RHS gardens: Bridgewater set to join society's four existing sites

Bridgewater will join RHS gardens at Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon, Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in Yorkshire - the last acquired, by donation, in 2001. Visitor numbers to the four gardens are 1.76 million a year and RHS membership totals 445,000.

William Nesfield was involved in the development of the gardens from 1846. The Gardener's Chronicle (now Horticulture Week) described the New Hall and its grounds in 1846. There were six terraces, separated by stone balustrades with the top two featuring parterre de broderie, intricate patterns based on 17th century French embroidery designs created using coloured gravels and plantings.

Beyond the formal terraced garden was landscaped parkland, which extended southwards towards a lake. The listed Garden Cottage and Bothy are still standing. The modern garden centre buildings are likely to be demolished. Archaeologists have uncovered the hall's foundations.

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