September 2015 – News Letter

Dear All,

I hope you have all had an enjoyable summer, and managed to visit a few Pulham sites on your travels.

In my News Letter for November ’14, I included some notes about a number of Pulham sites that were either scheduled for; were in the process of, or had recently benefitted from major restoration work, largely as a result of their local ‘Friends’ or councils receiving considerable grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund  The Pulham features on these sites were not the only beneficiaries of this restoration, of course, but it is really encouraging to know that this particular element of our garden heritage is recognised and valued so highly by English Heritage – or Historic Britain, as it has recently become known – and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and preserved for the enjoyment of present and future garden students and enthusiasts.

Two of these sites – The Swiss Garden at Old Warden, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, and Worth Park, in Crawley, West Sussex – are the main features of this News Letter.

A Special Pulham Study Day at The Swiss Garden

As noted in my previous letters and on our Presentation Diary page, Saturday, 3rd October is going to be a very Special Day.   There will be an all-day Pulham Study Day at The Swiss Gardem, Old Warden. Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, SG18 9ER to celebrate the completion of the recent major restoration of the gardens, including its many Pulham features, and, in addition to our own ‘The Pulhams of Broxbourne’ presentation, there will be talks by Corinne Price, Manager of The Swiss Garden, Drew Bennellick, Head of Landscape & Natural Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund, and Simon Swann, of Simon Swann Associates, who were responsible for the recent Restoration Project.   Following a general discussion, questions and answers, there will be a light lunch, and a tour of the gardens led by Corinne Price and Simon Swann.   We are looking forward to a great day, and the full programme will be as follows:

09.45    Registration

10.00    Corinne Price, Manager of The Swiss Garden – Introduction to the Swiss Garden

10.30    Drew Bennellick, Head of Landscape & Natural Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund

11.00    Coffee

11.30    Claude Hitching and Valerie Christman‘The Pulhams of Broxbourne’

12.45    Questions

13.00    Lunch

14.00    Simon Swann, Simon Swann Associates, responsible for the recent Restoration Project – Restoration of the Swiss Garden Pulhamite Features

14.30    Tour of the Swiss Garden, led by Simon Swann and Corinne Price

16.00    Tea available to purchase in Shuttleworth Restaurant

Projector Screen 4We do hope that you will be able to come along and join us.   Admission will be £35, and, if you have not yet booked, you can download a Booking Form here to make your reservations.

Valerie and I will also be talking to the Welwyn Garden City U3A Group on Monday, 12th October, and the Hoddesdon Family History Society on Wednesday, 4th November.   You can find full details of all our current engagements on our Presentation Diary page.

Major Pulham Restorations at Worth Park, Crawley

The restoration project at The Swiss Garden was largely funded by an award of £2.8 mil from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and another Pulham site that has benefited from a comprehensive restoration is Worth Park, Crawley, which received grants totalling £2.4 mil from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Big Lottery Fund.

 150909 - Worth Park Fountain CeremonyFig 1 – The large Pulham fountain at Worth Park

The several varied examples of the Pulhams’ work at Worth Park in 1885-86 are discussed comprehensively in Chapter 15 of Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy.   It was am early and very significant example of their more formal garden styles, which included large balustraded and ornamented terraces, fountains and compartmented gardens.   There was also a small Pulhamite rock garden and a quite unique large, covered, glass fronted ‘Camellia Walk’ that extended around the whole of one boundary of the gardens.

Worth Park became the home of Milton Mount College in 1920, but they moved in 1960, and the site was taken over by Crawley Borough Council.   The mansion was demolished in 1968, and replaced by a block of flats.   Although the gardens were well maintained, the structural features gradually deteriorated.   A ‘Friends’ group was formed in 2006, and worked with Crawley Borough Council from 2007 to try and secure Lottery funding.

The first bid was unsuccessful, but a revised second application – for a grant to help restore the Pulhamite features and the gardens to their former glory – was made and granted in 2011.   The actual restoration project started late in 2012, and is expected to take five years to complete.   However, work on the large fountain in front of the house was completed this year, and it was officially ‘re-opened’ in July.   Fig 1 was taken during the ceremony from the flats overlooking the fountain.

150909 - Worth Park Sundial Garden

Fig 2 – The ‘Sundial Garden’ at Worth Park following restoration, showing the restored Camellia Corridor in the background, with a small roofed section.   It was originally roofed along its entire length.

I was delighted to receive a note recently from Pam Graham – a member of the Worth Park Friends who keeps me updated on progress, and provided all the photographs reproduced here – and she kindly agreed to write a short report on the ceremony for this News Letter:

150909 - Worth Park Camellia Corridor - P Graham - worth park 003Fig 3 – The old ‘Fountain Garden’ at Worth Park – the fountain is no longer operative

‘Sunday July 19th 2015 was a Historic Day for Worth Park Gardens – families came together to celebrate a milestone in the multi- million pound restoration project as the large Pulham fountain was switched on again after many decades.   The HLF and Big Lottery-funded project still has another eighteen months to run, but all the hard-standing Pulhamite features have now been restored, and all that is left is the remainder of the landscaping.

The excess vegetation has been cleared from the Pulhamite Islands on the lake, and the Pulhamite rockery in the gardens has had some necessary restoration work, and pockets have been planted with different ferns.

Part of the old stable block – Grade 11 listed Ridley’s Court – has been renovated so it can be used for group meetings with an exhibition room, a meeting / lecture room and a kitchen.’

I have just received a postscript from Pam to say that the Worth Park gardens were entered into the Heritage Category of this year’s East and Southeast in Bloom Competition, and won a SILVER GILT Award.   Congratulations on a superb achievement!

150911 - Worth Park RockeryFig 4 – The restored rockery near the house at Worth Park

I am very grateful to Pam for keeping me updated like this, and thought how great it would be if more ‘Friends’, Head Gardeners or Owners could let me have a brief report on restoration projects etc under way at other Pulham sites around the country.   I obviously can’t visit them all myself, but would be delighted to include information about them in future News Letters.   I look forward to hearing from you.

‘Buy the Book’ Page Updated

141114 - Book CoverI have recently given the ‘Buy The Book’ page for Rock Landscapes’ a facelift, and started by renaming it ‘The Book Shop’ to make way for any possible future small publications that I may some day be able to produce about James Pulham and Son.

I have tried to make the Page simpler and more straightforward, and hope you like it.   Why not check it out?   All you have to do is:

  • Click ‘Add to Basket’ to go direct to the secure Checkout page of ACC Publishing Ltd.
  • Go to Checkout’ and Register’ as a ‘New Customer to qualify for an Introductory Discount of 20%
  • Enter the Promotional Code of PL1, to claim the massive Exclusive 40% discount on the R.R.P. of £35, to reduce the price of the book to only £21, plus £4 P & P.

This is a tremendous Bargain for what has been described as:

‘A Wonderful Book to Own, and the Perfect Present for a Garden-Loving Friend’

Happy Reading, and we look forward to meeting you at one of our ‘Pulhams of Broxbourne’ Presentations soon.   Very Best Wishes for now,

Yours Sincerely,


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