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English Heritage Gardens open to the public in Lincolnshire
Registered Charity No: 1050884            A company limited by guarantee.
Registered in England and Wales No 3124566.
Registered Office:
Lincolnshire Gardens Trust Limited,The Manor House, Utterby. Louth, LN11 0TH
Web Design © Daniel Rollitt 2011

HRH the Duke of Gloucester opened English Heritage's new visitor centre and 'secret modern garden' at the Bishop's Palace on a balmy, sunny afternoon in 2001. He gave a royal seal of approval for the innovative setting in this prestigious historic location:  "Absolutely stunning!"

English Heritage had organised a Contemporary Garden Competition with the brief to design an easily maintained contemporary garden for a small, neglected terraced area where there was an ugly prefab bungalow, unkempt grass and two gnarled old apple trees, located below the Bishop's Palace. No easy task. In Spring 2000, Steffie Shields represented Lincolnshire Gardens Trust on the judging panel that included designer Arabella Lennox Boyd and garden writer Stephen Anderton and other Lincoln city dignitaries from the Council, the Diocese, and the Lindum Hill Partnership, whose combined support had helped English Heritage to bring the project to fruition.
At least 40 other designers/architects entered, eager to win this commission. Award-winning designer Mark Anthony Walker (Chelsea Gold 1998) won the competition, his design succeeding in the creation of elegant space - a garden for all ages. Children run in and out of the trees and up and down the grid of old brick rills that link the trees.  Young yew hedges are set behind rustic wooden benches below the Roman wall that has been capped with turf for protection from the elements.  Planting is kept to minimalist simplicity on the edge - blue lavender, Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' and crimson climbing rose, Rosa 'Guinee'. "Let the garden speak for itself" said Walker. Work began in autumn 2000. The topography created huge problems for the contractors, Blakedown from Gloucestershire (Andrew Whitfield, Contracts Manager and Neil Farmer, Project Manager). Access was not easy for the team bringing in hard core for the deep foundations, and other materials.

The first sight of the garden is, unusually, from above. Nine clipped, fastigiate hornbeam trees, (sourced from Germany) define the geometry and give an Italianate feel that succeeds in linking the garden visually and attractively with the adjoining vineyard. Stepping into the garden there is a feeling of airiness, a calm space from which to enjoy both the city skyline and Temple Gardens below. A graphic garden of textures - from the old stone walls to the soft grass, to the rustic brick rill and blue slate chippings, from the sleek railings to the shiny steel bosses that surround each tree, Walker took his inspiration from, and sought to recall, the bosses of the cathedral vault and the silver of chalices. The play of light on the reflective, polished steel circles ensures constant change, and they glisten like pools in the rain.

Lincoln now has a very striking garden for the 21st century that sits well within the Roman and medieval walls that frame it, without detracting from the spectacular views below. English Heritage Custodian Chas Rogers is delighted that the garden attracts even more visitors to the Bishop's Palace. This unique and stylish 'secret garden' sits below the great cathedral and the Medieval Bishop's Palace, surrounded by antiquity and wide vistas, and is, quite rightly, a garden for contemplation.
The Medieval Bishop’s Palace Contemporary Garden, Lincoln
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Registered Charity No: 1050884            A company limited by guarantee.
Registered in England and Wales No 3124566.
Registered Office:
Lincolnshire Gardens Trust Limited,The Manor House, Utterby. Louth, LN11 0TH
Web Design © Daniel Rollitt 2011

Page updated 12/12/2015