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Originally laid out between 1696 and 1705, Westbury Court Garden is one of the only surviving 17th-century Dutch water gardens in the UK.
When we took ownership of Westbury Court Garden in Gloucestershire it was in a state of rack and ruin. It has now been restored to its full glory.
How it all began
The garden was created between 1696 and 1705 by Maynard Colchester I. He designed the Long Canal, Tall Pavilion, circular pond and framework of walls.
Thousands of yew trees and holly bushes were planted, beginning the immaculate pattern of hedges and topiary. The original garden is captured in the famous engraving, pictured above, by Johannes Kip, published circa 1707.
Flowers, fruit and food
The garden was designed to be productive as well as pleasant. Tulips, irises, crocuses and hyacinths were planted alongside vegetables and fruit trees. The canals were stocked with fish for the table, and there was a warren to supply rabbit meat; rabbits still exist on site today in this warren.
In the late 18th century, formal gardens went out of fashion, being replaced by the ‘natural’ landscape gardens, as introduced by Capability Brown. In 1805 The Colchester family demolished their house at Westbury and moved to another residence in the Forest of Dean, but kept the garden maintained in a more low key fashion.
Yet, one hundred years later, the family moved back after building what was to be their last house at Westbury. The water gardens enjoyed a revival, and admiring articles appeared in Country Life in 1903 and 1908.
The brink of destruction
The garden faced destruction in 1960 when developers planned to build houses on it. Fortunately, the local council purchased the garden. We then purchased a portion of the land in 1967, aided by an anonymous donation.
The garden was in a poor state – the canals were silted up and the flower beds needed replanting. The Tall Pavilion had decayed and needed to be completely rebuilt.
The Trust began restoring Westbury Court to its original design, the first major garden renovation project of its kind; it represented a terrific challenge. Thanks to detailed archive material, and the engraving by Johannes Kip, it has been possible to discover how many plants were planted, where they were planted, and how much they cost.
How it looks now
The garden is now restored to how it would have appeared at its best in 1720. Many of the plants are authentic to the period and style of the garden.