Restoration begins

Date: 1980s
Source: photogaraph by volunteer Allan Sewell
In Ex Fonte (the original title of the magazine) no 1, 1980, there is a description of the state of the fountain and what needed to be done. This photograph illustrates the description: ‘At a first glance the fountain appeared, almost more than anything else in the garden, to be in imminent danger of collapse. Inspection by the builder member who is in charge of the work on the fountain, however provided a reassurance that, in fact, the basic and structural parts of the fountain are in a remarkably sound condition and the fears that the fountain is leaning to one side are groundless.’

Well done Henry Trevor! and well done the early volunteers who quickly set to work stabilising and restoring this structure which was immediately adopted as the icon for the PGPT.

Date Early 1980s
Source Photgraph by Allan Sewell, a volunteer
The photgraph shows Bryony Nierop-Reading, who organised the first meeting, in Norwich City Library, of people who would be interested in starting the restoration of the Plantation garden. She had been alerted to the existence of the garden by a midwife who attended the birth of her baby (the baby is invisible but held in a sling on Bryony’s chest).

As a result of that meeting, the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust (PGPT) was formed. Details of the progress of the restoration are best followed in ‘Ex Fonte’ (from the fountain). The fountain was adopted as a symbol for the garden from the formation of the Trust.

The photograph gives a vivid impresssion of the overgrown state of the garden and the formidable task that lay ahead for the early volunteers.

Date: 1980
Source: photograph by volunteer

This photograph shows as clearly as the 1980 photographs of the fountain (e.g. PGPT302) what a task was taken on by the original volunteers in the garden. A comparison with PGPT320, of the same view, indicates how much work was done to remove the years of growth of ivy and reveal the structure underneath. It is certainly to the credit of the original builders that once the ivy was removed so much of their work was still standing.

Date: 1980
Source: Photograph by volunteer

For other pictures of the fountain in the early 1980s see PGPT085,181,201/2. This view has been taken looking West, so the Plantation house can be seen top left through the overgrown saplings.

Date: 1980
Source: photograph by Allan Sewell
This view looking North from the Italian balustrades toward the house complements PGPT319. In the foreground is part of the ivy mountain covering steps and balustrades, the lawns and paths have disappeared under a covering of saplings, tall grass and brambles.
PGPT201 and PGPT202

Date: 1980
Source: photograph by volunteer, probably Allan Sewell

This image of the fountain basin crumbling and overgrown with young saplings can be contrasted with PGPT199 after the efforts of volunteers had restored it.

The rainwater collected in the bottom of the basin explains how generations of frogs had managed to breed there.

Date: 1980
Source: photograph by volunteer Allan Sewell
This photograph shows the ruinous state of the retaining wall in the south east corner of the level area of the garden in 1980 when the Trust began its work. The most prominent of the mixture of materials are the Gunton Bros spiral chimney bricks, bottom right, and the three sections of balustrading middle left.
PGPT253 shows the restoration in progress.
Date: 1980
Source: photograph by volunteer
Here we see the remains of a thatched rustic summer house which were found on the lawn near the Plantation house in 1980.The ‘swan’ panels on either side of the door were preserved by the PGPT for several years (cf PGPT331), but they eventually deteriorated to the point of no return.
Examination of these panels and other details proved that this was the summer house in the background of the family photograph of 1886 (PGPT415)
In 2002 the PGPT obtained grants and appealed to members for the sum necessary to pay for a reproduction summer house, built by a specialist firm, to be constructed at the top of the Italian terrace (cf PGPT135).
For further discussion about the original position of the summerhouse and its restoration see Ex Fonte no.22, 2002 p.11 and no.23, 2003 p.9.
Source:Sketch by PGPT volunteer in PGPT archive
This sketch was an attempt to reconstruct the ‘Gothic Alcove’ from the (very obscure) background on the left of PGPT027
Source: photograph by courtesy of Eastern Daily Press
Much work has been carried out in the 4 years since the Trust was set up (see PGPT 201/2) but the basin has not yet been lined. John Watson (see PGPT192) is the central of the 3 figures and had probably invited the newspaper to give the Trust more publicity, as he frequently did.

In the background, the wall behind the figures has been partly repaired and a topping put in place along part of it. The plan and paths of the Palm House beds have been revealed and planted. The ‘medieval’ wall is still overgrown with ivy and the balustrading on top of it has not yet been repaired (see PGPT040-2). And of course the resurfacing of the paths is still a long way in the future.

Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
Work on restoring the fountain continued throughout the 1980s. As in PGPT182, the brickwork of the basin is exposed and it has not yet been lined.
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
In the 1980s there was continual work on restoring the fountain which had already become the iconic symbol of the PGPT (see PGPT181/2,184). There are reports in Ex Fonte throughout the 1980s of the progress of the work.
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
The brick construction of the fountain basin (see PGPT182,4) is being relined before filling with water.
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
John Watson, shown here at work on the fountain, became an active member of the PGPT from its early days. He was Chairman 1983-1993 and was made Honorary President in 2003. Bruce Adam (Chairman 2000- 2007) wrote about John in Ex Fonte no.23 2003 and Allan Sewell wrote an obituary in the following issue.
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer (probably John Watson)
These photographs, taken during the restoration of the fountain, give details of its construction and workings which are not usually seen! See Ex Fonte no.12 1991 for John Watson’s description of this structure
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by John Watson, volunteer
In 1980 the remains of this fountain were found on the lawn beside the Plantation house (as in PGPT014) and removed by John Watson for repair. This work has never been completed and to date (2012) what remains is still in store.

There is some mystery about the history of this fountain. It was originally thought (Ex Fonte no.2 1981) that it had stood in the Palm house. However, in G.C.Green’s album of stories about his father, George Green (see PGPT058-063) there is a sketch, clearly recognisable as this fountain, labelled ‘Fountain added to the Plantation by Alderman Geo.Green’. What is more, in the photograph of the interior of the Carrow house conservatory (see PGPT066) the fountain there looks identical to this one. So did George Green buy it from the Colman family, or purchase an identical model?

Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
This is one of the pair of pedestals that stand at the top of the steps of the Italian terrace. It is notable in several ways. Each of the other pedestals that you pass as you ascend the slope has a different design: here the opposing faces of the two pedestals have the same design, of a shield set within a cusped window frame, with the initials HMB above a design of a tasselled rope.

What significance do these initials have for Henry Trevor? H could be for Henry, M for his wife Mary, B, slightly oddly, for her middle name, Beakley. This is probably the interpretation that Henry Trevor wanted his visitors to understand, an interpretation which would have made him smile. For the plaque that we see here was not custom made for Henry Trevor. It must have been a ‘spare’ from another job of Gunton Bros (see PGPT325/6)

GPT289 and PGPT290
Date: 1980s
Source: photographs by volunteers
Seeing these photographs side by side makes it easy to compare the plaque from the Plantation garden (PGPT289) with that from Oxburgh Hall (PGPT290).
The story of these plaques is told in PGPT324-6.
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
The plaque in this photograph looks identical to the one in the Plantation garden as in PGPT324 – and indeed it is from the same mould. But this plaque is to be found at Oxburgh Hall, where Sir Henry Bedingfeld,6th Baronet, and his wife Margaret, embarked in 1830 upon the restoration of the medieval hall. Sir Henry employed as architect John Buckler, an enthusiastic medievalist, and together they carried out an extensive programme of restoring the building and gardens. Designs by Pugin and Crace were used, as well as heraldry and initials to give a sense of period. This decorative plaque (HMB for Henry and Margaret Bedingfeld) is typical of their fashionable ‘medieval’ style.
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
The Victorian walled garden at Oxburgh has castellated towers and gateways in the medieval style, as shown here. An HMB plaque (see PGPT324/5) was built in over the doorway.

Since the moulded bricks and the chimney stacks of the Hall can be identified as Gunton products we can feel sure that this was their source. It was natural that Buckley, the architect (see PGPT325) should employ Gunton Bros because he had already worked on the restoration of Costessey hall in the 1820s, using Gunton bricks then (see PGPT311,315). Henry Trevor may well have bought a ‘spare’ from Guntons’ yard after Sir Henry’s death in 1862.

Date: 1981
Source: photograph by volunteer
Editions of Ex Fonte from 1981 onward report on the progress of excavating foundations, drains, paths and beds in the Palm House. Today the outlines are marked by flower beds with attractive planting schemes devised by Marj Wilson (see PGPT097 and History and Guide 2009 p31).
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
An unknown event was taking place to display what improvements have been made: the balustrading of the Italian terrace has been repaired and a lot of the ivy which had covered the whole structure in 1980 has been removed, revealing the fancy brickwork underneath. Urns have been placed on pedestals and planted. The lawn has been cleared and reseeded and even mowed to give stripes!

