Secret gardens of Kent - Rochester's Restoration House
|Restoration House is within the old city walls of Rochester|
Restoration House in Rochester is one of Kent's best-kept garden secrets! It was built in 1587 - a handsome brick house at the heart of this thriving cathedral city - and it's said that Charles II stayed here on 28th May 1660 at his Restoration. Hence the name. But for garden lovers this is a hidden gem waiting to be explored, along with the rest of the city. Privately owned and maintained, the garden has been open to the public since 2000 and extends to just under an acre.
|The pond is based on the design of a Queen Anne Mirror|
Restoration House is famous not just for its Royalist connections, but was also immortalised by Charles Dickens in "Great Expectations" as the Satis House where Miss Havisham lived. Little history is known about the garden, but it is the current owners who have done most of the work here. They arrived in 1994 and have created not just the magical garden at the rear of the house, but have also rescued an adjacent plot from the clutches of property developers and are planning to extend the garden.
|The elaborate parterre is a replica of a Jacobean door design|
|".... continual entertainment to the eye ..."|
And then there are other innovations like the brick greenhouse, roofed in fishscale glass tiles which are replicas of those discovered at an ancient discovery at Heligan Gardens in Cornwall. Elsewhere there are immaculately clipped hedges and a long border filled with maturing shrubs and wonderful colourful perennials. This is certainly a garden to savour and the more you look, the more detail you will see.
The owners were determined to follow Batty Langley Principles of Gardening 1728 when they embarked on this project: "The end and design of a good garden is to be both profitable and delightful: where should be observed, that its parts should be always presenting new objects, which is a continual entertainment to the eye, and raises a pleasure of imagination".
|Well stocked fruit, vegetable and cutting gardens are a feature here at Restoration House|
In 2007, the site adjacent to Restoration House was stripped in preparation for a housing development, but then a Tudor wall was brought to the notice of English Heritage and Listed Grade II, which halted the development and gave the owners of this property a chance to acquire the site. They plan to develop a further garden here once restoration of the wall has been completed, but to do this they need to raise considerable funds. But this is certainly a project to watch and if the existing garden is anything to go by, I'm sure they'll succeed.
|There's even a mini wildflower meadow here in the garden!|