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National Trust implement innovative Ground Source Heating system

ground source heat project at Kingston Lacy, Dorset,


In 2022, the National Trust announced it had removed a million litres of oil from its properties, following a nine-year investment programme in clean energy technologies to “get off oil” and grow its own green energy supply. Most recently a pioneering ground source heat pump has been installed at one of the Trust’s country mansions, making this one of its biggest renewable project installations to date. 

Kingston Lacy, near Poole in Dorset, will save 30,000 litres of oil and approximately 57 tonnes of carbon a year following the switch to ground source heating. The new system will also remove the danger of oil spills from the previous ‘high risk’ boilers and storage tank.

The old oil tank has been replaced by almost 6,000m of underground pipes, which transport natural ambient heat in the ground to four high temperature heat pumps, that in turn warm the mansion house and courtyard buildings. The complex installation of pipework involved drilling 32 vertical boreholes in an overflow carpark, with each hole measuring a staggering 180m in depth. Specialists spent two years conducting extensive archaeological and ecological surveys to ensure the protection of the historic parkland.

Owen Griffith, project manager at the National Trust, inspects the heat pump at Kingston Lacy in Dorset
Owen Griffith, project manager at the National Trust, inspects the heat pump at Kingston Lacy in Dorset

Owen Griffith, Lead Renewable Heating Project Manager for the National Trust, said:

“Even in the most historically significant settings like Kingston Lacy, it’s possible to integrate these modern technologies while maintaining the utmost care for the building and the grounds.

“Not only will the heat pump reduce the property’s dependency on fossil fuels, but it’ll create a safer environment and improve conditions for the amazing collection items here. There are so many advantages.”

“Magnificent buildings like these have been around for centuries, but their heating systems have evolved – from open fires to coal boilers and then oil boilers, with many energy innovations along the way. This is simply the next step in Kingston Lacy’s history and preservation.” continued Owen.

Another 100 renewable energy projects – including many heat pumps – are in the pipeline for the next six years to further reduce fossil fuel use and help the charity reach its ambition of net zero by 2030.

The Spanish Room at Kingston Lacy dating from 1838-1855
The Spanish Room at Kingston Lacy dating from 1838-1855

The 17th-century country house, located near Poole, was built to resemble a Venetian palace and is renowned for housing one of the UK’s finest collections of paintings, with works by Titian, Velazquez and Rubens, and an extravagant Spanish Room that the estate’s creator, William John Bankes, designed from exile. 

Dr Elena Greer, Curator at Kingston Lacy, added:

“We’re proud to house one of the National Trust’s most significant holdings of fine art, including an internationally renowned collection of Old Master paintings. The new heat pump means we can more easily maintain the optimum environmental conditions for their display, ensuring that they can be enjoyed by generations of visitors long into the future.”

Owen concluded:

“Most of our visitors won’t notice the low-carbon energy systems working hard behind the scenes – and we’re proud of that. We want our renewable technologies to complement the fabric of the setting. That has been a guiding principle from the start.”

The project at Kingston Lacy has been made possible by a funding contribution from Low Carbon Dorset as part of the European Regional Development Fund.