Aerial photo of entire siteHill Close Gardens
Welcome, to Hill Close Gardens
Hill Close Gardens are a unique set of Victorian detached gardens once common on the edges of towns, cities and villages. They were used by merchants who lived above their businesses in the crowded market centres. Goods were moved around the country by a very good 'albeit slow' canal network.
What is a Detached Garden?
The idea of 'detached' gardens came to the UK via the Victorian plant hunters who were collecting specimens for the horticultural colleges and noticed how European towns and cities had small gardens that were used not only for growing produce but were also used for enjoyment. Similar gardens can be found further afield in Japan and China.
In Germany a good example would be Schrebergärten. These gardens can be found on the edges of cities and are used to grow produce. They tend to have a shelter, wood burner and can be used to sleep in. They can be used used by city workers as a place to commute to work during the week before returning to their main homes further afield.
Arial view of plot 24Hill Close Gardens
In the UK, the Victorians christened them 'Leisure Gardens' and they proved very popular as a place to make 'your own' and enjoy. You can see the differences on the style of summerhouses - some had basements and other octagonal roofs, all expressing a personality of their own
Here at Hill Close Gardens the Summerhouses are all slightly different in style, this reflecting the different styles of preference. But again showing the Victorians like of 'one-upmanship' was at play.
The plots may look rather like allotments, but they are very different. Victorian owners and their families wanted to use their gardens for leisure rather than mainly to grow food crops for subsistence.
Metals cogsHill Close Gardens
While having areas for fruit and vegetables, they also laid out lawns and flower beds for enjoyment and relaxation. The high quality of the brick built summerhouses, and the formal layout of the tile-edged paths, were very different from basic allotments.
There have always been allotments here in the UK but these gardens were larger and set for ornamental planting and were a great way to 'keep up with the Jones's'. They were quite expensive to rent and were a bit of a status symbol.
This was at a time when houses tended not to have their own gardens. It was also before the ramblers rights (1960's). We take it for granted that we can wander through lovely public rights of way over the countryside but it was a different back then.
In the 1950's and 1960's some of the plots were in a bad way and many had been abandoned altogether, so a working party was set up to save the gardens...