However, much work remains to be done – the west bank is tumbledown, like the rockworks on the bottom left, the lower path is rough and the middle path on the left has hardly been cleared. And why the cavities on the lawn?

Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by volunteer
The sycamores, ivies etc have been removed, the brickwork in the basin looks trim, and the contrast with PGPT181 shows how much work has been done.
PGPT035, 036
Date 035 early summer 1986, 036 1985
Source Photographs taken by volunteers in the PG archive
In 1980 when the work of restoration began the lawn area was a mass of self sown grasses, saplings etc. (cf) When work began on the lawn, a decision was taken to use traditional methods, and so the painstaking work of levelling the ground before sowing one section at a time was undertaken, as these photographs show. At this stage there was no attempt to reinstate the flower beds either down the centre or along the West side.
PGPT206 and 207
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph by courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press
From early days the committee aimed at providing enjoyment and social occasions for volunteers and their families. John Watson (see PGPT192) loved to dress up in his top hat and frock coat, so fancy dress was often the order of the day! Bryony Nierop-Reading, Secretary for many years, can just be seen in the back row behind the bowler hat. Marj Wilson, later to become Head Gardener, can be seen 4th on the right, front row, and her 3 sons sit at the front. The EDP had been persuaded to give publicity to the event.
Date: 1980s
Source: photograph in PGPT archive
The Plantation garden was built in a quarry, where chalk extraction had succeeded or accompanied mining for flints. These are examples of the fresh flints which can emerge when the soil is penetrated to any depth.

Flints were used extensively in building the garden, both as uncut pebbles (see PGPT148) and cut or knapped. Some particularly large flints were used in the arched buttresses of the fountain (see PGPT089). Many of the medieval churches in Norwich were built from flints and many of those flints may have been obtained by tunnelling in the area around the Earlham Rd. These tunnels have been explored from the 19c (see…… ) .

Date 1985
Source Photograph taken by volunteer in PG archive
The Italian balustrade is shown here after some work has been done: Much of the ivy covering has been stripped away, and most of the balustrade has been restored. It can be seen that the lawn area is unkempt and full of weeds.
Date 1980s
Source Photograph taken by volunteer in PG archive
It can be seen that the fountain wall has been repaired, as has the wall alongside. The fountain wall is built with flints, the side wall with a mixture of flints,plain bricks, and ‘fancy’ Gunton bricks in red and white patterns. The fountain basin has not yet been filled with water.
Date 1989
Source Photgraph taken by volunteer in PG archive
The Plantation house, built by Henry Trevor in 1856. In the early 1980s it became part of ‘The Beeches’ hotel.
In this photograph the balustrade along the top of the retaining wall has not yet been restored.
PGPT040, 041, 042
Date 1989
Source Photograph taken by volunteer in PG archive
There was co-operation between the hotelier and the PGPT to restore the balustrade above the retaining wall in front of the hotel.
PGPT043 and 044
Date 1980s
Source Photograph by volunteer in PG archive
A theory was taken up by some of the volunteers which maintained that much terracotta in the 19c had been limewashed to imitate stone. This theory was acted on in the area at the bottom of the steps down to the lawn from the Palm house terrace. Here we can see some of the several plaques which have a design of a barrel and fruit being limewashed by volunteers.
Fortunately the popularity of this idea was short lived.
Date: 1980s(?)
Source: photograph by volunteer
This appears to show preparations for an event such as the one shown on the back cover of Ex Fonte no.5 1984 or no.9 1988 when a party was held with members dressed in Victorian costume.
Date: March 3 1988
Source: photograph by volunteer Bruce Adam
This photograph was taken soon after a bus travelling along the Earlham Rd towards the city suddenly slipped into a hole! It happened just opposite the entrance to the Plantation garden – and by coincidence the house in the background is the house which Henry Trevor rented before he built the Plantation house! The hole, of course, was created when the roof of a tunnel below the road (see PGPT346) fell in.

Fortunately no one was hurt, but afterwards much work was done to fill in the tunnels. Full reports appeared in the local daily and evening papers of March 4 and 5.

Date: c1989
Source: photograph by volunteer
This photograph shows work in progress. The eastern section of the balustrade has been restored, the western has yet to be tackled. There are no urns on the upper pedestals and the summerhouse lies in the future.

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