Originally a Georgian house with a Garden Temple, the grounds were bought by Winchester City Council in 1890 and converted to a Public Pleasure Ground. Now has formal flower beds, a rose garden, a scented garden and an enclosed children's play area.
A house and grounds built in the 18th century on the site of King Alfred's Nunnaminster. Since 1890 a public park.
Visitor FacilitiesOpen daily
Detailed DescriptionAbbey Gardens are on the site of King Alfred's Nunnaminster and were the gardens of Abbey House built in 1751. The site was bought by Winchester Town Council in 1890 and laid out as a Public Pleasure Ground. Today they provide an attractive, well-kept public park area with a Doric Garden Temple, part of the river Test, flowerbeds and an enclosed children's play area. They are well-used by both Winchester residents and the many visitors to this ancient cathedral city.
- Access & Directions
Access Contact DetailsOpen daily
Abbey House, possibly designed by William Pescod in 1751, lies on the site of King Alfred's Nunnaminster. The majority of the surviving house is late 18th century. In the grounds is the Garden Temple built about 1759 across a conduit to the Abbey Mill. The temple has a Doric portico of 4 columns, entablature and pediment crowned with urns.
In 1890, Winchester Town Council applied to the Local Government board for a loan of £5000 to purchase the land to be used as a Public Pleasure Ground. Folkestone Place, a row of houses facing the Broadway, was demolished and the grounds were laid out and 'improved' during 1890-91. During the 1890s the brick walk surrounding the property was gradually replaced by iron gates and railings paid for by Richard Moss. A bridge was constructed opposite the front door of the house and money was spent on turf, trees, shrubs, bulbs, seats, a notice board and even goldfish.
The Temple was repaired, cleaned and painted, a large greenhouse disposed of, paths laid out along the river, trees thinned out and 24 seats located. The gardens were open on weekdays from 11.00am to 8.00pm and on Sundays from 2.00pm to 5.00pm.A statue of Queen Victoria by Sir Arthur Gilbert RA, commissioned for the Golden Jubilee in 1887 and sited in the Castle Yard, was moved to the Abbey Grounds and remained there until 1910 when it was returned to the County Council and placed in the Great Hall.
During the 20th Century the property has been continuously maintained despite some setbacks during the two World Wars, eg in 1939 three ugly air-raid shelters were constructed and some iron railings were removed. The Gardens now have several formal flowerbeds, a rose garden, a scented garden for the blind and an enclosed children's play area.
- Early 20th Century (1901-1932)
Hampshire Gardens Trust