Hillfield Gardens (also known as Highfield, Woodbine Hill)6888

Gloucester, England, Gloucestershire, Gloucester

Brief Description

Now a Council-owned public park covering about 1.6 hectares, Highfield Gardens is supported by an active Friends group which organises annual events. The site is home to three interesting historic monuments. It was formerly part of the Hillfield Estate dating from the mid-19th century and has an entrance lodge with decorative iron gates. The house is used as offices by the County Council and the gardens are principally maintained by Council contractors.

History

The site was developed originally as the garden of an elaborate Victorian house built in the Italianate style around 1867-9, which replaced an earlier house from 1826 (known for a time as Woodbine Hill). The house is now County Council offices, following a variety of different uses.

Visitor Facilities

The garden is a municipal space for general public use. The house can be viewed by arrangement.

Detailed Description

The current site varies little from the 1886 Ordnance Survey map in layout. A driveway from London Road still sweeps up to the house (although vehicles now enter from Denmark Road). There is a perimeter path adjacent to shrub borders underlying mature pine trees in places.

Two ancient monuments adjoin the path visible from London Road (Scriven's Conduit and The King's Board). The path passes in front of the house and alongside a rockery with rocks dating from the original garden. A small rose garden is accessed from the driveway. The central area of the garden is lawn inset with several large trees and a grassed terrace. There are one or two semi-circular areas for bedding out plants. The chancel of St Mary Magdalen's Chapel is accessed by a path from the eastern end of the garden behind the ornamental lodge building.

The general condition of the site has been much improved very recently, following public consultation. Overgrown shrubbery areas have been cut back, an enclosed rose garden has been opened up to encourage public use, and an overgrown rockery has been cleared and replanted. Council contractors will maintain the main flowerbeds with appropriate annual bedding twice yearly. A planting scheme of low growing shrubs, ferns, perennials and bulbs has been approved by the Friends group for the cleared areas.

An annual fund raising musical event is organised as part of the Gloucester Festival, which attracts several hundred local people of all ages, who bring picnics and enjoy the music and the garden. The Friends apply for grants wherever they can and the Probation Service provided labour for the heavy work involved in tidying up the site, as well as voluntary work by local residents and professional contractors. It is a good example of how public and private partnership can improve a small urban park.

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Now Council Offices
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  • Religious, Ritual And Funerary Features
  • Description: St Mary Magdalen?s Chapel Chancel dates from the early-12th century. The richly ornamented doorway of the original chapel was set into the Chancel when the rest of the building was demolished in 186l. The chancel contains the recumbent effigy of a Lady thought to be St Kyneburgh.
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  • Conduit
  • Description: Scriven?s Conduit was erected in Southgate Street, Gloucester in 1636 to supply water to the citizens of Gloucester from a pipe which came down from Robinswood Hill. It was removed to a private garden in around 1784, being eventually returned to Hillfield Gardens in 1937. It is an open octagonal structure mixing Gothic and classical Styles illustrating the resources of the Vale of Gloucester. The finial has carved allegorical figures.
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  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: This feature is the entrance lodge (London Road). It is a contemporary ashlar-faced lodge with small round-headed windows, ornamental dormers to the overhanging slate roof.
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  • Gate
  • Description: The ornamental gates are made of wrought iron. They are by William Letheren of Cheltenham.
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The garden is a municipal space for general public use. The house can be viewed by arrangement.
History

Detailed History

The site was developed originally as the garden of an elaborate Victorian house built in the Italianate style around 1867-9, which replaced an earlier house from 1826 (known for a time as Woodbine Hill). The house is now County Council offices, following a variety of different uses.

The garden, typically Victorian in style containing three mature Redwood trees, became a public park around 1933 and is home to two historic monuments in addition to the chancel of a 12th-century chapel (the main chapel being demolished in 1861.

Though valued locally as a park, public consultation in the early part of the 21st century revealed that use would be enhanced if various areas of concealing hedging and undergrowth were removed to open up the area, so that people felt safer when using the park. A Friends group was formed in 2005, and working with the City Council and local organisations, they have spearheaded the recent improvements to the gardens, which have led to increased public use. Musical events are held in the gardens each year which attract several hundred local people.

Period

  • Victorian (1837-1901)
Contact

Telephone

01452 301041

Official Website

Click Here

Other websites

Owners

  • Gloucester City Council

    North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EP
References

References

Contributors

  • Joan M Jones

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