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From the late 1990s the garden began to suffer from petty vandalism. The Summer House in particular became a target resulting in it being boarded up in 2003.


The theft of original York stone paving on Christmas Eve 2005 was the final straw. The council made the difficult decision to close off the Sunken Garden to the public and set about an action plan on how to raise funds to bring the garden back to life.

The Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery Fund ‘Parks for People’ programme was seen as the best opportunity to obtain funding to restore the garden.


A Stage 1 application was submitted in November 2006 and a Stage 2 application followed which involved an in-depth consultation with more than 400 people, historical research, including visits to the Mawson archive in the Lake District (as there are no original drawings for the garden), advice from heritage consultants and planning permission, due to the Listed Building status.


In May 2008, the council heard the great news that the full funding had been awarded totalling £1.5 million. Then the hard work began!

Land Use Consultants were successfully awarded the contract for professional services and were tasked with drawing up detailed drawings and a tender package to appoint a contractor to carry out the restoration work. Crispin & Borst (Vinci) was awarded the contract and work began on site in August 2009.

During the coldest and wettest winter in decades, the contractors worked tirelessly to restore every detail of the garden. The first stage involved stripping the garden back to the bare bones. This seems rather drastic but was the only way to piece the garden back together.

Here is an indication of the scale of the project:

- 375 cubic metres of topsoil and similar amount of crushed stone; blocks of tufa rock for the fountain from Bavaria;

- 40 palettes of special hand-made bricks; tailor made steel to support boundary walls

- over 200 lorry loads of materials delivered and removed.


All while the teams of bricklayers, carpenters and sheet metalworkers, to name just a few of the multi- skilled craftsmen employed on the site, worked together in a tightly controlled space.


The garden was officially re-opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Countess of Verulam on 23 July 2010.


Thank you to the following consultants for helping make this project a reality:

Barker & Associates, Bushey Museum, ENG Design, Kate Harwood, Heritage Cost Consultants, Land Use Consultants, Liz Lake Associates, Rees Bolter Architects, Liz Simpson, Veolia Water and Janet Waymark and Crispin & Borst and their team at Vinci Construction.

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