Ampthill Great Park

Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Interpreting this Historic Parkland, designed by Capability Brown

“Key to the success of this undertaking was an understanding of the essence of the park and a systematic approach to developing how it should be represented”

Gary Quilter
(Park Development Manager – Ampthill Great Park)

Ampthill Great Park is owned and managed by the Town Council, but certainly is not typical of a municipal parkland. It has a long and notable heritage, famously once belonging to the Crown – site of Ampthill castle, built by Henry VIII and home to Katherine of Aragon whilst the King sought the annulment of their marriage in 1533. More latterly the park was landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and also utilised as the training camp for a regiment established by the Duke of Bedford during WWI. Our task was to develop the brand and visual language and create an interpretive scope which would include welcome panels, a site map with trails, trail markers, a trail leaflet and interpretive panels. Ampthill is a very special place, so we were keen to ensure all design content reflected the park’s royal heritage and historic significance.

The Ampthill scope is a good example of our approach to ‘spirit of place’. We always endeavour to put the site at the centre of the creative process. Our view is that if we can develop a design solution which is absolutely right for the place, then clients and stakeholders will instinctively feel that it fits. Interpretation is bespoke, and therefore all designed content should embrace and reflect that. We never apply design templates or offer out a suite of standardised solutions.

The Ampthill Great Park logotype was one of those rare situations where inspiration came quickly and the solution just seemed absolutely correct for the site. The scrolling text and ‘tree device’ were inspired by the work and writings of Capability Brown, intended to visually confer the fact that this was a designed space rooted in a particular time. A palette was developed which could relate to key themes – Parkland, Heritage and Recreation – and the strapline ‘A Great Park to Enjoy’ was placed in a banner which rose and fell to reflect the landscape. A Stylebook was submitted and approved, and we then went on to create the structural designs for the panels, fingerposts and trail markers. The site map was developed as a stylised re-imagining of drawings contemporary to Brown, whilst considerations of clarity and ease of use were accommodated. Illustration style was inspired by book engravings. A key element was our reconstruction illustration of Ampthill Castle based upon a site plan, archaeological findings, and contemporary castles of the time. Our artist’s impression was the first serious attempt at showing visitors the extent and appearance of this magnificent structure and it has been well received, generating much interest amongst the public.

The interpretation at Ampthill Great Park is ongoing, with Phase 2 about to be commissioned, to include Family Activity Tracker Packs and two new panels – one focusing on the flora and fauna of ‘The Rezzy’, a large lake on the site, and the other commemorating the centenary of the end of WWI. A town walking trail is also to be commissioned.

Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Ampthill Great Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire