Jekyll and Lu­tyens gar­den re­born

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

THIS year, Hester­combe Gar­dens in Ched­don Fitz­paine, Somerset, is mark­ing 20 years since open­ing to the pub­lic and, to cel­e­brate, a cam­paign was launched last Fri­day to raise £1.5 mil­lion to­wards the restora­tion of the his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant land­scape, which spans three cen­turies and in­cludes one of the best ex­am­ples of de­sign by Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lu­tyens.

Hester­combe House has seen its fair share of foot­fall: it was a Bri­tish and, later, Amer­i­can Army base dur­ing the Sec­ond World War; some 33 bar­rack blocks were con­structed in the grounds (only one now re­mains) and, in 1944, a Junkers Ju88 crashed onto the drive (shot down by the Air Force). Much of the 18th-cen­tury parkland was felled for tim­ber in 1963 and the house pro­vided a respite for re­turn­ing sol­diers af­ter the Nor­mandy land­ings and later housed the con­trol room for the Devon & Somerset Fire & Res­cue Ser­vice un­til 2012.

In ad­di­tion to the sub­stan­tial restora­tion that has al­ready taken place—for­tu­itously, Jekyll’s orig­i­nal plans were found stuffed into a drawer in a pot­ting shed in 1973—a range of projects is now planned, in­clud­ing the re-cre­ation of Sibyl’s Temple, a lost 18th-cen­tury ro­tunda, the re­in­state­ment of a lime-tree av­enue planted be­tween 1904 and 1908 to a Lu­tyens de­sign and the re-es­tab­lish­ment of a 1750s her­mitage over­look­ing the Vale of Taun­ton, the foun­da­tions of which were un­cov­ered by ar­chae­ol­o­gists only rel­a­tively re­cently.

The £1.5 mil­lion will also cater for an en­dow­ment to se­cure fu­ture sus­tain­abil­ity and there are hopes to re­store a rare El­iz­a­bethan Wa­ter Gar­den in the fu­ture.

Thanks to a gen­er­ous private char­ity, the first £200,000 raised will be matched pound for pound. The Hester­combe Gar­dens Ap­peal is the first stage of a larger am­bi­tion to raise £8 mil­lion for a com­plete restora­tion of both house and gar­den, plus the es­tab­lish­ment of a new gar­den, 12 artist stu­dios and an au­di­to­rium to seat 200.

‘Hester­combe has been trans­formed over the past 20 years,’ says CEO Philip White, ‘but there is still more to do and this is the first step on a new jour­ney, which will take us even closer to giv­ing cur­rent vis­i­tors and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions a true taste of what Hester­combe looked like in its hey­day.’

To do­nate, visit www.hester­combe.com/ap­peal, tele­phone 01823 413923, pick up a do­na­tion form in per­son or text ‘HEST20 £’ adding the amount you’d like to give (up to £10) to 70070. If you’d like to do­nate to a spe­cific project or leave a legacy, con­tact Hester­combe di­rectly.

Along­side the launch of the ap­peal is a 20thanniver­sary ex­hi­bi­tion, ‘Com­plet­ing the Pic­ture’, un­til May 21, with images from the archives chart­ing the story of Hester­combe from Ar­ca­dian land­scape to ruin and re­birth.

Hester­combe Gar­dens is seek­ing £1.5 mil­lion to help re­store its his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant land­scape

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