(Above, left to right): Wesley Kerr, HLF; Cllr Liz Webster, Chairman of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority; Brigadier Andrew Parker-Bowles; Bryan Hewitt, Senior Gardener at Myddelton House
A two-year project to transform Enfield’s Myddelton House Gardens into a hub of Victorian education and training programmes and create a heritage centre at the Lee Valley grounds has won £487,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Bull’s Cross gardens, created by Edward Bowles, one of the most inventive English botanical masterminds of the early 19th and late 20th centuries, will undergo widespread restoration works, including the first opening of the Victorian Kitchen Garden and the creation of a café in the Grade II-listed Staples Block.
Bryan Hewitt, Bowles’ biographer and Senior Gardener at Myddelton House, said the award was “a renaissance” for the Gardens, which will be opened to the public free of charge. “I have worked in the garden for 25 years and it was all but derelict and forgotten until Lee Valley Regional Park Authority began a restoration programme in 1984,” he recalled.
“We will be restoring historically significant monuments such as the Enfield Market Cross and other garden ornaments cherished by Mr Bowles. The Victorian Kitchen Garden will once again be up and running and the long-neglected Boiler Room that Mr Bowles’ father used to heat his glass houses from 1859 will be restored for use as a potting shed.”
Bowles was born at Myddelton House in 1865, prolifically breeding plants – more than 40 varieties named after him are still available in the Royal Horticultural Society – in grounds he once described as “the driest and hungriest in Great Britain.”
The gardens contain the national collection of the Bearded Iris, and part of the site will be set aside as a wildlife area, with plans to use the buildings for bat roosts.
Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London, said: “All great gardens carry the imprint and character of their creator. Even though Edward Bowles died half a century ago, the broad outlines and some of the plants from one of London’s most poetic horticultural plantations remain at Myddelton House in a remarkably peaceful and evocative setting.
“It's a great addition to the £95 million we have already invested in London's parks and gardens, and will help make North Enfield a fine heritage destination.”