Friday, 18 April 2014

Castle Gardens

I'll be honest - I never thought the Castle gardens were anything special.
However, experts have been having a look at them, and they have apparently got quite excited. It is, after all, unusual for a mid-seventeenth century garden to survive pretty much intact and unchanged. That's the terraces with the evergreen trees on the Castle Street side of the Castle.
On the other side, the lawn was laid out in the Regency period, so the Castle has two pretty much intact historic gardens of different periods. This is sufficiently interesting for Sir Roy Strong to agree to be the Patron of the new gardens committee. He is, of course, a garden expert, and lives quite locally in Herefordshire. The Castle Trust are hoping to restore the gardens - they're looking for garden designers to submit tenders - so that they can be fully opened to the public.

Even in their unrestored state, the gardens are being well used. Just before the Spring Fair, which made full use of the Regency lawn, Clifford School had an Easter Egg hunt around the grounds, and made about £500 for the school funds! Part of this came from the teas table, where they asked for donations rather than having a set price for everything.

And one of my favourite modern sculptors, Sally Matthews, has been commissioned to build a site specific piece to go in the derelict part of the Castle. She's going to make wolves, and they should be ready in time for the Festival. A couple of years ago, one of her horses was placed just outside the Castle gates for the Festival.

I first came across Sally Matthews' work back when the Globe Gallery was first converted into an art gallery. We had gone to see the exhibition and entered through the lower doorway. As we climbed the narrow stairs to the main floor, I said: "What are Jenny's deerhounds doing in here?.... Hang on, they're not moving...." Sally Matthews had sculpted a group of deerhounds, and she had based them on Jenny's, which are often seen being taken for walks around Hay.

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