Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bridge End Garden, Saffron Walden

click photo to enlarge
Bridge End Garden in Saffron Walden, Essex, was largely created in the 1840s by the Gibsons, a wealthy Quaker family with links to banking and brewing. Unusually, it didn't adjoin their residential property and they would have had to walk a short distance to enjoy its beauty.

The Garden is subdivided into seven smaller, themed areas that include a Dutch garden, maze, rose garden and kitchen garden. It features a number of carved plaques and statues that date from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, some made of Coade stone. A brick pavilion and a larger summer house also remain from the 1840s. Given the distance between the family home and their garden these small buildings would have been not only pleasant places to sit but also essential places of retreat from inclement weather.
The gardens suffered a gentle decline during the twentieth century and towards the end of that period were in need of attention. In 2003 a major programme of restoration was undertaken by the local community with the help of Heritage Lottery Funding and sums from other charitable bodies. Over a five year period a transformation was achieved. The aim was to return the gardens to very much the condition they exhibited at their flourishing best. So, species were planted that were available in the 1840s and the restoration of the built fabric was undertaken with sensitivity to the original materials. The kitchen garden restoration was part of the second phase of work and two Victorian-style greenhouses were installed. One of these has soft fruits such as peaches, nectarines and apricots, the other features citrus fruits such as orange, lemon and lime. Part of one of the greenhouses is used to grow annuals to display in the newly constructed plant theatre.

The gardens are open to the public, free, and offer much of interest to the visitor. They are a fine example of what can be achieved by the goodwill, effort and imagination of a community working together for a common and shared goal.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 47mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On