Friends of the Walled Garden

Friends of Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden

The Friends of Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden are a registered charity (Registered Charity 1141915) and were set up to provide volunteer support and to raise funds for the garden by organising events. The charity is run by an Executive Committee, all of whom are members and trustees of the charity.

The objectives of the charity are:

To enhance the value of the garden to the community, support the Parish Council in maintaining the garden and its structures, and to promote the educational value of the garden in terms of historical significance and horticultural interest.

How the Friends Began

The story began in the mid-1990s when the Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden Conservation Project, a group of concerned local residents, were determined to stop the garden being lost to make way for housing development.

After the estate passed to Roger Charlton Parr, the mansion and formal gardens were sold in 1951, for £7500.00, to the British Transport Commission and the walled garden was separately gifted to Mr Power, a former employee of the Parrs.

The house and surrounding land were sold to the Warrington New Town Development Corporation in 1975 and the house, which had become severely dilapidated, was demolished and many of the associated structures were removed.

The walled garden remained in the ownership of Mr Power’s son and was used to keep poultry. Mr Power contacted John Campbell of the Warrington Organic and Wildlife Gardening Society (WOWGS) to see if they would be interested in cultivating part of the garden and they agreed to do this.

The Commission for New Towns (predecessor of English Partnerships) was planning to develop the site and surrounding land and had since acquired the walled garden from Mr Power. A historical landscape study was commissioned and the University of York concluded that the walled garden may be of national interest due to its unusual design features and recommended conservation of certain basic elements of the nineteenth century gentry estate. The Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden Conservation Project (a charitable trust) was set up and, after a successful campaign to save the garden, work then began to make the garden ready for opening to the public.

The WOWGS continued to cultivate the kitchen garden and in 2005, when the Garden was transferred from English Partnerships to Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council, with an endowment to fund ongoing maintenance, the Group’s campaign to secure the future of the Garden was finally over.

There is no doubt that the Garden’s survival is due to the Group, and everyone who appreciates the garden today owes them a debt of gratitude

Friends of the Garden Today

Over the last few years the Friends group has played a very active role, through their own tireless efforts and also through helping to engage the local community. The Friends have run a wide range of very well attended fund raising events such as Food Fairs, Summer Fun Days, Christmas Fairs, Plant Sales, Children’s Craft Activities, Coach Trips, Hog Roasts, Picnic in the Park and Cheese and Wine evenings to name but a few. In addition to raising valuable funds for the garden, this has also publicised the garden to the wider community and greatly helped to increase visitor numbers.

The Friends were able to contribute £25,000.00 towards the Heritage Lottery Fund project to refurbish the derelict glasshouses and have also purchased, amongst many other things, a machine for labelling plants and trees, rhubarb forcing domes, fruit cages, two bench seats, a poly tunnel and staging. The Friends also contributed towards the purchase of the large Gazebo and resurfacing of the rear courtyard.

The Friends set up a volunteer run café which quickly became very popular with visitors. The volunteers baked lovely home-made cakes and made the very best of the facilities which were, at the time, very basic indeed. The café went from strength to strength, thanks to a the hard work of a team of very dedicated volunteers, and gradually the facilities were improved and new crockery and equipment was purchased by the Friends. When the café reopened in 2014, after closure during the refurbishment of the glasshouses, it became so popular that it now opens 3 days a week and is run by a professional catering company to keep up with the increased demand.

The Parish Council have always encouraged the Friends to be an active group, not just people who want to be informed of developments, but people who want to roll up their sleeves up and get involved.

Activities of the Friends over the years have included the following:

  • Contributing ideas on the development of the garden.
  • Participating in maintenance and planned improvement of the garden.
  • Raising funds for the garden.
  • Carrying out further research into the history of the garden.
  • Acting as hosts and guides for visitors to the garden, both at regular openings and special events.
  • Publicising the Garden in the local community and beyond.
  • Volunteering at the garden.

To download a copy of the latest Friends Newsletter and to see recent updates and further information visit: www.friendsofgrappenhallgarden.org.uk

Joining the Friends

If you would like to play an active part in the future development of the Garden the Friends are keen to hear from you.

The benefits of membership include the following each year:
• receive a quarterly newsletter about the garden
• receive advanced notice of forthcoming events
• receive a discount on tickets for some events
• be able to attend at least one members’ only event each year

The cost of membership is just £10.00 per annum for a family living at the same address. The subscription also goes towards covering our administration costs/mailings etc.

Please get in touch at friends@ghwalledgarden.org.uk for further information. The Friends will be able to discuss ways of getting involved which suit your interests and the amount of time you are able to spend.

If you have a query on your membership, or need any more information, you can now email the Membership Secretary direct on members@ghwalledgarden.org.ok.

To download a membership form click here.

See www.friendsofgrappenhallgarden.org.uk to see the latest Friends newsletter plus updates and further information.