The Sharpham Trust is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government to help them through the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

445 organisations, including The Trust, will share £103 million, to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.

The Sharpham Trust has been awarded £98,000, which will help the nature and mindfulness education charity continue to operate.

The Trust offers mindfulness retreats and courses, puts on nature-connection events, offers weddings and operates Sharpham Meadow Natural Burial Ground. Like many organisations and businesses, the Trust has been severely impacted by the restrictions imposed as a result of Coronavirus.

Julian Carnell, Trust Director, said: “We were forced to close back in March and although we managed to partially reopen in August we have been operating at a much-reduced capacity as a Covid-Secure venue.

“There is a huge demand for our courses and retreats in these difficult times and we are working hard to make sure we can keep offering people these experiences safely.

“This latest £98,000 grant from the government through the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is very welcome. Despite losing around 50% of this year’s income I am proud that we have been able to keep all our staff employed and continue to support our users in the face of severe challenges.”

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Helping the Trust to stay open

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritageand the Heritage Stimulus Fund – funded by Government and administered at arms-length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:“As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post-Covid.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said: “It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19.

“These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:“It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.  Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time.

“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

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New retreat venue at Sharpham

Charity invests £1.6million in a new retreat venue at Sharpham

The Sharpham Trust is investing £1.6 million to convert a stable yard behind Sharpham House to a new centre for mindfulness courses and retreats.

The charity, which works to connect people to nature and themselves, has begun the creation of The Coach House - which will feature a new meditation space and 18 en-suite rooms.

The current, disused stableyard is a Grade II-listed building, dating back to 1760 when Sharpham House was built for the naval sea captain Philemon Pownoll.

Now work has begun to develop the single-storey quadrangle directly behind Sharpham House into a new retreat centre where participants can stay, amid historic grounds thought to have been landscaped by Capability Brown.

The Trust runs an annual programme of courses and retreats featuring mindfulness meditation and nature connection on the wider Sharpham Estate and on the adjacent River Dart.

“Prior to the pandemic we were finding that our programme was fully booked with long waiting lists,” said Trust Director Julian Carnell.

“As a charity we want to help as many people as possible and so creating more accommodation became a priority. The stable yard had become rundown and so there was a fantastic opportunity to give the building a new lease of life and restore it as part of the Sharpham Estate’s important heritage,” he said.

The Coach House behind Sharpham House INSIDE April 2021 LO RES
The Coach House

Retreats in The Coach House

The Coach House will join the Trust’s other retreat venues Sharpham House, The Barn Retreat and Woodland Campsite and it will offer a weekly programme for those in need of developing and deepening their mindfulness practice, compassion and their connection to nature.

Participants staying there will be able to spend a week living in community surrounded by the amazing natural environment of the Sharpham Estate.

They will spend time volunteering in the 18th century Walled Garden – helping to grow food for the retreats at Sharpham – and conserving the heritage and wildlife of the wider estate.

Helping 1,000 more people a year

Chairman of Sharpham’s Trustees Daniel Stokes said: “Our mission is to connect people to nature and foster mindfulness and wellbeing. There is now a plethora of research showing the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.

“This project will enable us to help another 1,000 people a year, giving them a chance to spend time slowing down and reflecting in a beautiful natural setting,” he said.

Using local construction companies

The Trust is using South Devon firm Carpenter Oak to build the frame for an eye-catching glass structure linked to The Coach House which will be the new centre’s meditation and dining space.

Classic Builders, a local South West-based construction company, has been awarded the contract to convert the Coach House and hopes to complete the works by January 2022.

“We are delighted to be working with The Sharpham Trust on this significant local project. The Coach House is an important listed building, not only in a sensitive location but also next to Sharpham House. We’re looking forward to drawing on our years of experience delivering comparable works in similar settings to make this project a success,” said Adam Brimacombe, Director at Classic Builders.

The Trust has been busy over the last ten years developing its charitable programmes and refurbishing the heritage of its listed landscape and properties. Every year, some 2,000 people attend retreats, courses and events on the Sharpham Estate.

See our events here: www.sharphamtrust.org/Calendar  

A new fish finger takeaway in town

Cormack's Seafood recently launched a takeaway lunch menu from our fish shop. We sell a range of four sandwiches, featuring our handmade products. On offer at the moment is:

Classic Fish Finger Sandwich  £8
shoestring fries, tartar sauce, iceberg

Nashville Hot Fish Finger Sandwich £8
fish fingers, hot chilli dust, pickles, Cajun mayo

Plaice Katsu Curry Sandwich £9
Curry mayo, pickles, cabbage

Brixham Crab & Avocado Sandwich £10
Coconut, lime and chilli mayo, smashed avocado, crispy fried onions

Our fish fingers are made using line caught pollack from Devon and are battered in panko breadcrumbs, dill and spices. Our katsu fillets are inspired by Aarik’s (owner and chef) time working in South-East Asia and are made with plaice landed in Brixham.

fish finger

The takeaway is available every day from noon Tuesday to Saturday. We are located on Ticklemore Street in Totnes. 

