Created By: West Berkshire Archaeology Service
You can enter the gardens of Shaw House from the car park. There is an entrance about half way up the car park on the western side that has stairs over an earth bank. Level access is available from the north end of the car park, also on the western side. Make your way round to the grand front entrance to Shaw House on its south side
You are inside the Shaw House and St Mary’s Church Conservation Area. Conservation Areas are areas of special architectural or historic interest. Shaw House and St Mary’s Church Conservation Area was designated in 1990. Most of the Conservation Area is also a Grade II Registered Park and Garden. Registered Parks and Gardens are significant gardens, grounds and other open spaces that have been designed by people.
The Shaw House Registered Park and Garden is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk list. Historic England is the Government’s advisor on heritage. Because of this, West Berkshire Council commissioned a Conservation Area Management Plan, or CAMP for short, in 2017. The final report is available here: www.westberkshireheritage.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Shaw-House-Conservation-Area-Management-Plan-Mar-2020.pdf. This trail will explore some of the themes in the CAMP.
While you are on the trail, look out for all of the different plants and animals that you can see on the trail. How many of the trees do you think have grown there by themselves and how many were planted on purpose by people? Just because a place is full of greenery, does not mean it is completely natural! Parks and gardens, like the one you are in now, are created and maintained by people. In fact, the whole of West Berkshire has been shaped by over 10,000 years of human activity! This is why archaeologists (people who study the evidence of past human activity) and ecologists (people who study living things and their relationship with the world around them) see the ‘natural’ and the ‘historic’ environment as elements of the same thing.
To find out more about the history of Shaw House’s gardens, visit Reception (on the north side of the building) and ask for a copy of their garden trail. The gardens have 18 different species of native and non-native trees, often planted in rows which are good commuting routes for bats!
Go straight down the drive at the front of the house to the gates near Church Road. Be careful of traffic.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Shaw House and St Mary's Church Conservation Area