Picton Castle and Gardens

Walled Garden Restoration Project

When you visit Picton Castle and Gardens you will find our Grade II Listed walled garden brimming with an eclectic and colourful collection of plants informally arranged in large beds. Look beyond this and you will become aware of an urgent need to restore the built structures of the eighteenth century garden. The walls have plants growing in them and there are partially derelict buildings; these include the old Head Gardener’s office, the Gardener’s Bothy and a fruit storage room, above which is a rare example of a grape store.

Fully restoring the garden and securing it for future generations will cost £1.2 million and this extensive project is now underway. We will save this unusual and historically significant garden and group of buildings and bring them back into sustainable use whilst retaining their character and setting. The project is being jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Picton Castle Charitable Trust. Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales said, “Gardens, parks and woods are a vital part of our heritage – it’s very important to us to keep them safe and thriving.”

The first stage of the restoration will focus on careful conservation of the high garden walls and the wonderful entrance gates, iron railings and gateposts which are topped with what we believe to be Coade stone pineapples. If you visit the garden in the winter 2019/20 you will see that work on the gates, the ornamental ironwork and the walls has begun in earnest. The iron railings and gates have been removed for restoration, the foundations of the old peach glass houses are being investigated and the walls are being painstakingly repaired and restored by conservation stonemasons.

But it not just the main garden that will be restored. Next to the Walled Garden is a part of the garden that has hitherto not been open to the public. This courtyard area is where the Head Gardener’s Office and Gardener’s Bothy (cottage) were located. The bothy originally provided accommodation for young, single gardeners who lived in the garden and whose duties included stoking the furnace and boilers for the glasshouses and providing ventilation to the glasshouses during the night. Adjacent to this were the potting sheds which now form Picton’s Indoor Fernery. Here you will find potting mixtures written on the door in pencil by the gardeners at the time, dating from the 1890’s.

This whole area will be restored and opened to the public for the first time. The old cottages and bothies will be renovated and converted into use for visitors, including a training and education room, an interpretation suite, and improved volunteer and visitor facilities. We will be rebuilding a Heritage Glasshouse and the original cold frames. One of the aims of the restoration and redevelopment in the courtyard area is to create a new kind of practical visitor experience. We plan to create educational outdoor planted areas exploring the world of plants and their uses to mankind. This will enable us to expand our educational outreach to local schools and other interested organisations.

 

Artist’s plan of the renovated Walled Garden and Courtyard

 

The Wildlife of the Walled Garden

Conservation in all its forms is at the heart of the the Walled Garden Project. Assisting in the project are a team of experts in their field including Conservation and Environmentalists, Architects, Surveyors, Interpretation and Educational Specialists. As part of our preparations we have undertaken extensive environmental impact assessments. These have revealed that Picton Castle’s Walled Gardens are home to Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats, Brown Long-eared bats and Soprano Pipistrelles. We also have other precious species such as slow-worms and a range of reptiles and amphibians. It is vital to ensure that these wonderful creatures are protected and their habitats are safeguarded. To this end we are building specialist bat roosts, which we have nicked named The Bat Hotel. As part of our planned educational work and to ensure our conservation work is open to the public in an inclusive way, we plan to install wildlife cameras for the public to observe the bats without them being disturbed (the Bat Cam!).

Brown Long-eared Bat

Brown Long-eared Bat. Photograph, Fourrure from France [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

We will be providing regular updates on the Walled Garden Project as it develops, and any interesting historical or archeological discoveries we make along the way in our weekly Picton Blog. The Castle and Gardens, including the Walled Garden will remain open throughout the restoration. So do come along to see the progress of this exciting project to restore the Gardens to their former glory and to expand and improve our visitors’ experience.

Funding for the Restoration

The Picton Castle Trust is a charity (No.519693) and its objectives are to restore and preserve the Castle and Gardens and to safeguard its future for the benefit and pleasure of the public. Of the £1.2 million needed to complete the Walled Garden project, £670,000 has been granted by Heritage Lottery Fund. The remainder needs to be funded by Picton Castle Trust. The generosity of our visitors, supporters and local businesses has been crucial to achieving these aims but to complete the restoration the Trust needs to raise the final £40,000.

If you can, there are a number of ways you can help:

‘Donate a Slate’ scheme

Here’s a novel idea, how about writing your own personalised message on one of the roof slates?

We will be refurbishing the original welsh slates on the restored buildings, including the the Bat Hotel. You can write your own dedication on the slates, in an indelible white ink (which looks like chalk). Your message will be saved for posterity in your own hand writing.

Dedicating a Roof Slate is just £10. If this is something that might interest you, please speak to the staff at in the Gift Shop at the Picton Castle or telephone the Castle Office on 01437 751326. You can also email us at: info@pictoncastle.co.uk

Make a Donation

You can also make a donation today, by clicking this link.

Thank you for your generosity, your participation in this project will really make a difference and together we can preserve this part of our heritage for generations to come

Please see our dedicated Gift Aid page for more information