The Trust’s geographic area includes most of the communities in the Purbeck district of Dorset, with the exception of Lytchett Minster, Upton, Swanage and the parishes between Studland and Worth Matravers. Click on the map to see the area in more detail.


WDDT Area Map

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If you're not familiar with this beautiful part of Dorset, and want to know more about the area, click here.



Wareham 'Tree of Life & Laughter Community Garden' Project 2015 and onwards


Latest Update January 2018

New Garden Opening A Blooming Success

After several years of hard work and fund-raising the once neglected space to the rear of Wareham Library is now a totally revitalised community garden, exhibition and display space all rolled into one.

As well as the original Tree of Life & Laughter there are flower beds, one planted by the children of St Mary’s Primary School; ceramic murals created by children and the students of the Purbeck Day Centre with the help of Purbeck Art Weeks; a bug hotel designed by Stoborough School ECO Group and built by Domvs; enhanced Roman Villa threshold remains from the Bucknowle excavation in the 1970s; commemorative benches, trees and plaques.

On Tuesday 19th September local schools, community groups, businesses and all those involved in the project came together for the grand opening, the ribbon being cut by the children of St Mary’s Primary School.

‘It’s not until you take a step back and look at what has been achieved that you realise how hard working and supportive of each other our community is here in Purbeck, and long may it continue,’ says John Scott, Development Manager, Wareham & District Development Trust, and leader of the project.

‘We still have work to do, more benches, tables and planters to source, but we are already looking at all the potential uses of the space created. We have had discussions with local groups and businesses, and some local attractions, and hope to start taking bookings for Easter 2018 onwards,’ says John.

The Garden has been created for one and all to enjoy, resident and visitor alike, and is accessible through the Library every day except Sundays.


Update January 2017

The garden is almost finished! Here are a selection of photos taken over the spring and summer of 2017: (Click on the photos to enlarge)




Currently, to the rear of Wareham Library, there is a large walled garden with some flower beds, a few bushes and a couple of benches, plus Wareham’s ‘Tree of Life and Laughter’, and remains of a 200AD Roman villa threshold. Although the garden is accessible to the general public it’s lack of appeal means that it is only used by a handful of people each week, whereas the Library itself, and the Discover Purbeck Information Centre who share the building, have a combined footfall of over 100,000 people per year.

Our ‘partners’, they being the Library itself, Discover Purbeck, Wareham Town Council, Wareham In Bloom, the Registrars, who also share the building, Stoborough WI, Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Allotments Association, and the Library users and Purbeck community in general, would like us to convert the garden into a more vibrant, more usable and far more welcoming space. The creators of the ‘Tree of Life and Laughter’, Wareham Senior Forum and children from two local schools, would also like their efforts to be better displayed, appreciated and enjoyed by far more people than at the moment.

Last year (2014) we formed a committee of all the partners with a small ‘working group’ of four. This group, led by the Trust, drew up a brief and then invited three local landscape designers to submit plans for the total redevelopment of the garden. Of the three plans one was preferred and based on that three local contractors were then invited to submit quotations for the work. It is this work that we now require funding for.

Added to this there is a further element that we also need funding for. Currently within the garden are the remains of a Roman threshold, part of a local Roman villa excavation and donated to the Library some years ago. At the moment this important piece of our social heritage is but a pile of stones on the ground. It is our intention to move the threshold to the south west corner of the garden and place behind it a 2.2m x 2.2m ‘trompe-l’oeil’ creating a representation of the view through the doorway into the furnace room of the villa as it once was, and accompanied by relevant information. We have the full support of Dorset County Museum, Dorset County Council, Wareham Archaeology Society and Lilan Ladle MBE. Three quotations for this element of the project have also been requested and received.

At the moment the garden is, as I have said, a totally underused space, with a town centre location, situated within easy access of all the amenities including good transport links, and therefore potentially accessible to the 100,000 people who already use the Library and Discover Purbeck Information Centre, the whole community of Purbeck and our many thousands of visitors each year. There is no other space within Wareham like it and the town has no real parks or areas of trees.

All those involved in the project would like the area to be used not only as a tranquil green space on some occasions, in which to relax, read a book and enjoy a coffee, but also on other occasions to be a vibrant and thriving venue for local organisations, groups, school parties. A venue for craft displays, exhibitions, a whole host of opportunities, and even weddings.

Basically we all want to convert the space from a ‘forgotten garden’ into a multi-functioning facility available to one and all, and at the same time raise enough revenue to be able to manage and maintain, and improve if needs be, the whole facility for the next 20 years at least. (20 years being the agreed timescale of the lease between the Trust and Dorset County Council, the owners of the land)

What others have said

‘The garden could become a haven for the community to enjoy, a natural and pleasing garden with full wheelchair access and encouraging wildlife. Also ideal for craft displays, local produce sales and special presentations.’

Beryl Ezard, Councillor, Dorset County Council

‘Existing activities for children such as Rhyme Time, Library Gets Lively, Chatterbooks, Teen Reading Group, holiday events, stories and crafts, Adult Play Reading, charity fairs, gatherings and even weddings could all move outdoors into a splendid new location.’

Jude Leyman, Library Manager

‘The plans to improve the outdoor area of the Library look very exciting and will certainly make the space much more attractive for local people and visitors alike. It will increase the area’s value for wildlife and improve its amenity value considerably. Overwhelming evidence is available showing the benefits to human health of being outside surrounded by a more natural environment, so any encouragement for people to do this is definitely to be applauded.’

Briony Baxter, Dorset Wildlife Trust

The situation is, at July 2015:

The Trust has agreed to lease the garden from Dorset County Council for the next 20 years, until 2035.

Being an extended lease holder now allows the Trust to be able to apply for funding to go towards the £40,000.00 need to complete the work, hopefully by April 2016.

Applications for funding support have been, and continue to be, sent out, and we hope to hear some positive feed back by September so that the work can begin in October/November.
Our own fund-raising efforts and donations have already raised £3,000.00.

The ‘diary’ will be updated as and when we have further news to tell you.

The current situation is, as of January 2016:

The Trust has agreed to lease the garden from Dorset County Council for the next 20 years, until 2035.

Being an extended lease holder now allows the Trust to be able to apply for funding to go towards the £40,000.00 need to complete the work, hopefully now by the summer of 2016.

Applications for funding support have been, and continue to be, sent out, and we are beginning to hear some positive feed back and achieve some results.

Our fund-raising efforts and donations thus far have already raised over £10,000.00, with contributions of £3,000.00 from the Valentine Charitable Trust, £500.00 from the Purbeck Rally, and just this week £750.00 as a Wessex Watermark Award. (See the press release and photo below.)

The ‘diary’ will be further updated as and when we have news of two outstanding applications, which if successful, will mean that we will have achieved our target and work can begin.

Contact details:

John Scott, Development Manager, Wareham & District Development Trust
01929 554236  Mob: 07971 029940 E-mail:

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Click on thumbnail images below to see a larger version (opens in new window):

Below: Latest Images: Autumn 2017

Below: As of 2015, the Wareham Library Garden

Above: Remains of a 200AD Roman villa threshold

Proposed plans for the total redevelopment of the garden








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