Head to Hill Close Gardens…

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Head to Hill Close Gardens…

Victorian Gardens

Hill Close Gardens were a group of 32 hedged Victorian leisure gardens which were found on the outskirts of many towns in Victorian times.

A town tradesman owned or rented premises and his family lived above the shop.  His backyard was often filled with a workshop, wash-house, privy and stable, leaving no room for a kitchen garden. In 1845, a four-acre site at Hill Close began to be divided into garden plots for Warwick tradesmen. Each garden was enclosed by hedges for privacy, with a door in the hedge leading to a common pathway.  These gardens were very different from allotments.

Hill Close Gardens Apple Day

Gardeners planted apple trees and soft fruit, grew vegetables and flowers and kept pigs, bees and poultry. They built summerhouses of brick or wood in order to shelter from rain or to sit and enjoy the view across the Common. Generally, they also had a lawned area. The plots were as individual as the people who worked them.

Abandoned and derelict

Successful traders started to move out of town around the turn of the century, and some of the gardens were sold off for housing development.  During WW1, many plots became abandoned. The gardens started to become neglected. Some of the plots were used for allotments, market gardens and other trades, and some orchards and pigsties remained in use. Even these were abandoned eventually.

By the early 1990s, most of the hedged gardens had been sold for development, and the remaining sixteen were largely derelict. By then, the gardens were extremely overgrown and derelict, and their summerhouses were in a dilapidated state.

But Warwick District Council had gradually acquired the last sixteen plots by 1993, and had obtained planning permission to build 30 houses on the site. Only two gardeners were still tending plots, surrounded by sites which had been taken over by brambles, weeds and ivy. At this stage, only derelict summerhouses, remnants of hedges, and signs of old fruit trees and roses hinted that the gardens had a much longer and more interesting story to tell than just a bunch of allotments.


The determined opposition of local people saved Hill Close Gardens from destruction. They were rescued, and now are the only restored group of detached Victorian garden plots with public access in the UK.

In the summer of 1993, a bulldozer crashed through the railings around the site and started to take soil borings. It belonged to building contractors who had been planning to buy the site from WDC and put houses on it. Hill Close Gardens were about to disappear forever. Residents of the surrounding area responded quickly. The Lammas and District Residents Association (LADRA) was formed and became a driving force in fighting the housing development and saving the gardens. The council agreed to let English Heritage be the arbiter: if the gardens were decreed to be historically important, they could remain. English Heritage accepted the heritage value of this remarkable survival. Of the hundreds of such sites that had once existed across the country, Hill Close was one of only five now remaining.

Eventually, in August 1994, four of the summerhouses were listed by English Heritage with Grade II* status. In December of the same year, the gardens themselves were placed on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Interest. Because of the national importance of the site, the gardens were saved from housing development.

Interested in visiting with your coach group? Call the Gardens on 01926 493 339 or visit www.hillclosegardens.com



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