A city garden laid out with advice from the architect Edward Boardman between 1857 and the 1890s.
The owners of the freehold land on which the Plantation Garden sits are, and have been since 1613, the Trustees of the Preacher's Money Charity. During the first half of the C19 the site of the Plantation Garden lay in an industrial part of the city of Norwich and comprised a deep treeless pit from which flint and chalk were extracted. In October 1855 Henry Trevor, a successful Norwich businessman, took a seventy-five-year lease on the land and began to build two houses on the level ground beside the pit. The Plantation, which became the family home, was completed in 1857 and The Beeches, which was let, was finished in the 1860s. He began to lay out the gardens for The Plantation within and around the old quarry in 1857, initially to his own designs and later with advice from Edward Boardman. The resulting Italianate/Gothic sunken garden was well known in the city and often opened to the public until Trevor's death in 1897. When the family's lease ran out in the 1920s the house was put to use as a hospital and the gardens were left to decay. For the next sixty years the site was left undisturbed and became completely overgrown. In 1980 the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust was formed and a programme of restoration commenced. The Trust have a lease from the Trustees of the Great Hospital who now administer the Preacher's Money Charity (1999). The Beeches Hotel owns the two houses and part of the Plantation Garden.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
The Plantation Garden lies to the west of centre of the city of Norwich, just outside the A147 inner ring road, situated behind the Roman Catholic cathedral of St John the Baptist on Earlham Road. It is bounded by Earlham Road to the north, the cathedral grounds and Governor's House (part of The Beeches) to the east, private gardens to the south, and Chester Place road to the west. The formal gardens lie in the deep pit formed by former flint and chalk quarrying and are laid out in an oval of c 1ha running north/south. They are surrounded by steeps banks of woodland to west and east.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The Garden is entered from the Earlham Road, through heavy, ornamental wooden gates between white rendered stone piers. The shrubbery-lined drive divides, the western fork leading up to The Beeches Hotel and the eastern fork leading to a small forecourt beside the remains of a mid C19 Gardener's Cottage (mostly demolished in the 1960s). From this forecourt paths lead into the Garden.
The Beeches Hotel, formerly Henry Trevor's residence The Plantation (listed grade II), stands on the high ground to the north-west of the site, facing east over the gardens. It is a symmetrical mid C19 Georgian-style building of yellow brick with a hipped slate roof, built in two storeys by Henry Trevor in 1857. A large extension was added to the rear in the late C19. For much of the C20 it was used as a maternity hospital before being converted to a hotel in 1984.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The path from the Gardener's Cottage leads south into the gardens underneath a rustic wooden bridge (original lost, replica constructed 1988) which links the house on the west bank to the woodland walks on the east bank. This originally connected a serpentine circuit walk of the gardens, all conducted at the upper level. To the west of the lower path, beyond the bridge and c 50m to the south-west of The Plantation, lies a small area of formal planting with gravel paths, on the site of the original Palm House (by the Norwich firm Boulton and Paul, now gone). Steps lead north from this garden up to the rustic bridge, and south down to a lower lawn. It is divided from the house by an elaborate terrace wall known as the 'medieval terrace' constructed of a great variety of materials and heavily decorated with niches, a plaque, a cross, and a coat of arms. The main path continues south to the Fountain, an elaborate gothic stone construction, dated 1857, sitting in a circular lily pond. Beyond the Fountain the path passes a section of rockwork built in a wide range of natural and artificial materials to the east, and the lower lawn to the west. This lawn is cut with alternating circular and rectangular beds filled with formal bedding. At the termination of the formal garden to the south is the Italianate Terrace, a steep rise of ascending slopes and steps, built of flint and stone and richly decorated with bricks, path tiles, pedestals, niches, urns, and balustrading. On reaching the top, the path joins the circular route through the woodland shrubberies surrounding the boundary on the upper level. The gardens are scattered with other items of rockwork and statuary including two pillars that survive from the old propagating house, a gothic church window, and a gothic alcove.
A small area screened by planting on the upper level in the north-east corner of the site was originally used as the productive ground. It is presently (1999) derelict but small sections of frame bases survive.
N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North-east Norfolk and Norwich (1962), p 338
Practical Gardening, (March 1994), pp 49-53
S Adam, The Plantation Garden: a Norwich example of Victorian patronage and eclecticism, (MA dissertation, UEA 1996)
S Adam, The Plantation Garden: a history and guide, guidebook, (1998)
Millard and Manning, Plan of the city of Norwich, 1830 (Norfolk Record Office)
A W Morant, Map of the city of Norwich, 1873 (Norfolk Record Office)
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1883
2nd edition published 1914
3rd edition published 1928
OS 10" to 1 mile city map, published 1884
Description written: August 1999
Amended: October 2000
Register Inspector: EMP
Edited: March 2001