Million insects saved as part of £8million of National Lottery funding

Million insects saved as part of £8million of National Lottery funding

Scarlet tiger moth
Plans to save a collection of a million bugs are among six projects celebrating a share of £8m from The National Lottery across London and the south of England.

A million bugs

Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s British Insect Collection has over a million specimens from the 18th century to today, including some that are now extinct.

Spanning nearly the entire history of British entomology, the collection is vital in understating the extent and impact of species loss and ecology damage.

However, aging and broken storage means the insects are at risk from theft, toxic materials and even pests. The Westwood Room where they are currently kept is not open to the public.

Stag beetle
Stag beetle collection. Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History


Supported by £703,700 from The National Lottery, the insects will be rehoused, undergo vital conservation and be fully documented for the first time.

The Westwood Room and its anteroom will restored ready for exhibitions and events to share the story of Britain’s bugs and inspire a new generation of entomologists.

An incredible collection of projects

Artist's studio
Anchor Studio. Credit: Borlase Smart John Wells Trust


Five other projects have been given the go-ahead by The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s new London & South Committee.

  • Anchor Studio in Cornwall awarded £319,700. The 130-year-old artist studio in Newlyn will be restored and opened as a live/ work space for a new generation of artists.
  • Bevis Marks Synagogue in London awarded £2,799,400. Europe’s oldest continuously used synagogue and its at-risk collections will receive vital conservation and create new community spaces to make its heritage accessible to all.
  • Highdown Gardens in Worthing awarded £813,200. The chalk gardens’ huge, but at-risk, collection of rare plants will be saved and helped to flourish. The old gardener’s bungalow will become a visitor centre to share the gardens’ horticultural heritage.
  • Sailing Barge Raybel in Sittingbourne awarded £685,800. The Thames sailing barge will be restored in time for its 100th birthday in 2020 and the stories of those who have sailed with her will be revealed for the first time.
  • St Marylebone Parish Church in London awarded £2,965,700. Urgent restoration work will save the Grade I listed building’s failing roof and transform the Crypt Hall into a community and events space.

Stuart Hobley, Director of England, London & South, said: “What an incredible set of projects! From the natural world to the art world, from the creepiest of crawlies to some of our most profound and humble spaces – these schemes show what can be possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.”

Local decision makers

Flowers in a park
Hesperis growing in Highdown Gardens. Credit: Worthing Borough Council


After significant changes to The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s grant-making process, the Committee now has decision-making powers of up to £5million across London, the south east and the south west. It means local decision makers make 80% of funding decisions compared to 45% previously.