Bedfords Park Walled Garden to return to former glory
- Credit: Archant
The Bedfords Park Walled Garden has always been a bit of a secret.
“There is something really special about it,” said project manager Kirsty McArdle. “It is magical because it hasn’t been spoiled, because for so many years it was shut out to people.”
The garden became less secret recently when it opened to the public for the first time in its long history.
The opening, called A Midsummer Night’s event, drew more than 100 visitors.
The 1.3-acre site was created in 1771 to serve as the estate’s kitchen garden.
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Kirsty explained: “The house was owned by John Heaton and the garden would have been used to grow the fruits and vegetables needed for the home.”
In 1933, the garden was handed over to Romford Borough Council and used to grow food for school meals.
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Sadly, in 1999, it had to be closed after the wall starting falling down.
Lois Amos, the secretary of the Friends of Bedfords Park said: “There was no money to keep it going and it just sat there and, of course, there was vandalism and lots of break-ins.”
Things started looking up in 2007 when Lois arranged for Scouts to clear some of the garden as part of their movement’s centenary.
Lois said: “We had Scouts from all over the world coming together to clear almost a quarter of the garden.
“We tried to keep it in the public domain but had to close again. There was lots of broken glass and it wasn’t safe for people to be there.”
But the Friends of Bedfords Park were determined to revive the garden.
In 2008, the team persuaded charity Clear Village to help with the restoration.
Five years on, work has already begun on rebuilding the walls thanks to a £250,000 Big Lottery Fund grant.
When finished, it is hoped that the garden will become a community food-growing project.
Lois said: “There is still a lot more work to be done, but we have come a long way.”