CAP.Co, the adventure play specialist, has worked with Stonor Park in Oxfordshire, one of the oldest stately parks in the UK, to create an innovative new adventure playground called “Tumblestone Hollow”. The space takes inspiration from an ancient stone circle within the grounds of the estate.
The company has also used the playground to bring to life the creatures from a new children’s book by popular author Amy Sparks and illustrator Steve Pearce, The Legend of Tumbledown Hollow. Both the story and the play space are themed around exploration and escapism – something that many families are in need of after months of lockdown.
A magical new space
The space is designed for four to twelve-year-olds alongside their families and was part-funded by the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. It will be ready to open on Easter weekend this year, with the hope that the lockdown will have been lifted and families can get out and spend some quality time together.
“The planning of Tumblestone Hollow has been nearly eighteen months in the making,” says William Stonor. “However, with the onset of coronavirus, lockdowns, and the effect this has had on children, it became evident to us that outdoor spaces like this are needed more than ever.
“We decided to focus on providing families and children with something truly magical and exceptional, somewhere they would feel free to explore, discover nature and enjoy safe, outdoor play and CAP.Co were the obvious partner for us to bring these amazing stories to life in a structure which blends perfectly with Stonor’s rich heritage.”
CAP.Co director Simon Egan said, “Working with William and his team at Stonor Park, over the past eighteen months has been fantastic. The park and house, which are one of the most historical in the UK, presented lots of opportunity for our designers to be their creative best. We are delighted that William and Ailsa are as pleased as we are with the result.
“Since we started the business in 2014, we have been on a mission to get children playing outside again and when so many children and adults have had little or no access to big, open spaces or recreation, our hope is that these wonderful new areas at Stonor will give families the perfect chance to get out and about together”.
An immersive storyline
Tumblestone Hollow is made from sustainably sourced chestnut and conforms to the highest safety standards. Sitting within the peaceful parkland and surrounded by the Chiltern hills, it provides a space for children to play and enjoy a unique story.
Stonor’s ancient stone circle, which gives the house its name, is echoed in the playground’s large boulders. These create the sense that Tumblestone Hollow has always been there. There are also high-level walkways, climbing nets, look-out decks and bridges, connected by one distinctive central tower.
Within the gnarled tower, spiral steps lead to a high lookout deck with views across the whole playground and access to connecting bridges and towers. While kids explore, parents and grandparents can relax on surrounding giant wooden benches with an Illy coffee, wood-fired pizza or other treats from The Hollow Hut.
Visitors can continue to enjoy the story at home too, with the stories from the book, which fills in more details about the magical creatures who call Tumblestone Hollow home.
“There are so many wonderful stories and myths connected with this ancient site, Stonor is perfectly suited to storytelling and we are immensely pleased to be working with Simon and his team at CAP.Co,” says Lady Ailsa Stonor.
“The playground brings the mysticism of Stonor to life and provides inspiration for children to create their own games and stories around our five special characters Pebble, Grit, Obsidian, Jem and Flint, who live at Tumblestone Hollow. We really hope it will spark children’s imaginations, with characters that will stay with them as they grow up.”
Last year, CAP.Co completed several successful projects, including an accessible playground on the island of Bermuda.