Tuesday 4 December 2012

Restoration of Swiss Garden at Old Warden Park, Bedfordshire.

Image from Biggleswade Today
Located near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire and owned by the Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth Remembrance Trust, Old Warden Park is home to the Shuttleworth Collection.

The Swiss Garden, Old Warden Park, Bedfordshire, created in the 1820s by Lord Ongley, is a late Regency garden and an outstanding example of the Swiss picturesque In the 1870s the 9 acre garden was bought by the industrialist Joseph Shuttleworth who introduced Victorian ‘improvements’, while retaining the original layout of the Regency plan.

The Swiss Garden in 1901 Image from Bedford Borough Council
Within the 10-acres of gardens is a superb collection of rare and unusual trees and shrubs, including Britain's largest Pieris japonica (lily of the valley bush).

Pieris japonica
As well as the islands and ponds, the garden also contains a number of structures and features. However, as with so many historic gardens, the Swiss Garden has felt the ill effects of time and lack of investment.  

Image from the BBC website
But now, thanks to a grant of £2.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) the garden is undergo a large restoration project.  Specifically, and according to the HLF announcement the grant will
'help the Garden’s owner, the Shuttleworth Trust, and its partner Central Bedfordshire Council, repair and conserve the Garden’s 13 listed buildings and ornamental structures including the Swiss Cottage, the Indian Kiosk, the Grotto and Fernery, ornate ironwork bridges and arches, stone animals and birds, marble memorial tablets and stone and metal urns.

The project will involve local residents in managing the Swiss Garden, and two horticultural apprenticeships and two built heritage apprenticeships will be offered. An important aim is to promote the Swiss Garden to a wide range of people so that more visitors, including school groups, can come and learn about this remarkable green oasis. Work on restoring the garden will begin in early 2013 and is expected to be completed by summer 2016.'

There is a short video about the garden and the grant can be viewed on the BBC website (sorry I can't embed the video here).

A brochure (above) about the garden is downloadable as a pdf from this link

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