events to share what has been learned and to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the site.

Those wishing to be kept informed about the project, and those who would like to share their Spa Ponds stories, can register their interest by e-mailing or by ‘phoning Shlomo Dowen on (01623) 640134.

Commenting on the award of the grant, FTNCG Secretary Lorraine Dowen said: “I am hugely excited and grateful to be part of a project that will skill-up local volunteers to research this amazing and as yet unexplored medieval site, recently purchased by the community and now held in trust for future generations.”

JHeritage Lottery Foundation - Lottery Fundedonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “Our Sharing Heritage programme helps local communities embark on a journey of discovery to find out more about an aspect of their area’s heritage. The Gara Ponds will be known to many in Mansfield, but few will be aware of their 700 year history and it’s great that this project will involve dozens of volunteers in revealing their untold stories.”