Re-opening at last and ‘on the rails to recovery’

After being closed for exactly one full year next Wednesday (17th March) as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the scenic South Devon Railway (SDR) has just announced its outline programme today for a Spring re-opening of the seven-mile heritage line running from Buckfastleigh to Totnes.

The last SDR steam trains ran virtually empty on Tuesday 17 March 2020 after visitors deserted Devon just ahead of the first lockdown the following weekend. This dramatic change came  straight after a very popular weekend SDR steam gala event featuring former branch favourite loco No. 4555 as the star visitor. What a contrast!

It’s now the longest period that the quintessential former GWR branch line has been closed in its 52-year history after re-opening as a tourist railway in 1969 following closure by British Railways in 1962.

Now, the SDR says it will re-open to visitors  in phases starting with the large Buckfastleigh site first on Monday 12 April when national CV-19 restrictions are set to ease significantly for attractions.

The site ‘Open Days’ will follow a similar format to those successfully staged last summer and autumn. Opening up the site was very popular with SDR visitors last year, and includes the gardens, workshop viewing, riverside picnic area, children’s playground, Lee Moor Tramway museum, north signal box, and the gift & model shop will be open too. 

Many of the SDR’s steam and diesel locomotives and historic coaches will be on display and, on selected days, both the miniature railway and the garden railway will be in operation too.

The SDR site will be open all of the week commencing 12th April for the half-term holiday, then on every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until 16th May. Entrance is free, but the SDR does ask for a donation at the gate. There is plenty of free car parking at Buckfastleigh station too. 

And, at long last, the really good news is that SDR trains are set to start steaming down the picturesque valley of the River Dart once more from Monday 17 May, and the fantastic sight, sound and smell of them are now almost as much a natural part of the landscape as the trees, green fields, cattle and Devon’s rolling hills. 

Not surprisingly, SDR staff can’t wait to welcome visitors back to the railway. A timetable of four steam trains per day will be in operation, leaving Buckfastleigh at 10.30, 12.10, 2.15 and 4.00, and arriving back about one and quarter hours later.

New from Lion Brewery

Local Hero beer created using hops from Totnes community at Lion Brewery The Hop Club at the Lion Brewery has been enlisting locals as hop farmers for 2 years now with 2018 being the third harvest supplied by the community. A delicious, speciality beer is created from the harvest, with some of the beer being given back to those who supply the produce. In 2016 the total harvest amounted to 1.3kg, which increased by a staggering 1150% in 2017 resulting in 15kg of fresh hops. The total hop harvest for 2018 was just over 15kg and would have been 20kg but sadly two of the biggest growers were unable to pick.      The produce is brought to the Lion Brewery in a variety of vessels from little bags and tea cups to anything up to large bin bags. The hop plants are covered in hop cones which if teased apart will produce a yellow powder running down the middle called lupulin, which is the magic ingredient needed by the brewery to create the beer. ‘Local Hero’ is the name of the once-a-year brew which is created using the community hops in time for the Forking Local Food Festival on Vire Island on October 8th.  The batch also uses local ingredients including 10% of the mash being pea flour from the brilliant Grown in Totnes. In Spring 2019 the brewery will be looking for more hop farmers, big and small. Rob Hopkins, one of the Lion Brewery Directors said, ‘It’s things like this that make our brewery the very special thing that it is. Whether your harvest was small enough to fill a bin bag or a teacup, whether the slugs ate your plants or you were showered with lupulin, thank you.’ Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 13.38.11
If you haven't harvested before and you’re interested in getting involved next year, contact the Lion Brewery for tips and advice.

The River Dart and Totnes – Trade and the Town

As well as being a key feature of the town's picturesque landscape the River Dart has been an important part of trade in Totnes for hundreds of years. Today Totnes is a tourist hotspot but up until the late 20th century it was an important trading post on a busy river. Wool and Wealth Totnes owes much of its Elizabethan charm to the River Dart, the trade it enabled making many merchants rich and allowing them to build luxurious houses that still stand to this day. In the 16th century Wool and tin were the main exports, and helped Totnes to become the second wealthiest community in the country. As Totnes failed to respond to new trends in cloth manufacturing, and tin production in Ashburton declined, the boom failed to last and trade on the river diminished. However, as of 1636 it was still rated the country's fifth wealthiest community. As debris from the last of the tin mines made it difficult to navigate the river, traders started to go to Dartmouth instead. Plains Sailing It may not have recaptured the town's Elizabethan heyday but the area of Totnes now known as The Plains was once a thriving district of factories exporting the goods they produced via The Dart. Notable businesses included cider makers Bentall, Lloyd and Co, and Symons and Co. Today upmarket residences can now be found where the factories once stood. Although the coming of the railway reduced the demand for traders on the river the Dart remains an important part of the town's economy as a tourist attraction. Anyone visiting Totnes can make the most of the beautiful river, whether it's by hiring a canoe, walking along its banks, or taking a cruise down to Dartmouth.
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