The Discovery Project

  • People – a new welcome centre and facilities for our volunteers
  • Heritage – promoting the estate’s diverse history and natural heritage
  • Landscapes – restoring features & vistas, improving drainage of waterlogged grounds 

Updated 30th August 2018

Round One Success for the Discovery Project!

We have successfully bid for National Lottery funding to develop proposals to restore and enhance Upton Country Park. The award of £185,000 takes us into the development phase of our Discovery Project, which will then result in a Round Two funding application for around £1.9 million in Autumn 2019. If successful the funding will enable us to celebrate the rich and varied heritage that the Country Park has to offer.

Through the Discovery Project we will restore our historical features, re-instate landscapes that have been lost over time and enhance our grounds. Visitors will enjoy improved access to the fascinating history of the Estate through interactive displays around the site and a new welcome centre will create the perfect opportunity for them to learn more about what is available to see and do at the Country Park.

A project to support the local community, we will offer increased opportunities for more people to develop new skills and knowledge, with better access to training and education, focusing on the natural environment. The Discovery Project will support a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in the region of £1.9 million, with the aim of creating an accessible and sustainable heritage attraction for the local community to relax, enjoy and learn in.

The Llewellin children. The Llewellin family purchased Upton House in 1901.

The original open vista across the grounds to Holes Bay, Sterte & Poole

Three Main Themes


As part of the project, it is our plan to convert the existing car park toilet block into a new welcome centre, to provide a central point for visitors to access information about our services, events and facilities. There will also the opportunity to introduce the natural and built heritage of the site with interactive interpretation displays.

Our volunteer support continues to grow but our existing facilities are not able to provide the space during breaks needed for everyone. We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of many wonderful volunteers and we would like to offer them comfortable facilities to enjoy during breaks with improved volunteer facilities.

We will create new training and learning opportunities for our volunteers and the local community. Working in partnership with local organisations, we will provide increased access to skills development and work experience throughout the Country Park, introducing our heritage to more people and strengthening our ties with young people.


Our project will allow us to introduce our heritage to all of our visitors by adding new high quality interpretation throughout the site, creating the opportunity for visitors to understand the Estate’s diverse history and further extend the story of the local area.

Upton Country Park has a unique harbour-side setting and hosts stunning views of the Holes Bay Nature Park, consisting of a mosaic of wetland and mudflats. The Discovery Project will allow us to introduce a bird hide on our shoreline and provide more people with the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the natural heritage throughout the Country Park.


Through the Project, we will re-instate historical pathways and create a new network of paths from the back lawn, to link Upton House to the wider Estate. Views down to the shoreline have been lost over time but with the effective management of trees and planting, our project will re-introduce three vistas from Upton House and Walled Garden down to Holes Bay Nature Park, to highlight our shoreline location with the wider Country Park and restoring the historic pleasure grounds.

It is essential to complete vital infrastructure maintenance and protect our listed site from further deterioration. Our research has shown that there is a considerable problem with drainage particularly from the back lawn, resulting in waterlogged grounds and pathways. An improved drainage system will help to rectify this problem. It is our plan to restore historic features and complete essential repair work to our Stable Yard area, to provide improved access to our Walled Garden.

The heritage the Discovery Project will focus on

Aerial view of Upton House and the Walled Garden.

The Walled Garden.

Upton Country Park is rich in both its natural and built heritage, both of which will be celebrated through the ‘Discovery’ project.

The Country Park includes a 200 year old Georgian-style Grade II* house, formal gardens, parkland, woodland, tenanted farm land, shoreline and Pergins Island.

The Estate has an interesting history and is rich in archaeological remains, especially from the Romano-British period. The house was built from 1816-1818 by Christopher Spurrier, a Poole merchant. Poole’s wealth at the time was built on the Newfoundland trade and Upton House is a fine example of the houses built by the Poole merchants. Following the financial ruin of the Spurrier family the house was bought by Sir Edward Doughty in 1828. The disappearance of Edward’s heir, and subsequent appearance in 1866 of a man claiming to be him, instigated one of the longest trials in English legal history, that of the ‘Tichborne Claimant’.

In 1901 the house was occupied by William Llewellin and his family. William’s sons had distinguished careers and his daughter Margaret Mary became Poole’s first female Mayor. William gifted the house and part of the estate to the Council in 1957, it was initially rented to a Romanian Prince and in 1975 the park was opened to the public.

In addition to the fascinating history that the Estate has to offer, there is also a huge significance for wildlife and the natural surroundings, with Upton Country Park being strongly influenced by its unique harbour-side setting. The Country Park is situated on rising land at the north of Holes Bay Nature Park, a site of international and national importance, with RAMSAR, SPA and SSSI recognition, and is also within The Great Heath Project boundaries, a HLF-funded project managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. We have identified through our research that most people visit the park to enjoy the outdoor space and through the ‘Discovery’ project, there will be increased opportunities for more people to enjoy and engage with our natural environment.

The toilet block in the main car park.

Stunning wetland & mudflat views across Holes Bay.

All archive photos courtesy of Poole Museum:

Join In

Our Visitor Survey

Your views on the Country Park would be very welcome and play an important part within the HLF project

Take the 10-minute survey

Discovery Project Volunteering Opportunities

If you are keen to learn more about our Discovery Project and can perhaps offer a little time to help, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Historical Research Work with our appointed interpretation consultants and Poole Museum History Centre to gather valuable information about the history of the Country Park.

Project Support Volunteer to assist with the Round Two development phase by working with the project team based at Upton House.

Surveys Public support is vital to the project; would you be happy to talk to the public to gather opinions about the Country Park and the planned events & activities?

Events We will be planning plenty of community engagement activities over the coming months to support our plans and raise vital funds for our partnership funding. Is this something you can help with?

Please contact us at for further details about any of the volunteering opportunities above.

Of course our regular Gardening Volunteers and the Friends of Upton Country Park continue to play a huge role in supporting us. Discover how you can join in

Latest News

August 2018

We would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who took part in a Discovery activity week 20th-24th August, and those that completed one of our surveys. We hope you enjoyed taking part.

We still have an online version of the survey, should you be able to spare a few minutes to complete it. Your views on the Country Park would be very welcome and play an important part within the HLF project.

January 2018

We are excited to announce that our Round One award has been granted. The £185,000 of National Lottery funding, awarded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund, will allow us to develop a second round bid for up to £1.9 million to deliver the Discovery Project. The next 18 months will involve pilot studies within the local community, public engagement activities, consultation, planning and design work, in addition to fundraising for the £30,000 of partnership funding needed prior to the Round Two submission. We will keep you updated on news, events and activities as the project develops.

Partnership funding has already been committed with a generous donation of £125,000 from the Friends of Upton Country Park and a further £170,000 secured through the Borough of Poole. The remaining £30,000 required will be raised through public events, sponsorship and corporate donations within the development stage.

Volunteers will play a key role in the development of the Discovery project and there are a number of ways in which the local community can get involved; please see the ‘Join In’ information above for details and keep up to date via this website and our Facebook page.