'Lost garden' of Elford Hall in Staffordshire to be restored with Heritage Lottery Fund grant

The "lost garden" of Elford Hall, near Lichfield in Staffordshire, is to be saved with a grant of £248,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the efforts of local volunteers.

The walled kitchen garden and gardener's cottage is all that remains of the Georgian Elford Hall estate.

The hall, garden and outbuildings were donated to Birmingham City Council (BCC) in 1936 as a gift for local residents. After falling into disrepair the hall was demolished in the 1960s and now the remaining garden wall and associated outbuildings are Grade II listed.

The 4m-high wall, measuring 105m by 90m, encloses a space that has been largely neglected for the past 50 years.

The Elford Hall Gardens Management Committee is a voluntary community organisation that will now start work restoring the site to its former glory, giving local people the chance to get involved in the work and to cultivate allotments there.

HLF West Midlands head Anne Jenkins said: "The community has come together in support of this project to conserve an historic walled garden that will be brought back to productive use after so many years of neglect. Volunteers will be able to gain new skills and schoolchildren learn about nature, local heritage and the environment."

The HLF-funded project to restore the walled garden is part of a larger initiative that will see the former head gardener's cottage restored to provide space for a coffee shop, toilets and a classroom. There will be educational activities linked to local schools that have already expressed interest in using the garden for visits.

The Victorian gardens, herbaceous borders and orchard will be re-created, and allotments — a feature of the original gardens — will also be established giving the community an opportunity to take an active part in ensuring the site's sustainability. A bowling green and tennis courts will also be constructed within the garden walls, original structures and pathways restored, and routes made accessible to picnicking areas along the adjacent River Tame.

Elford Hall Gardens Management Committee chairman Dave Watton said: "We are all delighted to receive such substantial backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will enable us to deliver this exciting project to maintain an element of Elford's rural heritage for the benefit of so many people in the years to come."

The money has been awarded through the HLF's heritage grant scheme, which offers funding of £50,000 to £1m.


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