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Part 1: The Team

Part 1: The Team


Following the council meeting, a joint working party was set up to oversee the project, with membership drawn from the county architect's department, the fire brigade, Cannington and the Crown Estate.

Leslie Johnson chaired the group, which met for the first time on 23 May 1973.

One of the remarkable aspects of the restoration is the fact that none of the people involved had any prior experience of restoring a historic garden, and yet they developed a way of working and a methodology for the restoration which bears many of the hallmarks of good practice in garden restoration work today.

The team of people most closely involved with the restoration included Bil Mount, Harry Baldwin, John Ford, Madeleine Pickthorne and Lorna McRobie from the county architect's land section; Roy Cheek and Stuart Brookfield from Cannington; Mr. Ellis representing the Crown Estate; Harold Deer (known as ‘Dougie') and Ray Hitchcock from the fire brigade; and Hestercombe gardeners Wilf Perry and Jim Stagg.

Accurate research was very important from the start. In addition to the original Jekyll plans, two sets of articles by Christopher Hussey for Country Life magazine, from 1908 and 1927, gave further information on the planting and provided photographs of some of the missing artefacts that had been sold off by the Crown Estate in 1953.

The working party drew up a phased plan for the work to be done over the next five years. Preparations for replanting began almost immediately, while money was sought for repairs to the stonework and structures, which was assessed at a cost of more than £4,000.

The west face of the
Orangery in 1972/3

Writer Betty Massingham (left) and restoration team members inspect the Rotunda in April 1975.

The restoration of the Formal Garden at Hestercombe 1973 to 1980 Part 2