Rediscovering Walmer Pleasure Grounds

Bright Culture was commissioned in 2018 to lead on the evaluation of the National Lottery Heritage Fund project at Walmer Castle in Kent.

A view down steep outdoor steps to a wooded garden.

Delivered over three years between 2018 and 2021, the project aimed to restore and make accessible parts of the gardens for the first time in around 100 years. Work included enhancing the visitor experience through improved access, interpretation and play; a new café and toilets, an education and volunteer space and a community outreach programme.

Walmer Castle is a Tudor fortress that was gradually transformed into an elegant seaside retreat with gardens and pleasure grounds in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is situated six miles north of Dover in Walmer and is adjacent to the beach. Alongside the restoration work to the gardens, a community outreach programme aimed at developing audiences at the site was delivered, creating opportunities for participants to get involved in the project.

Bright Culture were commissioned to work alongside the team and support the evaluation of the project. This included designing the Evaluation Plan and Framework which set the baseline for recording data and would enable examination of the extent to which the vision, objectives, NLHF outcomes and targets were achieved.

The project was delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic which meant changes to the project and evaluation methodologies were made throughout delivery to ensure that data could still be collected and in a manner that adhered to government restrictions.

A wide range of methodologies were used for this project, including family workshops, focus groups, vox pops, online surveys, 1:1 interviews and comment cards. The data was continuously analysed to inform the project as it moved forward. The final part of the commission was the production of an Evaluation Report which the team sent to the funder. The report told the story of the impact and change created by the project for the site and the participants and the successes and challenges encountered. In addition to the report, a case studies leaflet was produced which highlighted the range of community outreach projects delivered.


Working with Bright Culture you can have confidence of so many things – excellent communication, a good working relationship and a high-quality final product. They know exactly what is needed for a thorough and well-researched evaluation report as well as how to produce something which is a valuable document for both reflecting upon a project and putting into practice key learnings. On top of being experts in the field, they are friendly, approachable and highly efficient – we would be keen to work them in the future.

Sonia Lahiff, Head of Grants & Trusts   English Heritage