Nantwich’s Hidden Walled Garden
Hidden away, yet close to the centre of Nantwich, there is an ancient walled garden dating back to the early 17th century. The garden consists of about half an acre of land surrounded on three sides by Grade II listed walls. It was part of the site of Townsend House (now demolished), built in 1580 by the local Wilbraham family, who lived there for 200 years. After the family moved out, the house, surrounding buildings and land had many uses, but the garden remained largely untouched, being used for grazing cattle and as an orchard.
The garden today
The walled garden, which at the time of writing is neglected and overgrown, is unusual because of its age (most walled gardens are Victorian) and its proximity to a town centre (most are attached to stately homes in the countryside). Historic England (formerly English Heritage) considers it to be a rare surviving example of a walled garden of its time period.
Its recent history
However, in 2001, the land between the north wall and Waterlode became the new Kingsley Fields development and the walled garden became subject to several planning applications to build houses on this historic site. In 2004 the Nantwich Walled Garden Society (NWGS) was formed to fight these planning applications and protect the garden and its historic walls.
The future of the garden
NWGS believes that the walled garden is in the ideal location to provide Nantwich with a quiet secluded place for townspeople and visitors to sit and reflect and enjoy nature. It could also be a green link for animals, birds and insects to move around the local area.
There are various options for the type of garden which could be created within the shelter of the beautiful walls. It could be based on a typical 17th century design; it could be a sensory-type garden with fragrant herbs and rustling grasses; it could even be a physic garden, to reflect the fact that the world-famous herbalist John Gerard was born in Nantwich.
It is the aim of NWGS to see the latest planning application refused, just as all the previous applications have been. If and when that happens, we intend to negotiate with the owners to purchase the site and restore the garden and walls. Of course that will need a great deal of fundraising and lots of hard work but we believe it is essential to protect and preserve this very special piece of Nantwich history for the benefit of the whole community.