Supporting our Community
Over a thousand people live, work or learn on the estate, with thousands more who live in the estate’s vicinity and benefit from the countryside that we work hard to manage. However, we go much further to actively promote the interaction of our local communities with the estate’s natural and built heritage.
Schools and Scouts
The estate supports our local schools, such as Stapleford School, whose main building has been provided rent free for many years. By tradition the school presents a summer rose to the Abel Smith family every June. Our support to schools is also offered through Discovery Days on the estate and in partnership with Countryside Learning, a charity that brings children to the countryside to learn about food and nature. Recently the estate was pleased to donate iPads for learning to Tonwell School.
The estate has a long record of supporting Hertfordshire scouts. Lt Col Abel H Smith was the founding Chairman of the Hertford District Scout Association and this forged a long-standing link between Woodhall and the scouts. We provide the Scout Hut site in Watton-at-Stone for £1 a year and regularly host scout camps and activities on the estate.
The estate has supported the churches in the estate’s benefice for many years, both financially and practically. The Abel Smith family restored Watton Church in circa 1860, likewise Stapleford Church and Sacombe Church. Bramfield Church was also enlarged by the family at around the same time. More recently the estate contributed to a new heating system at Watton Church. We continue to lend our support where possible, particularly in relation to upkeep and church event parking.
Over the years, the estate has supported a number of local and national charities, through hosting public events in Woodhall Park on a bona-fide basis. Beneficiary charities of these events have included the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance, Help for Heroes, the British Red Cross and Isabel Hospice. For several years, the private gardens at Woodhall Park were opened annually under the National Garden Scheme to raise funds for charity.
We are proud of the work Hertfordshire Constabulary does to protect communities in Hertfordshire, both urban and rural. The estate is pleased to support the force by providing training spaces for police dogs and their specialist officers. They respond to dangerous situations across Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, as well as provide security at London Luton Airport. Learn more about this here. You will often see Police 4x4s drive across the estate, demonstrating our joint resolve to reduce rural crime.
Open Space and Recreation
We encourage all residents in our area to make the most of the estate’s beautiful countryside that we work hard to manage. The estate has assigned entire areas for community enjoyment, the highlight being Jubilee Community Wood at Watton-at-Stone – a 60-acre area adjacent to the village planted with over 25,000 trees in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Furthermore, there are miles of footpaths and bridleways that traverse the estate which we manage, including permissive paths voluntarily designated for public enjoyment. These paths are often designed to create circular routes and better connect villages. Our right-of-way network as a whole connects the villages of Watton-at-Stone, Bramfield, Datchworth, Stapleford, Sacombe, Tonwell and Whempstead – a combined community of tens of thousands of people.
Please read more about public access at Woodhall Estate in Walk, Run, Ride. A huge amount of effort goes into maintaining all of the rights-of-way and recreation areas. Whilst we do all we can to make them safe, anyone visiting the estate does so entirely at their own risk.