exterior detail of the manor house

Heritage Without Barriers

Heritage Without Barriers, our National Lottery Heritage Fund programme to discover how West Horsley Place can bring benefit to people and welcome people from all walks of life, was the jewel in the crown of our 2022 activities.

Heritage Without Barriers is a pioneering three-year programme of public consultation and activity designed to enable many people to experience how heritage spaces can transform health and wellbeing. We aim to understand how West Horsley Place can enrich people's lives, learn more about our heritage and improve its condition, and finally- to break down barriers so that everyone feels welcome here.

Alongside this we hope the programme will enable us to create powerful partnerships with other heritage, nature, arts and wellbeing organisations, enabling us to deliver something special through collaboration and skills-sharing. 

Thank you to National Lottery players to enabling this programme to happen. 

What we Achieved in 2022

man and small children by bug hotelHeritage Without Barriers activities are focussed on several key areas such as access, youth, nature, wellbeing and heritage. Our partnerships and collaborations included Surrey Wildlife Trust, Surrey History Centre, VocalEyes, The Arts Society, Woking Mind, Catalyst, Surrey Country Archaeology Unit, Howard of Effingham School, Guildford Refugee Aid, The Raleigh School and more. 


In May we held our first ever Bioblitz: a 24 hour nature festival and wildlife survey carried out by volunteers. 200 people attended, including 7 wildlife recording groups. Over 120 people took part in wildlife recording walks around the estate throughout the day. 280 species were recorded. Participants said they enjoyed learning about the wildlife at West Horsley Place, with walks to visit Badger sets, building a bug hotel and minibeast hunting being particular favourite activities. 

Comments from some of our youngest visitors, 

“Today I learn about bugs and dormice”

“Today I learnt that a family of badgers is called a set”

“Today I enjoyed learning about dormice”

“Today I enjoyed seeing baby birds”


11 people took part in our 6-week wellbeing- in-nature course, Breathing Space, run in partnerships with Woking Mind and Catalyst.

“Breathing Space has given me the opportunity to be myself and to make connections with others. I have taken away the importance of giving myself peclose-up fire pit in woodlandrmission to take a break and encourage mindfulness out in nature.”

“I have realised I do not ned to do everything right, there is always a process and self-compassion. The exercises were great and reminded me of my inner child, curious and scared, wanting to be different or just simply be. Thank you to the organisers and West Horsley Place.”

15 volunteers were trained in Building Recording by Martin Higgins, Chairman of Surrey Domestic Building Recording Group. They are working with 9 members of the domestic building recording group to create a full record of the manor house. We expect to share findings from our Archaeology Week and building recording once the full reports have been compiled in the coming months..

“I have a massive fascination with history. I love trying to find things that are connected to a historic house and I love getting a bit dirty. I learnt a lot about the house. I also learnt a lot of what we see, there is more underground where we were excavating. We found a place where we thought a garden wall was.”

The Library

Our partnership with The Arts Society to train 20 volunteers to clean, record and assess the condition of the books in our collection has made steady progress. 

Volunteers spent 1029 hours cleaning, assessing, and recording our book collection. They’ve now completed 2 bedrooms and 5 cases in the library, roughly a third of the books in the library. Volunteers transcribed  67 Letters from Lord Crewe to his sister ‘Fluffy’ aka Florence Ellen Hungerford Milnes and 569 letters were photographed. Volunteers also began creating a catalogue of our archive material. Following training and guidance from Surrey History Centre, they have spend 129 hours cataloguing the archive so far.

“I think that the team at WHP has created a very welcoming environment for the Library Project, with a sense of shared enthusiasm.  All WHP colleagues we are in contact with are supportive and collaborative, and express their appreciation of what we do with warmth and sincerity.”


We held a further two series of the first of youth-led nature and heritage courses on the estate and in the Manor House. Since the Horsley Youth Club shut several years ago we have noticed an increase in young people using the estate woodland to socialise as well as an increase in antisocial behaviour such as littering and use of fires. This has also been an issue across the Horsleys generally. In preparation for this project we spoke to young people from the villages. Sadly, the message we were hearing from them was that they felt unwanted, were not listened to by adults and had nowhere to go.

In partnership with East and West Horsley Parish Councils our approach has been to find positive ways to make young people feel welcome on the estate and to encourage them to have a say in our future. One of the ways we are seeking to do this is by providing free outdoor activities including camp building, outdoor cooking, archery, wood carving and conservation work to children and young people. The participants were given the opportunity to shape what the content of the courses. We hope that this approach will help young people to feel a sense of guardianship and pride in the natural heritage of our green spaces as well as to learn more about why our ancient woodland is precious and in need of protection.

41 young people took part in youth activities in the house and on the estate, including 8 refugees. They learnt about our history and natural heritage and volunteered their time to improve access to the estate and build a bamboo shelter for visitors to WHP to enjoy.

14 young people from local secondary schools received training in Oral History, learning to interview older people and record their memories of West Horsley Place. The memories of 29 people with memories of West Horsley Place and the surrounding area were recorded. These were used to develop an Audio Tour of West Horsley Place which visitors to the manor house can listen to on their visit.


We wanted to make West Horsley Place more accessible for disabled people, those with additional support needs and different lived experiences. Heritage Without Barriers has provided our first steps towards this aim. We share more about this journey in an upcoming article.