Making memories at The Trentham Estate

Butterflies took flight at the award-winning The Trentham Estate, in Stoke-on-Trent on May 25 and have settled there until early November.


‘Taking Flight’ is the name given to an inspiring temporary installation made up of 5,000 ceramic butterflies, which has taken centre-stage at Trentham Gardens – with each limited-edition butterfly hand-crafted in the heart of the world-famous Potteries.


Together, they will combine to form an inspiring butterfly themed art installation, reflecting Stoke-on-Trent’s rich ceramic and metal industrial heritage; and will not only raise money for charity, but also add to Trentham’s growing reputation as an open-air art gallery.


The Trentham Estate is currently celebrating 15 years of having re-opened to the public following years of neglect and decline.


There have been countless highlights in those 15 years, and Taking Flight is widely expected to be one of them.  Fittingly enough, as the butterflies flutter towards Trentham Gardens, here – in no particular order – is our own pick of a “Top 15 memories in 15 years”:


1 The massively moving moment, when Trentham’s iconic statue of Perseus, took-up residence at The Royal Academy in the summer of 2012 to take on a leading role in the London gallery’s much-acclaimed exhibition called “Bronze”.


2 Britain’s leading cyclists added their names to the roll call of the rich-and-famous who have visited The Trentham Estate, in September 2012 when Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish took part in the Tour of Britain which swept out of The Italian Gardens on a 91-mile route before returning to Stoke-on-Trent.


3 The true value of The Trentham Estate was clearly on show in 2015 when it hosted BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow, fronted by the fabulous Fiona Bruce, and a host of antique experts.


4 Trentham Gardens took centre stage during the 300thanniversary of the birth of the 18thcentury gardener Capability Brown in 2015. That’s also when the colourful Capability Brown Meadows took root in the award-winning Staffordshire gardens.


5 The fairies first dropped in to Trentham in 2012.  They brought with them a considerable sprinkling of fairy dust, which provided visitors with a family friendly trail around the gardens, and world-wide notoriety – especially when they were flagged-up as being one of “20 of the world’s most quirky and incredible sculptures” in 2017.


6 Trentham first hit the right note with a full programme of Hot Summer Saturday Dates in 2010.  These outdoor concerts have since welcomed thousands of music enthusiasts and party goers.Summer Saturday nights are also sizzling like never before, thanks to its biggest-ever concert line-up for 2019 – all aimed at celebrating the 15thanniversary of the historic estate re-opening to the party goers to the lakeside.


7 There was a scrum of visitors at The Trentham Estate in July 2015 when the William Webb Ellis Trophy arrived in the gardens during Rugby World Cup year.


8 The Trentham Estate has become no stranger to awards and accolades over the past 15 years – striking gold for the third consecutive year in 2018 in recognition of its quality visitor experience, by VisitEngland; becoming BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Garden of the Year in 2015; and being awarded the 2010 European Gardening Award for “Restoration, Enhancement or Development of a Historic Park or Garden”.  It was also named “Garden Makeover of the Decade” by the Daily Telegraph in the year it celebrated its 10thanniversary of being reopened to the public.


9 Celebrity visitors pass through the garden gate on a regular occurrence. Some prefer not to be noticed. But others, including Michael Portillo, passing through during one of his TV train journeys, and Alan Titchmarsh are happier to be seen andheard.  Titchmarsh, for example, described the gardens as: “one of the UK’s must-see gardens”.


10 The legendary Pele and Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously joined England World Cup winner Gordon Banks for dinner at The Trentham Estate following a celebrity charity football match between a Banks X1 and a Pele X1 to mark ‘Banks of England – A Celebration of Sport for Peace’ on July 12, 2008.


11 Trentham Gardens has never rested on its laurels; and in 2017, the gardening team began the large-scale project to create one of the largest sequence of colourful ‘pictorial meadows’ in any historic landscape in Britain.  2019, meanwhile, saw it stage its first ever Spring Bulb Festival.


12 140 monkeys living in Stoke on Trent?  It all began in 1969 when the first Monkey Forest park was opened in France.  Due to the success of the park, a second was opened in Rocamadour, in France; and later a third, in Germany in 1976.  In 2004, two groups of Barbary macaques from the existing parks were re-homed at The Trentham Estate, and the park opened to the public in July 2005.


13 Trentham’s bustling Shopping Village has been one of the Estate’s great success stories since it reopened to the public 15 years ago. A £7m expansion in summer 2017 added another 18 units to the 63 shops, cafés and restaurants already there, helping cement the Village’s reputation as one of the UK’s most successful new shopping ‘centres’.


14 When the Woodland Trust confirmed the sites for all 60 Diamond Woods in the UK, The Trentham Estate’s North Park was deemed to be fit for a Queen! It was the year that Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee; and the first stage of work started in February, 2012, when a coniferous forest of pine – planted about 50 years ago as a commercial crop – were removed to prepare the area for the heathland restoration and the planting of Sessile oaks. Since then, North Park has officially been known as the Trentham Diamond Wood.


15 And finally, who could possibly forget the excitement during the first day of opening on May 29, 2004?  It was welcomed back, amongst others, by BBC Radio Stoke – which also posted the following account on its fledgling website: “After years of neglect, one of Staffordshire’s most famous leisure attractions – Trentham Gardens – is reopening as part of a £100 million regeneration project to restore it beyond its former glories…” (


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