We are a community restoring the Dell at Tortworth Arboretum to create a woodland where people and trees thrive together.

Our vision

is a welcoming woodland, accessible to all, where people and nature thrive alongside our botanic tree collection.

Our mission

is to nurture the symbiosis between people and trees by:

  • restoring and managing the exotic tree collection at Tortworth, with and for the community,
  • creating an inspiring and inclusive community space where people nurture themselves and nature through learning heritage, conservation and wellbeing skills.

Our values

that underpin everything we do are inclusion, learning, and collaboration.

Coming here has given me the confidence to interact with other people for the first time in seven years. Also I am confident to join a craft group because of being here and learning new skills and confidence in trying new things. Thank you

Our story

Founded in 2015, hundreds of volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore the arboretum which had become overgrown, inaccessible and unsafe for the public to visit. We have been reducing brambles, rhododendrons and other invasive species, to allow native flora to thrive alongside our collection of exotic trees.

Tortworth Forest Centre is based in The Dell at Tortworth Arboretum, Wotton-Under-Edge. Once owned by the Ducie family, the wider arboretum is now split between the hotel grounds, the Dell, Leyhill Prison grounds and the surrounding estate land. The Dell, a 20 acre woodland, sits at the centre of the arboretum and is home to many notable and champion trees, listed on the Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI), see further details on our website: Top 21 Trees by Tony Titchen.

Previously a deer park, the arboretum was planted by the third Earl of Ducie, Henry John Moreton. Passionate about trees, he began planting when he inherited the property from his father in 1853 and continued until his death in 1921. Many of the exotic trees planted in this period are now among the largest ever recorded in this country. As we restore and manage the woodland, we aim to preserve the unique character. The Earl of Ducie created. We are replanting areas of the woodland where we have lost trees, aiming to bring back past species which were in the original planting plan while maintaining the seasonal interest which includes spring ephemerals, blossom and autumn colour.

Alongside our woodland restoration work, we enable and empower people who wouldn’t usually access the countryside for wellbeing. Bec, our Founder, started the Hawthorn Project in 2015 with Jackie Roby, to support self-identifying women recovering from addiction or struggling with poor mental health. Our experienced session leaders create a safe space where women can be outdoors in nature. Together, they learn new skills and connect with others, without the fear of being judged. Alongside this, we run Woodland Management Volunteer Days and the Woodland Wellbeing Project, which are open to all genders.

Our supportive groups offer opportunities to contribute, but without pressure, with people enjoying shared experiences and new interactions. There is a calmness inherent in the place and its historic and unique tree collection, which offers time and space for people to form connections with nature and with other people.  We strive to remove barriers to participation to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the place and all it offers.

Want to visit?

We would love to show you around Tortworth Arboretum. Join our mailing list to hear about upcoming seasonal events and opportunities to visit!

Tortworth Forest Centre CIC is a registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company (no: 09561405). We rely on public and corporate donations, grant funding and event ticket sales to support the restoration of Tortworth Arboretum and our community wellbeing projects. The land is owned and leased to us by woodlands.co.uk.

Woodland hire

Your group or organisation can help by hiring the woodland for regular or special events. Groups are welcome to exclusively hire Tortworth Arboretum for a unique camping experience beneath the beautiful canopy of our exotic trees.

Find out more