Based in the grounds of a Grade II listed estate, Sudley Walled Garden has been growing for 194 years…
The walled garden sits in the grounds of the Grade II listed Sudley House. The owners, the Holts, were philanthropists with a special interest in education and public health. George and his daughter Emma used their considerable wealth, made from the shipping industry, to benefit many health charities. This was the era before the NHS, when problems with infrastructure and sanitation were commonplace. When Emma Holt died in 1944, she bequeathed Sudley House and Estate, along with the artwork the family had collected, to the people of Liverpool.
In developing ideas for the walled garden, we’re always mindful of the legacy left by the Holt family. The use of the space to encourage wellbeing through gardening and growing food, and to facilitate urban children and adults to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of the natural world feels like a fitting tribute to the wishes of the people who bequeathed this lovely greenspace for the benefit of ordinary people.
The house itself is managed by National Museums Liverpool. The gardens and grounds are the responsibility of Liverpool City Council, assisted by the Friends of Sudley Estate. Growing Sudley have secured a lease and land use agreement on the walled garden and changing rooms area, conditional to establishing a social enterprise for community benefit.
The history of Sudley House is fairly well known and documented, with the exception that the original architect remains unidentified. The gardens however, are more of a mystery. We know that the walled garden was a cutting edge example of its type, with double skin heated walls, glasshouses and a pavilion at one end. We believe it was laid out as pleasure gardens, combining the more attractive fruit and vegetables inter-planted with ornamental plants and flowers. The more mundane vegetable production probably took place in the kitchen gardens on the other side of the wall. That is more or less all that is known about the walled garden, and only one photograph, of a tantalisingly small section of it, has been found so far. Growing Sudley will be applying for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to conduct research into the heritage of the walled garden and changing rooms area.