Restoration of University of Bristol's Clifton Hill House Garden complete

One of Bristol's oldest heritage estates has been reinvigorated, following a year of work to restore original Georgian features.

Wildflowers now frame the Georgian mansion. Image: University of Bristol
Wildflowers now frame the Georgian mansion. Image: University of Bristol

Clifton Hill House Garden has been owned by the University of Bristol for more than 100 years and won a £35,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant. The money enabled Bristol landscaper Nicola Greaves to work with volunteer coordinator Louise Hopkins and a group of volunteers to return the garden to its former glory.

Clifton Hill House was completed in 1750 and today a hall of residence. It won a national award for its restoration in 2004 but its surrounding grounds had to wait a bit longer for its own regeneration.

Greaves remodelled the garden in a traditional Georgian patte d’oie (goose-foot) layout, based on historic records of the garden shown in maps of Clifton from the time. 

Clifton Hill House’s renowned architect, Isaac Ware, was a supporter of the 'landscape garden movement'. Befitting of this style, the garden has been given a naturalistic feel, with a wildflower meadow, a woodland walk and a wildlife pond. 

As part of the project, one of the ‘turrets’ - an intriguing garden folly which is believed to predate the house, has been restored. A blue plaque will also be instated in honour of Dame Katherine Furse, who was born at Clifton Hill House in 1875 and who went on to found the English Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) force.

Head of external estates at the University of Bristol Alan Stealey said: "We are thrilled to finally be able to open the garden to the public. The university is a custodian of Bristol’s heritage and Clifton Hill House has played an architectural and social part in its development. We are very grateful to the HLF and volunteers who’ve given up their time to make the restoration possible."

The garden will hold an open day for the public on 10 September. The University of Bristol regularly holds historic garden tours and events. To find out what’s coming up visit the University of Bristol garden events webpage.

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