CBA takes lead role in Swiss garden revival
The garden is a hidden gem and one of England’s most delightful historic gardens, says CBA. It was created in the 1820s by Lord Ongley, as ‘a Swiss idyll’ within Old Warden Park, Bedfordshire.
The nine-acre garden was later bought by the industrialist Joseph Shuttleworth and is now owned and managed by the Shuttleworth Trust.
A major restoration is being undertaken with a £2.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with match funding provided by the Shuttleworth Trust. The three-year project will see ‘a comprehensive programme of landscape restoration work’, together with the repair and conservation of the garden’s 13 listed buildings and ornamental structures, including a Swiss cottage, Indian kiosk, grotto, fernery and ironwork bridges.
CBA, which was responsible for drawing up and letting the landscape contract including all specifications, drawings and schedules of work, says it is one of few UK practices with the appropriate specialist landscape expertise to meet the demands of this ambitious scheme.
The £400,000 landscape element of the restoration will address the restoration of all the principal 19th century components of the garden ‘that make it such a magical place’, including paths, boundary fencing and extensive tree and shrub planting.
The project is being coordinated and managed by Liz Sutton of Ruby Tiger, and CBA is working closely with building conservation architect Chris Garrand Consultancy of Luton, among others, and landscape contractor Hortech, of Stone, Staffordshire.
On completion, the gardens are expected to provide a major public visitor attraction and complement the nationally significant existing historic aircraft collection at Shuttleworth.
A ‘bare earth approach’ was never adopted as an appropriate policy for the garden’s restoration, says CBA principal consultant Chris Burnett. ‘There’s a magical quality to the garden and we had to ensure we did not destroy its genius loci in the process. It is a remarkable green, historic oasis and we are really delighted to be able to contribute to its renaissance for the enjoyment of future generations.’