Bryony Nierop-Reading is credited with first raising awareness that a forgotten garden existed in the old quarry on Earlham Road in Norwich.
She organised the first meeting, in Norwich City Library, of people who would be interested in starting the restoration of the Plantation Garden.
These pictures of the fountain illustrate the extent to which the garden had become overgrown and the task facing the early volunteers.
1818 In 1856, a prosperous upholsterer and cabinet maker living in Norwich, took a long lease on an industrial site just outside the old City walls. His name was Henry Trevor, and for the next forty years, he spent considerable sums of money and much effort transforming a chalk quarry into a magical garden.
In many ways, Henry Trevor’s garden was typical of Victorian taste and technology. He built a fountain, terraces with balustrades, rockworks, a Palm House, and a rustic bridge.
He planted elaborate carpet beds, woodlands and shrubberies. He designed serpentine paths to conduct the visitor along circular routes, and he built and heated several greenhouses with boilers and hot water pipes.
Henry Trevor, however, was also a man of strong personal tastes. His “Gothic” fountain is unique, and he displayed great enterprise in using the fancy bricks from a local manufacturer to create medieval style walls, ruins and follies. Within less than 3 acres, he established a gentleman’s residence and garden that reflected in miniature the grand country houses of the Victorian period. Visitors were frequently welcomed in the garden by Henry Trevor, for he was always ready to allow his garden to be used for charitable causes.
Following Henry’s death in 1897 the house passed through the hands of various tenants and owners and the garden became neglected and then lost from sight and memory.
The Plantation Garden Preservation Trust (PGPT) is a registered charity (no. 1165433) and was formed in 1980.
Since then, almost all of the work involved in maintaining and developing this Grade II registered site has been carried out by enthusiastic volunteers. This includes the gardening itself, fundraising activities, publicity and the organisation of an extensive programme of community activities and entertainments.
Individual helpers contribute according to their own interests and availabilities. Some people give many hours on a regular basis, while others are happier helping at particular events, or baking cakes for the Sunday refreshment stand. All are equally valued as without the combined effort of everyone the Garden would not be what it is today. New offers of help are warmly appreciated.
Overall management is also by volunteers, and the Management Committee, which is responsible for the day-to-day business of running the Trust, is elected annually by the 700-strong membership. New talent is always welcome here too!
The Garden receives no regular funding from outside sources and meets its annual costs largely from membership fees, entry fees, sales of refreshments and merchandise, and income from special events. From time to time we are indebted to grants from small local charities and generous private donations (including bequests) which help us to undertake particularly costly repairs or much-needed improvements.
The work of the Trust has attracted the endorsement of highly respected figures in the world of gardening, and at present we are pleased to have as our patrons Sir Roy Strong, former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum; and Tom Williamson, Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia, and one of the UK’s leading writers on landscape archaeology, agricultural history and the history of landscape design.