Lost Pleasure Grounds To Open at Walmer Castle

Walmer Castle's historic 'glen' will be accessible for the first time in over 100 years from the end of April. English Heritage has also invited young refugees to special workshops, with a new learning centre the first major building at the castle in 145 years.

Part of Walmer Castle’s gardens, first laid out by William Pitt the Younger and enjoyed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, will soon reopen for the first time in over 100 years.

The former chalk quarry now known as the Glen – created by Pitt and his trailblazing niece Lady Hester Stanhope – could previously only be glimpsed through a dense and tangled tree canopy. Now, following a £2.3m investment including £1.35m from the National Lottery, which has also involved a new collaboration with Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) and includes new education and visitor facilities, people can explore every corner of the castle’s 11 acre historic grounds and discover its lost quarry garden for the first time.

Mark Brent, English Heritage Head Gardener at Walmer Castle, said:

“Walmer Castle & Gardens is one of English Heritage’s hidden gems and this project has really allowed us to do justice to the pleasure grounds beyond the formal gardens.

The Glen in particular was at risk of being permanently lost so we are delighted that we have been able to reclaim it for future generations to explore.”

Supporting the local community

As part of the project at Walmer, English Heritage has created two new horticultural apprenticeships and almost doubled the volunteering opportunities in the historic gardens, reaching a wide range of local community groups. Working in collaboration with Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN), groups of young refugees have been taking part in volunteering workshops and will continue to do so. Staff and volunteers have taken part in special training to help them support the young people through their transition into life in the UK.

Young people supported by KRAN have also been working with Walmer Castle and local artist, Charlotte Chapman, to create a piece of artwork for the wall of Walmer Castle’s newly built Learning Centre. The learning space – by Adam Richards Architects – is the first new substantial building at the castle for 145 years and will give education visitors a base from which to explore the grounds of the castle.

English Heritage has also re-presented the Paddock and surrounding woodland to more closely resemble their historic layout; created a new children’s play trail in collaboration with George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces craftsman William Hardie; added new interpretation telling the stories of Walmer’s gardens; and improved visitor facilities by adding a new Glasshouse café, toilets and better access routes.

English Heritage’s Rediscovering Walmer’s Pleasure Grounds project has been made possible thanks to £1.35m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, made possible with money raised by National Lottery players.

Stuart Hobley, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Area Director, London & South, said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players, the fascinating history of Walmer Castle has quite literally been uncovered for everyone to enjoy! The new learning facilities and collaborations are particularly exciting and provide excellent opportunities for even more people to get involved in the heritage of the castle.”


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