At the end of September last year, Elinor and I visited the Plantation Garden in Norwich. Elinor had missed a visit to the garden with her Art class because she hadn’t been well, so we decided we’d go there and have a look for ourselves. It is a Grade II English Heritage registered garden nearly 3 acres in size.
For many years the place where the garden is was an industrial site. Hundreds of years ago, tunnels were dug into the side of the hills to extract flints that were used to build the city. (One of these tunnels was accidentally discovered by a bus when it fell down it in 1984!). The chalk surrounding the flint was gradually dug out to make lime for mortar and agricultural purposes. Eventually a deep quarry was formed.
In 1855 the Trustees of the Preachers’ Charity who have owned the land since 1613, decided to convert its use from industrial to residential. The man who had been running his business as a builder/bricklayer/lime burner at the quarry site was (I presume) asked to move out and Henry Trevor moved in. Trevor was a prosperous upholsterer and cabinet maker who was also an enthusiastic gardener. When he took out the lease for the site he said he was eager to build a fine house and garden in ‘this deep dell’.
Trevor bought the decorative materials for the hard structure of his garden from Gunton Brothers, a brickworks at Costessey (pronounced Cozzey) just to the west of Norwich, who made ornamental windows, chimneys and patterned bricks and sent them all over the country. Henry Trevor used these bricks (and other Gunton materials) most imaginatively along with material he found on the site and material acquired elsewhere such as natural and knapped flints, plain bricks, carrstone and clinker from local gas works and kilns. The Gothic Revival style was very popular at the time (1857) and this ‘medieval’ style was Trevor’s favourite.
Trevor decided on the ‘Italianate’ style for the steep southern wall of the quarry. He constructed flights of steps, balustrades and pedestals with urns on them. He included a little rusticity and built a summerhouse on the top terrace to balance the rustic bridge at the north end of the garden.
His tour de force is the Gothic fountain in the centre of the garden.
Rock works were also fashionable at the time so Trevor included a 30-metre-long one in his garden. He planned to plant the steep sides of the quarry with trees and with evergreen shrubs as an understorey. To do this he must have created planting holes and brought in soil to fill them. The planting is now over-mature and many of the original trees have died, but there are still some of the original 19th century plants and trees in the garden.
The Plantation Garden Preservation Trust is trying to raise funds to restore the many paths and steps all over the plot which enabled all Trevor’s guests and friends to view his garden from different levels. He loved nothing better than having visitors and regularly opened the garden to the public.
The garden is being restored very carefully and the planting schemes are lovely and in keeping with the history of the site. I haven’t included many of the plants I saw there as I have concentrated on the original architecture in this post. It is a very strange place and some of the ornamentation is a little over-fussy for my taste but it is also a beautiful garden and so peaceful and remote from the city though sited in its heart.
I obtained most of the details included in this post from information boards placed round the garden. I am very grateful to the PGPT for supplying this information.
I have included a link here.
Thank-you for visiting!