Before the growth of international trade and modern food preservation techniques
a walled kitchen garden was a feature of most large country estates in Britain, designed
to provide a continual supply of fruit, flowers and vegetables.
A garden of one acre was expected to provide for the needs of twelve people and would
have required two or three gardeners to maintain it.
The kitchen garden would be carefully sited, taking into account the need for fertile,
well-drained soil. Often a little way from the main house in its landscaped park
setting, screening was also important – not only to provide shelter from the worst
of the weather, but to conceal the “working” garden from view of the gentry.
The importance of such gardens would have reduced in the 20th Century, brought about
by a shortage of labour as a result of two World Wars, and the growth in availability
of imported and preserved food.
The Walled Garden at Upton lies to the south of the main house, adjoining the old
stable block - now the Heritage Centre - and was included in the original 55 acres
of land gifted to the Borough of Poole by the Llewellin family in 1957.
Relatively little information is available on previous features of the garden. The
earliest detailed Ordnance Survey map records a water storage tank in a location
subsequently marked as a pond. The collection and storage of rain water would have
been an important function of gardening in an era that pre-dated a mains water supply.
Llewellin family photographs, possibly from the 1930s or 40s, reveal a fountain and
suggest an ornamental garden, but give little detail. It’s possible that the fountain
was created on the site of the water storage tank.
The 1950s O.S. map also shows a rectangular network of perimeter and central paths,
but an earlier sale catalogue (1899) shows an additional path running roughly north-south,
effectively dividing the garden into four equal quarters.
There have been two Walled Garden projects in the past 30 years:
The Friends project to safeguard the future of the Walled Garden 1978 - 1979
The Walled Garden is one of the key features of the original landscape of Poole’s
only Country Park, and an important element in the ongoing programme of the Park’s
The Friends started with very little money, yet undertook a large project by linking
with the Manpower Commission. We took three bricklayers off the unemployment register,
employing them for 9 months, at a cost to the Friends of just £300!
It started in November 1977, when the idea was put to us by the Manpower Commission.
They would pay for wages, scaffolding, etc, and we would pay for sand and cement.
The Society of Poole Men found a Clerk of Works in Eric Norton-Jones, to oversee
the day-to-day work, and report back.
Thus the work was undertaken during 1978, and included taking down the top three
rows of bricks, re-laying them, cleaning and repointing the whole wall inside and
out, including the turrets at the southern corners. Friends Chairman Bill Rigler
and his team rebuilt the roofs of the turrets with their intricate joinery, covered
in slates. This lasted through the snowy winter.
The Manpower Commission paid for approximately £10,000 worth of work and materials.
The Friends then decided to hang gates, one set being a memorial to Insurance Broker
W.H.Foot. Others incorporated Poole’s dolphin motif.
The project was completed by March 1979, and a handing over ceremony was arranged
for 7th May. The Mayor of Poole was invited and Major Graham Yeatman performed the
handing over on behalf of the Friends.
We organised a bit of a show and invited the public to share in the day. Bob Arnold
lent us a selection of farm carts, implements, and things of the past, as well as
a milk float with pneumatic tyres as pulled by a horse, and an even older cart with
a couple of highly polished churns and measures, both pint and quart. Everyone loved
the "surrey with the fringe on top". Talbot School band played on the lawn and South
Road School danced around their Maypole on the Ha Ha.
The House was brought into use whilst daylight lasted (there was no electrical supply
at that time) and the Mayor took tea in the Drawing Room, with chairs and tables
borrowed from Hamworthy Liberal Hall. All washing up had to be done off premises.
The Parks Department supplied flowers in the fireplace.
As a result of great teamwork, this event enthused enough people to say "lets do
something again at the August Bank Holiday." So started a twice yearly Country Fayre.
Over time, the May Fayre gave way to Craft Shows when the House was opened to the
public, but not before we had some disastrous May events with cars stuck in mud in
Pennington's field requiring a tractor to be on hand to pull them out.
Once opened to the public the Walled Garden proved a popular venue for a number of
events, including outdoor picnic concerts and weddings. The Friends group held an
Annual Plant Fair within its walls (we still do) and for several years the Education
Resource Centre and Kingston Maurward College used the garden as a training facility.
A second major refurbishment project 2006 - 2013
The Friends still held a long-term ambition to restore the Walled Garden to its former
glory and a comprehensive public consultation exercise was undertaken as part of
the development of the 1999 Upton Country Park Management Plan which included a proposal
that the garden be used for ‘… the development of a high quality horticultural attraction’.
Of the 356 consultees that commented on the proposal 83% approved of it.
It wasn’t until 2006 however that the Council commissioned a Landscape Architect
to “reinstate or reinterpret” the garden’s historic landscape design, and to extend
the existing opportunities for educational use and community involvement.
Detailed proposals were drawn up for a comprehensive scheme to include footpaths,
a pond and fountain, a terrace outside the Tea Rooms, a glasshouse, irrigation system,
lighting and planting of beds, lawn and trees. A funding bid made to the Heritage
Lottery Fund failed, however, and the design had to be reconsidered.
Finally, in 2012 a smaller-scale £180,000 project was undertaken by the council’s
Environmental Development Team, towards which the Friends contributed a total of
Improved access to / from the Tea Rooms by opening up and widening the existing doorway
A patio in front of the new doorway using clay brick pavers and low walls, with two
steps and wheelchair access ramp to the side
A footpath around the garden with brick edgings and seating bays
A water feature - automated or self-activated fountains that can be shut off to create
a flat (dry) area when necessary for events
New pedestrian entrances using Purbeck stone setts
A new vehicle entrance from Cooper's Yard
Refurbishment of the turreted seating areas - false ceilings to be removed and repairs
carried out to the structure and roof tiles
Planting of four new corner beds, with wider beds around the footpaths - some 3,000
new shrubs and plants put in the ground!
Improvements to infrastructure, including electricity points, water stand pipes for
events & irrigation and new drainage.