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Garden rooms

Please be our guest and scroll down to explore the various enchanting garden rooms at Bridge End Garden. You can view their locations on our Garden map.

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Welcome to Bridge End Garden, an attractive tranquil place where the visitor can explore a renovated early Victorian garden which extends to about 2.8 hectares (seven acres).


The Gibsons, a local Quaker family, started to set it out from the beginning of the 19th century, but there was never a ‘big house’ with the Garden.  Francis Gibson laid out much of what the visitor can see today around 1840. It is thought he was assisted by award-winning local nurseryman William Chater.

Francis’s daughter Elizabeth inherited the Garden. Elizabeth was married to Lewis Fry of Bristol, and in 1918 the Fry family leased the Garden to the local council. It has been open to the public ever since and was restored between 2003 and 2008.

The Garden has a geometric layout with distinct ‘rooms’, each with its own function, design and landscape character.  These spaces connect to each other, presenting a balanced and peaceful combination.

There’s no right or wrong way to explore the Garden.  Remember, it was a private garden and you are meant to get lost!


Castle Street Path

Through a modest gateway, the Castle Street Path passes the entrance to the Fry Gallery, built by Francis Gibson, and continues through an archway under the former gardener’s cottage. 


To the east is Borough Meadow, once parkland for the Garden and offering the first view of the Garden.  A balustrade runs beside a haha enclosing the Dutch Garden. 


The Garden rises in shallow terraces up the valley side with farmland beyond.  There are remnants of box and yew but this area was left to retain its informal character as a refuge for biodiversity.

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Bridge Street Path

The entrance path from Bridge Street winds through colourful herbaceous borders under an archway of Washington thorn and yellow buckeye.


In spring the area is full of colour from flowering bulbs. Near the junction with Castle Street Path is one of the oldest and largest trees in the Garden, a London plane.

The Dutch Garden

The Dutch Garden is the most ornate of the garden rooms.  Geometric swirls of box and closely clipped yew form a sunken parterre with a central fountain and is best seen from the iron viewing platform or the elevated Pavilion Path. 

The replanting of the parterre was informed by the design sketched by Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) when she visited in 1912. The long border along the balustrade is a vibrant backdrop in summer, fronted by balls of wisteria.  Under this area is a brick culvert over a seasonal stream, the Madgate Slade. It runs from the end of the Wilderness to beyond the London plane on Bridge Street Path. 


In the west corner is the listed Pavilion, overlooking the elevated Pavilion Path with its views across the parterre and over Borough Meadow to St Mary’s Church. Next to the Pavilion is Poet’s Corner, a small intimate space enclosed by yew hedging, with its own parterre.

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The Wilderness

A Victorian ‘wilderness’ was a shady ornamental grove for wandering and reflection. Here ornamental shrubs and trees are underplanted with flowering ground-cover plants and spring-flowering bulbs. The central arch of hoops with trained laburnum is a spectacular sight in spring and leads to a small grotto.


There is an entrance here from the lane leading from Castle Street, with a view of the ‘open’ Madgate Slade and steps up to the Summerhouse Lawn.

The Summerhouse Lawn

The Summerhouse Lawn is enclosed by shrubbery, with the octagonal listed Summerhouse nestling beneath a cedar tree.  It was built around 1840 and is the focal point of this quintessentially English lawn, which is a favourite picnic spot. 

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The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is an early part of the Garden and has been planted with roses appropriate to the Victorian period. Climbers on the arches provide a fragrant white circle that encloses this little horticultural gem. Rose planting undertaken for the Millennium is gradually being replaced by The Friends over a five-year period.

Jacob's Well

West of the Rose Garden is Jacob’s Well, thought to be the original cistern for feeding the fountain in the Dutch Garden.  This is a hot and sunny spot but leads on to cool shade from mature yews.  Look out for the gardener’s seat set into the bank, which always seems to catch the sun.

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The Walled Garden

The Walled Garden has a traditional layout, with four quadrants, tall brick walls on three sides and a yew hedge on the lowest side to let cold air escape.  In the centre is a dipping pond that was used for irrigation. Originally laid out as a kitchen garden, it was restored as a Victorian fruit garden with soft fruits, trained fruit trees and glasshouses.


The paths are lined with espalier fruit trees and the walls display different ways of training apples, pears and plums in a limited space. From the upper path there are attractive views to St Mary’s Church.  Two glasshouses contain a variety of fruit trees in pots.

The Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre and toilets are located just inside the entrance to the Walled Garden near the steps to the Maze. There are two toilets. One is a fully accessible toilet with baby changing facilities.


The Visitor Centre has a comprehensive exhibition about the Garden, its history and the restoration. There are also interactive screens for children to enjoy.  

For more information about opening times for the Visitor Centre click here.


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The Hedge Maze

The Hedge Maze was replanted in 1984 with eleven hundred yew plants and has over 600m of pathways with a viewing platform in the centre. There is also a winding, circular walk around the outside of the Maze.  Records show that the Maze was open early in the twentieth century.  For sixpence (nearly £3 in today’s money) Mr Swan, the head gardener, would unlock the gates and let you in….but you had to find your own way out.

For more information about opening times for the Maze, click here.

Garden room gallery

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