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Nineteenth century terraced garden saved from ruin

Woodchester Park

The remains of an historic terraced garden, hidden and overgrown with tress, have been discovered at Woodchester Park. This year, thanks to essential funding from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust and the Linley Shaw Foundation, a £22,000 project has begun to reveal the gardens to the public.
The terraced gardens at the National Trust’s Woodchester Park, near Stroud, were created some time during the early nineteenth century and were associated with a Georgian mansion set within the grounds of the park, which was later replaced by Woodchester Mansion.
Very little is known about the garden which has been hidden under a commercial forestry plantation. Documents dating from 1843 record terrace walks, a temple overlooking the view of the gardens below and ornamental fountains. Archaeological surveys of the area have also revealed the existence of gravel paths hidden underneath a build-up of soil, as well as a pond.
Terraced gardens were traditionally used to provide raised walkways in the garden to take in a particularly beautiful view. Additionally, these raised pathways often provided well-drained, dry walking routes through the garden during wet weather and offered a gradual shift from the man-made architecture of the house to the natural landscape beyond.
The project, which will involve National Trust staff and teams of volunteers, aims to open up the garden area and restore the terraced walks for the public, so that they can once again be explored and enjoyed. Trees will be thinned in the garden area, old gravel paths will be mapped and re-instated and a new viewing platform will be created to take in the view.
‘This is a really brilliant opportunity to be able to carry out a project which enables us to bring the history of Woodchester Park to life for our visitors, and almost travel back in time,’ said Max Dancer, Area Ranger. ‘We’re in the exciting position of being able to reveal yet another aspect of this unique site.’
The terraced gardens link closely with the popular family play trail and waymarked walks at Woodchester Park, and the project also hopes to reinstate an historic path to enable visitors to Woodchester Mansion to directly access the gardens.
Research is still needed to identify more clearly how these gardens may once have looked, and for this reason the gardens will not be restored fully at this stage. However, there will be opportunities coming up for volunteers to be involved in both the archaeological investigations of the area, as well as the practical work of clearing and restoring.

We’re really grateful to the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust and the Linley Shaw Foundation for working with us and funding this work, which we hope will greatly enhance future visits to Woodchester Park,’ continued Max.

Explore Gloucestershire
1 September 2015

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