Beaconsfield model village, Chilterns, England
Responsible travel: Beaconsfield model village, Chilterns, England
Great care goes into creating the models and constant love and attention is devoted to the upkeep of the gardens, which boasts over 3000 shrubs and trees that are meticulously cared for and tended to. Lots of the shrubs and trees are of bonsai style, to match the scale miniature village, however they are not strictly bonsai but are skilfully trimmed and reshaped garden plants. These shrubs and trees add to the charm of the model village, with the bedding and herbaceous plants framing the little towns perfectly. During the spring and summer months, the gardens are awash with colour and a pleasant sight, in the autumn, the leaves are tinged with gold and reds. Two full time gardeners care for the gardens and they have a vast knowledge of the plants and shrubbery in the garden. They are happy to answer any questions or information about their hard work. The 1.5 acres of gardens are maintained for the pleasure of visitors who continue to enjoy the gardens all year round.
Where the model village is unique is that all its profits from admission are donated to charity. This means that charities can benefit from the work of the model village. Over the many years that the model village has been open, a vast amount of money has been donated to a number of good causes. Helen and Douglas House care for children and young adults with life-shortening conditions and offers support to their families. Helen House was the world’s first children’s hospice. Douglas House opened in 2004 specifically to care for young adults between the ages of 16-35. The donations from the model village have helped the two houses offer symptom and pain management, medically supported short breaks and counselling services for the whole family. Other charities that have been donated to are the Great Ormond Street Hospital and the NSPCC. There is also a wishing well in the village, of which donations are given to charity. Wishing Well donations alone since 1987 are just under £75 000! It is estimated that the model village has donated over 5 and half million pounds to charity since it opened.
The model village has built up a good relationship with the local businesses in the area and are working together to encourage people to enjoy the local landscape. The Chilterns is a beautiful area and the model village have teamed up with The Chilterns Open Air Museum, the Roald Dahl Museum and the BellHouse Hotel so that visitors to the area enjoy the very best attractions that the Chilterns has to offer.
In the ‘Main Lake’ there are a number of Koi Carp. We also have herons who visit the model village however we suspend wires across the ponds to dissuade the herons from eating the Koi Carp. There are a number of ducks who nest in the village - there is a regular pair who nest on the Pier Island at Bekonscot Town each spring.
There is a lot to do in the local area, you can visit the country home of statesman Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria’s favourite Prime minister at Hughenden Estate, which is now a National Trust property. The formal gardens have been carefully restored to the original designs of Mary Anne Disraeli and are pleasant to stroll around. You can also explore the walled garden and say hello to the walled garden volunteers, who are happy to offer advice on how to plant, harvest and grown your own plants. Surrounding the manor, there are plenty of places to explore at the Hughenden Estate, from open parkland to ancient woodland. This can be done freely by yourself, or by following a trail. Children can build a den in the woodland or join a ranger for outdoor fun engaging with living history and the great outdoors.
The Chilterns is one of the most wooded parts of England, with over one fifth covered by woodland. A walk through the woods is a particularly enjoyable activity in the spring when a carpet of bluebells can be seen through the woods. The famous beechwoods are a fantastic place to walk and explore an area that has many features particularly distinctive to the Chilterns area. The Chilterns used to support a wide range of woodland industries including chair and furniture making. Today the woods are still harvested for timber but are also managed for their recreation and wildlife value. Woods that can be explored nearby include Hodgemoor Woods and Burnham Beeches.
The story of the provider of Beaconsfield model village, Chilterns, England
Roland Callingham was the founder and creator of Bekonscot. In 1910, he moved from Ascot to Chiltern Lodge, l7 Ledborough Lane, Beaconsfield. Whilst living there, he created a beautiful garden which he opened to the public on occasion, charging an admission fee that was later donated to charity. Roland expanded the garden by purchasing packages of land, increasing the total land to around four acres. In 1928, Roland proceeded to dig out a swimming pool and built two tennis courts in the centre of the land. In doing so, two mounds were created, on which Roland built a small collection of model houses and with the help of his friend, James Shilock, a Gauge One model railway was built with tracks around the swimming pool. In 1929, the foundations of the model village were laid, model buildings erected and rockeries laid out. On Sunday the 4th of August 1929, the gates were opened, the public came in and liking what they saw, threw their pennies in the charity donations box and the ‘oldest model village in the world’ was born. The name of the village is made up of two words put together; Bekon comes from an earlier spelling of Beeches, a tree particularly characteristic of the Chilterns AONB. The ‘scot’ part of the name derives from Ascot, where Roland previously lived. For over 84 years, visitors to the model village have gained much enjoyment from the magical experience of a town in miniature and numerous charities have benefited from the admissions donations over the years. Today the model village provides insight into the 1930’s. It encapsulates a time period and creates replicas of buildings how they would have appeared in the past.