The Walled Garden Sunbury-on-Thames

The Walled Garden  Sunbury-on-Thames

    Colin Squire OBE DHM President The Rose Society UK

The historic walled garden in Sunbury Park was built in the early part of the 18th Century. Spelthorne Council embarked on a restoration project of the two acre garden, starting in the autumn of 1985.

Trees, shrubs and climbers grow within the ancient walls, up to 8 to 10 ft high in places.

Garden design

History of walled gardens

Walled gardens were a particular feature of the larger Georgian and Victorian Houses. They were used for the growing of high quality fruit and vegetables for the wealthy owner of the house and often included a specialist range of greenhouses for the growing of peaches and grapes.

There are numerous plant families and species.

The knot garden is a style of gardening popular around the 15th and 16th centuries with intricate inter-weaving of dwarf hedges and displays which evidence Italian influences on English gardens at that time. In a similar manner, the French influences around the 17th century can be seen in the parterres, which are areas of geometrically designed flower beds, enclosed by clipped dwarf hedges.

The Victorian rose garden is composed entirely of rose species and varieties which were either introduced or widely planted during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). These roses usually have a shorter flowering period than modern plants, but are renowned for their classic flower form and strong fragrance. Varieties especially worthy of mention are the Bourbon Rose, Souvenir de la Malmaison and the Damask Rose, Marie Louise.

The modern rose garden was originally planted in 1985 with roses donated by Mr D J Squire, of Squire’s Roses, Shepperton. In December 2020 all the original roses were removed in order to replant with a new collection featuring newer, healthier rose varieties. The project was instigated by Mr Colin Squire OBE and sponsored by Squires Garden Centre Group. With the help and guidance of The Rose Society UK, the garden was replanted with bare root roses treated with MycorrMax kindly donated by The Nutrient Company and are now regularly treated with Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic and SB Plant Invigorator in line with the Walled Garden organic growing plan. Rose varieties include many Rose of the Year varieties; a full list of planted varieties are shown below.

Architectural features of local interest and significance are the Lendy Memorial and the ‘portico’ of the now demolished Benwell House.  The Benwell House ‘portico’ was preserved following the demolition of the house in 1984 and now frames the northern gate of the garden.

Natural materials have been used as much as possible. The brick edge paths are surfaced with ‘Breedon gravel’, quarried in Derbyshire and the rockery stones are from Westmorland, Kent and the West Country.

Since its establishment, the garden has become a popular venue for exhibitions and band concerts. It is also used for the annual Sunbury Fayre in early July. Toilets are provided close by and a wheelchair can be borrowed if needed.

History of Sunbury Park

It is known that a Tudor Manor House was built on the site for a courtier of Elizabeth I by the name Yetsweirt and there is a drawing in Colin Campbell’s ‘Vitruvius Britannicus’ showing the housing in Sunbury Park in 1714. In 1851 the Arden family acquired the site and built a large double winged house, which became dilapidated during World War II and was pulled down in 1946. Part of the site of the house can be seen in the wild garden to the west of the car park. In 1975, Sunbury Park was bought from private ownership by Surrey County Council and was subsequently leased to Spelthorne Council.

The Lendy Memorial makes an impressive centre piece. The Lendy Memorial is a re-creation of structure which until destroyed during World War II, stood on the riverside in Sunbury.