Legacy to Landscape; linking King Johns Oak to the future.


 The project invites local people to get involved in an exciting new project celebrating the local landscape of Colyton and Shute area and its fascinating wildlife and history. The project aims to reveal the rich heritage of this hidden landscape that has remained virtually unchanged for centuries.

Already a recent survey in the Umborne Valley has revealed valuable and rare meadows rich in wildflowers. However to date, the wildlife they support is little recorded. An events programme is available which will provide opportunities to involve local communities in learning and helping with identifying plants, birds, insects and mammals on a number of wildlife surveys. This will be invaluable in helping to complete the picture of the wildlife for the whole project area. 

The most well-known element of the natural heritage of the area has to be the 800 year old King John’s Oak and its fellow veteran trees standing proud in the Woodend Deer Park, an under studied area with much to reveal.                                                                                 

King John's Oak

The project will delve into estate archives to discover how the landscape has evolved over time. Starting with the tithe maps dating from the 1830’s, which in an earlier project were digitised and made available on-line by the AONB. Already the project is in possession of an 1783 estate map and an audit of the estate dated 1555. These will all reveal the network of farm holdings and how the land was being managed at that time. Other documents reveal when trees were planted and land improved for agricultural purposes. Hopefully the archives will reveal more evidence of how the local communities in the past have shaped the landscape from the medieval times with its deer park to the modern day. 

A 1556 audit of the Estate

The project will also give people an opportunity to help improve the wildlife value of this treasured landscape and learn new heritage skills which will include: planting trees from seeds of the King John’s oak , hedgelaying, scrub clearing and managing orchards to enhance the landscape and improve its connectivity between wildlife hots spots. 

Local school children will also be part of the project, working with their schools to develop lessons beyond the classroom, expanding their knowledge of their local wildlife and enhancing their awareness that our landscape, is dynamic: developing and changing over time.

Opening young eyes to new horizons.  

Ruth Worsley the Project Co-ordinator said “ the project provides potential for all ages to engage with the project at a variety of levels, whether it’s enjoying the landscape and wildlife, searching archives, pouring over old maps, learning more about our native wildlife or leading a survey group. No matter what your current knowledge or your particular interests we would like to hear from you and would love you to be involved”.

The first season of the project has been captured in a series of photographs which illustrate the breadth and variety of activities that have been organised for local people. Click on the book for full screen mode. 


The Project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from the East Devon AONB Partnership, Devon Wildlife Trust and the Axe Vale and District Conservation Society. 

 Heritage Lottery our main funder

If you would like to get involved, please contact

Pete Youngman, 01404 310012, pete.youngman@eastdevonaonb.org.uk
Or to book into an event please contact
Ruth Worsley at legacytolandscape@gmail.com

Contact Us

East Devon AONB Partnership
Kennaway House
Coburg Rd, Sidmouth
EX10 8NG

Tel: 01404 46663

Email : info@eastdevonaonb.org.uk

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About Us

In England and Wales, our finest landscapes have been conserved through designation as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

The East Devon AONB was designated in 1963 and is one of the 46 AONBs situated across the UK. The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty provides general information about AONBs, whilst the South West Protected Landscapes Forum exists to provide information and a regional voice for the 14 Protected Landscapes which, together, make up 38% of the South West of England.

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