History and Achievements

History and Activities of the Trust

Braintree District Council set up the Trust in 1986 to promote the work of John Ray and to bring his name back into the public domain.

The Trustees of the John Ray Trust are representatives from Braintree District Council, Trinity College, Cambridge, and members of the local community and local businesses.

Regular activities undertaken by the Trust include:

Financial Support of Natural History Work

The Trust originally established two funding schemes – a bursary programme to assist University students with the cost of short-term projects in all aspects of natural science, and the John Ray Scholarships. 

The bursaries were payable to students from across the world – but studying in Britain – and others working within the natural sciences. Many of the bursaries were awarded to undergraduates to assist them with their third year projects, but some have been awarded to applicants to assist with the publication of scientific books. Bursaries were generally in the region of £200 to £400. In return we asked the students for the copy of their final report. These were then made available at a research level to other students in a library in the John Ray Galley in Braintree District Museum. Over the years we have assisted around eighty people in this way.

The scholarships were funded by a sponsor (DCH). They were available to students of natural science who were born and bred within the Braintree District. However, the criteria for this scholarship were very specific, and to date three scholarships have been awarded. 

In 2012, to widen participation and more directly encourage local students, the Bursary and Scholarship schemes were replaced by Summer Research Grants and an annual John Ray Science Prize presented in the Braintree 6th Form. For more information on these schemes please click on the funding names above.  

John Ray Garden 

The Trust maintains a garden within the Braintree and Bocking Public garden for the education and enjoyment of local residents and visitors. Established in 1986 the garden features plants that would have been familiar to John Ray in the 1600s.

Talks to local organisations

The Trust undertake a number of talks each year to local groups. If you would be interested in a talk on the work of John Ray please do contact us. 

Producing literature on John Ray

Since 1986 the John Ray Trust has been producing literature to promote the Trust and Ray’s achievements.


Organising activities such as dinners, garden parties and fetes to raise funds for the Trust.

Visits to Trinity College Cambridge and the John Ray lectures

In addition to these regular activities the Trust has undertaken a number of projects since its foundation.

Early Projects 1986 – 2000  

Erecting a statue of John Ray (1986)

Originally erected outside Barclays Bank in Braintree, the statute now stands in the garden at the front of Braintree District Museum in Manor Street.  

John Ray Garden (1986)

In 1986 the Braintree and Bocking Gardens Trust allocated an area within the Public Gardens that is dedicated to John Ray and which is now maintained by the John Ray Trust. The garden features plants that would have been known to Ray for their value in medicinal pastes and potions or culinary uses. Today it is a sanctuary of peace but also an educational resource. In 2009 this garden underwent major restoration funded by the Trust. In 2019 we installed new garden signage which enables the story of John Ray to be brought to a new audience of local people of all ages and backgrounds. 

For more information click here

John Ray Wood (1994)

In partnership with Braintree District Council, The Notley High School, John Ray Junior School and John Ray Infants School this woodland was planted as an aid to education but also a public area for local enjoyment.

Opening of the John Ray Gallery, Braintree District Museum (1996)

The Trust worked in partnership with the museum on this project, assisting both practically and financially. For more information please visit https://www.braintreemuseum.co.uk/home/collections/john-ray/

A Conference: John Ray and his Successors: the Clergyman as Biologist (1999)

This conference was organised by the Trust in conjunction with the Institute of Biology History Committee and the Society for the History of Natural History. It attracted more than forty papers from academics across the world and was felt to be a great success but a lot of work!

John Ray Walk (2000)

Through Parish partnership, Essex County Council and Braintree District Council the John Ray Trust were party to the organisation of a nine mile walk from Witham to Braintree, linked by the railway line. Parts of the walk covers ground that Ray would have walked to school in Braintree. It also passes the place of his birth and Faulkbourne Hall where he lived for a short time.

Braintree John Ray Rose (2000)

Bred by Colin and Heather Horner of Stansted the rose was the Trusts Millennium Celebration. The rose is flourishing in the gardens at Middleton Hall in Warwickshire where John Ray lived with his benefactor Francis Willoughby for a number of years. 

2000 – Present

Conference (2005)

A Conference in partnership with the British Naturalist Society to celebrate their one nterpret birthday and honouring Ray on the 300th anniversary since his death.

Concerts in St Michael’s Church Braintree (2005)

As part of the conference events the Trust organised two concerts involving pupils from local schools. Through words and music we entertained audiences of more than 400 people

A weekend of events to celebrate John Ray (2010)

Financed in part by a grant from the Royal Society, Braintree District Council Museum Service and the Trust shared the organisation of this weekend culminating in a John Ray Walk in Black Notley.

Halstead Riverside Walk (2013)

In partnership with Halstead Town Council and the River Stour Trust we developed a riverside walk in Halstead town centre and erected nterpretative material and habitats to encourage bird, small mammals and insects as part of the Riverside Living initiative.


John Ray Nature Day, Braintree District Museum (2015)

The Trust helped fund and took part in this special day at the Museum which included a series of talks on John Ray and stalls by local nature charities.

Visit to Middleton Hall (2017) 

Trustees visited the home of Ray’s close friend and long-term benefactor Francis Willoughby. A number of cuttings of the John Ray rose were brought back to increase stock. 

For more information on Middleton Hall please visit https://www.middleton-hall.co.uk/

Visit to Trinity College, Cambridge (2018)

Trustee Dr. Sachiko Kusaka arranged a visit to Trinity College Cambridge to see where Ray studied and taught, the stained glass window of Ray in the college Chapel, and the Ray papers in the Wren Library. 

Family Nature Event and Garden Signage Launch (2019)

The Trust installed two new family-friendly signs in the John Ray Garden to help visitors learn more about his famous discoveries. In May the Trust ran a free family nature afternoon to mark the official launch of the signs, with over 200 people enjoying a range of activities including building an insect hotel, planting seeds to take home, making your own geological planet and creating a butterfly mosaic.

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