Abbey walled garden project grand opening

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THE newly replanted Duchess of Cleveland walled garden opens to the public tomorrow (Saturday) at the 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield.

As well as creating a tranquil garden for visitors to enjoy, with fruit trees, wildflowers and bees, the walled garden provides a glimpse into a lesser known time in Battle Abbey’s history - when it was lived in as a country house estate.

The Duchess of Cleveland lived at the Abbey from 1858 and jealously guarded the walled garden as her own private space.

She wrote: “The present orchard…being abandoned to the apple and pear trees, is a white forest of blossom in the spring.

“I have added some mulberries, almonds and standard fig-trees…”

Now, the mid 19th Century layout of the garden has been recreated, the walls have been conserved and new trees have been planted.

Fruit trees and wildflower seeds have been carefully chosen, with locality and heritage of primary importance.

Sixteen apple varieties, including Golden Pippin which originated in Sussex in 1629 and Alfriston, a favourite Victorian exhibition variety, have been planted, as well as cherry, quince, medlar and nine varieties of pear.

Grasses and wildflowers native to the Weald area such as knapweed, yarrow and oxeye daisy have been introduced to enhance the grassland, and spring bulbs have been planted.

Victorian style bee-hives have been installed, with bees being introduced later in the summer to complete the ecosystem of the garden.

Property manager Jo Stewart is currently undergoing training to become an apiarist and will take care of the bees.

Dawn Champion, English Heritage area manager said: “We hope that by reopening the walled garden we have added a new dimension to the visitor experience, to give everyone the opportunity to pause and reflect, and to enjoy Battle Abbey not just for its history, but its beauty and atmosphere as well.”