Conservation,  History,  Nature,  work party


Restoration works

You may have heard about plans to do some restoration work at the Italian Garden, and the viewing platform just below Chamberlain House.

The Italian Garden project has been under discussion for a few months, between the Landscape Practice Group (LPG), the Trust & Charities Committee, Cllr. Mullaney, Phillada Ballard (historian) and others, including us.

The plan is to bid for somewhere between £50k and £100k bid to restore part of the Italian Garden, mainly the balustrade and pergola, via English Heritage and perhaps Heritage Lottery. The English Heritage Grants for Historic Buildings, Monuments and Designed Landscapes seems a likely prospect.

In order to develop a project budget, LPG need to estimate the cost of replacing special bricks and stonework. See the preceding Bricks post for some detail about what’s happening with that, and get in touch if you want to help with the restoration project!

The viewing platform just below Chamberlain House is part of the former rhododendron garden, rockery, and ornamental pool. The entire area has been neglected for decades, and the balustrade has been badly vandalised in the last couple of years. Whilst there is no formal plan for restoration (yet) various efforts are being made to reduce the risk to that structure, and to let more light in, and encourage more people to circulate through.

The current plan involves coordination between the Trust & Charities Committee, Cllr. Mullaney, Simon Cooper (Parks Manager), parks maintenance provider Quadron, and the Highbury Community Partnerships volunteering scheme.


The first job in reducing risk to the balustrade is to clear the trees growing from the stonework, followed by clearing the very large laurel that have dominated the area for so long that they’ve killed all the undergrowth. A Quadron tree crew has started this work, accompanied by volunteer efforts to help clear the downed branches and sort the material into brash for hedgelaying and logs for corduroy paths across the muddy bits.

The photos below show the changes made over the last few days. Clearing will continue, as will volunter work moving the brush aside, sorting it, and using the wood for suitable projects.

Somewhat longer term, we’ll want to continue clearing large laurels, dredging the pond, and re-establishing other sorts of plants. More light and breezes will help dry the soggiest bits of ground, and may help channel the flow of water for better drainage overall.

If you’re interested in these sorts of conservation work, please come along to the next work sesssion this Sunday afternoon at the orchard/farm site, or get in touch by other means. We are usually on site by midday, sometimes much earlier. This Sunday (Nov 21) there’ll be a tour of the various project sites from about 1:00. If you haven’t come along to one of  our other works sessions, that’s probably the best time to show up. Hope to see you there!

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