Winchester Cathedral & Garden Highlights Walking Tour
In the morning we were first treated to a guided tour of Winchester Cathedral by Mark and Ann Lovett, BGT Members and experienced Cathedral guides recommended to us by Christina Hill-Williams, our President. We gained a far better insight into the complex history and construction of the Cathedral and its treasures through their enlightened and amusing talks, which come highly recommended.
Following this, we enjoyed lunch either at the Cathedral Refectory or in the several pubs and good cafes which can be found in the adjacent streets before joining the Winchester Garden Highlights Walking Tour.
It is always a great pleasure to meet colleagues from other Gardens Trusts, and not least those from our neighbours at Hampshire Gardens Trust. The afternoon was spent with Sally Miller and her team of fellow garden researchers, who very kindly took us on a very enjoyable and informative guided tour of a series of gardens from around the Cathedral up to the Great Hall. The gardens are all visible or accessible to the public and, although more modern in their design, all reflect their individual historic settings.
We first visited the Dean Garnier Garden. The land was part of the Deanery Garden in the Close but was given by the Dean for the creation of a public garden in 1994/1995 in memory of Dean Garnier, a keen horticulturalist and founder of a world renowned arboretum at Bishopstoke. The garden comprises three garden rooms, designed to create individual spaces of different character reflecting its ecclesiastical setting.
We then went onto the Water Close Garden created in 1958 on the site of a row of small cottages opposite Colebrook House. Viewed from one side, the garden is an oasis of quiet reflection designed to give a view of the Cathedral from the adjacent public path
Close by we came to the Abbey Gardens next to Abbey House. The Garden Temple with its Doric portico and 4 columns was erected in 1759 originally to screen the Abbey Mill from views from the house and gardens. The land was finally purchased in 1890 to create a Public Pleasure Ground; as it remains today with lawns, a rose garden and colourful displays of bedding planting; bounded by the River Itchen.
We left this Cathedral group to go onto College Street Garden, designed by one of the Art Masters of Winchester College to include a pergola and brick and stone detailing, typical of the 1920s. We then continued up the narrow historic streets to the military area, first visiting Searle’s House Garden, laid out in 1954 as a Garden of Remembrance by Captain F R Sawyer in a 18th century style for the Royal Hampshire Regiment. The garden is planted with roses from the battlefield of Minden and a tree from the Ploegsteert.
Higher up the hill we entered the Peninsula Square Gardens on the parade ground vacated by the army in the 1980s. As part of the conversion to residential use the parade square was laid out as a formal garden set around a grand pond with fountains; interspersed with small lawns, hedges of lavender and compact evergreen shrubs, including tree ‘soldiers’.
Finally we reached Queen Eleanor’s Garden, a little gem on the south side of the Great Hall. Designed by Dr Sylvia Landsberg in consultation with John Harvey, this is the first example of an authentically constructed and planted medieval garden in Britain. From there we were gratefully led to an excellent tea room near the Military Museum.