Our Story

Explore our history, meet our owners, understand our purpose, and learn about the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and our vision for the future.

A place in history

Pensthorpe village dates back to Anglo-Saxon times – a graveyard from the Early Middle Ages was discovered here and our café is on the site of a church from the period. Look out for the remnants of it when you visit! And we know from the Domesday Book, the manuscript of William I’s Great Survey, completed in 1086, that at that time Pensthorpe had a stone church, a watermill and was home to 15 households.

Natural beginnings

Pensthorpe as we know it today was founded by visionary conservationist Bill Makins. He designed a sustainable gravel extraction process, removing over one million tonnes of gravel from the site. The result of his hard work was a stunning 200-acre site and one of the most biodiverse nature reserves in England.

A new era

In 2003, Pensthorpe’s owners Bill and Deb Jordan bought the park, with a plan to preserve its character and develop it further. They’ve grown the site to a staggering 700 acres, and their enthusiasm and focus on conservation led to Pensthorpe becoming home of the BBC’s Springwatch programme from 2008–2010, elevating its status and reaching new audiences.

Award-winning adventure

Wanting to inspire the next generation of nature lovers, we launched WildRootz and Hootz House in 2013 and 2015 respectively. These engaging adventure play areas are unlike anything else Norfolk has to offer, and Hootz House was awarded for its ingenuity, winning the Graham Allen Award for Conservation Design and the Local Authority Building Control Award for best inclusive building.

Meet our owners

Leading the flock are our enigmatic owners Bill and Deb Jordan. Prior to purchasing Pensthorpe in 2003, the couple lived in Bedfordshire where Deb had a successful career in fashion and photography, and Bill ran Jordans, the hugely successful cereal business he co-founded with his brother. Wanting to raise their two children in Deb’s native Norfolk, they jumped at the chance to buy Pensthorpe and combine Bill’s knowledge of sustainable farming practices with their longstanding love of nature. They’ve been part of the landscape ever since.

Pensthorpe Conservation Trust

Started in 2003, the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust plays a pivotal role in ensuring the park and its inhabitants will be around for generations to come. Working with partner organisations, it strives to be a centre of excellence for habitat management and restoration, and the conservation of bird species.