A fresh look at Scouting history: The Scouts launch new heritage trail

The Scouts have created a new outdoor heritage trail thanks to a Covid recovery grant from SHARE Museums East and the support of the Gilwell Fellows.

The new Heritage Trail allows visitors to discover how the estate went on an extraordinary journey from being a medieval manor to a regency pleasure palace and derelict estate, to a Scout wonderland. 29 new interpretation panels have been researched and produced, exploring previously untold stories of scouting history at Gilwell Park. The trail can be self-guided, explored as part of an organised group, or used to support guided tours of the site.

For the first time, the Faith buildings on site (including a synagogue and mosque) have been incorporated into a trail, raising the profile of the buildings and exploring the role of faith, belief and values in Scouting. Five different faith groups were consulted, including the Muslim Scout Fellowship, to support the development of the panels, ensure they were representative and accurate, and provide key images.

New interpretative features include:

  • A brand new illustrated character ‘Buddy the Buffalo’ featuring on the panels, aimed at engaging younger audiences – a particularly timely development following the creation of the new Scout group ‘Squirrel Scouts’ for 4-6 year olds.  
  • A diverse mix of historic and modern images, to ensure a wide range of people are represented on the panels 
  • A map to guide visitors around the trail which can be downloaded to enhance the experience.  

There are also some useful practical features – the panels are made from composite recycled plastic which means they won’t need maintenance. The panels can be easily wiped down if they require cleaning. The way the panels have been designed also mean their content is easy to update if required.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to review the history of Scouting at Gilwell Park and bring our interpretation up to date. We have had great feedback from the first Cub Scout Pack to use the trail, and we are looking forward to ‘Buddy the Buffalo’ helping our younger visitors explore the Park. It’s also been a great experience working with different faith groups to ensure our stories are representative of our audiences and we better reflect the important role exploring faith, belief and values has within the Scouts.”

Caroline Pantling, head of the Scouts Heritage Service

If you would like to find out more about how the Scouts developed their new heritage trail you can contact Caroline Pantling on Caroline.Pantling@scouts.org.uk  

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