‘Lost garden’ of Elford Hall saved

The ‘lost garden’ of Elford Hall, near Lichfield in Staffordshire, is to be saved for the local community, thanks to a confirmed grant of £248,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the efforts of dedicated volunteers.

The walled kitchen garden and gardeners cottage is all that remains of the Georgian Elford Hall Estate, built in approximately 1825 by Henry Bowes, Earl of Berkshire and Suffolk.

Elford Garden Wall - Pic HLF

Elford Garden Wall - Pic HLF

Remaining in the family until 1936, the hall, garden and outbuildings were then donated to Birmingham City Council (BCC) as a gift for local residents.

After falling into disrepair the hall was demolished in the 1960s and now the remaining garden wall and associated outbuildings are Grade II listed.

Half a mile of trees

The 12ft high wall, measuring 350ft by 300ft, encloses a space that has been largely neglected for the past 50 years and once housed half a mile of fruit trees.

The Elford Hall Gardens Management Committee is a voluntary community organisation formed in 2007 by local people determined to rescue it for community use.

They will now be able to start work restoring it to its former glory, giving local people the chance to get involved in the work and to cultivate allotments there.

Anne Jenkins, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the West Midlands, said:

“The community has come together in support of this project to conserve an historic walled garden that will be brought back to productive use after so many years of neglect.

Volunteers will be able to gain new skills and schoolchildren learn about nature, local heritage and the environment.”

Allotments

The HLF funded project to restore the walled garden is part of a larger initiative that will see the former head gardener’s cottage restored to provide space for a coffee shop, toilets and a classroom.

There will be educational activities linked to local schools who have already expressed interest in using the garden for visits.

The Victorian gardens, herbaceous borders and orchard will be re-created, and allotments – a feature of the original gardens – will also be established giving the community an opportunity to take an active part in ensuring the site’s sustainability.

A bowling green and tennis courts will also be constructed within the garden walls, original structure and pathways restored, and routes made accessible to picnicking areas along the adjacent River Tame.

Local people have expressed their enthusiasm for this approach. Just some of the exciting volunteering and educational opportunities that the HLF project offers are:

  • training and opportunities for participants to learn skills including path laying, fencing, horticultural planning, and learning about environmentally friendly methods of food production
  • a gardening club for all ages with talks, events, and workshops
  • a series of lectures on rural crafts from hedge laying to basket weaving
  • creation of a local schools heritage trail
  • working with three local schools to produce new site interpretation
  • a 12 week Princes Trust training programme for fifteen young people who will help plant the orchard and herb garden

Dave Watton, Chair of the Elford Hall Gardens Management Committee said:

“We are all delighted to receive such substantial backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund which will enable us to deliver this exciting project to maintain an element of Elford’s rural heritage for the benefit of so many people in the years to come.”

When completed it will be an amazing asset not only for Elford but for the whole of Staffordshire and the wider region.





Speak Your Mind