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Heritage Lottery Fund boost for historic garden transformation

Clifton Hill House, which was completed in 1750

29 January 2016

A historic garden in the heart of Clifton has received a £35,000 funding boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to be returned to its former Georgian glory. Clifton Hill House, steeped in history since it was completed in 1750, has been owned by the University of Bristol for more than 100 years.

Restoration of the house won a national award in 2004 and the University now wants the garden of the Palladian-style mansion to reflect its heritage and important place in the history of Clifton.

Volunteers, including award-winning garden designer Nicola Greaves, have been working on the design and enabling works. Work to create the garden itself will now get underway thanks to the funding from HLF.

The project focuses on recreating a garden based on historical layouts so that it will provide a suitable setting for the Georgian mansion house, which is now a hall of residence.

Clifton Hill House was completed in 1750 by the renowned architect Isaac Ware, who designed it for Paul Fisher, a highly successful linen draper, merchant, and ship-owner in Bristol.

Historical records show that Ware was a proponent of the 'landscape garden movement' so the new garden will have a naturalistic feel, with a wildflower meadow and a woodland walk.

Also included in the project is the restoration of one of the ‘turrets’, an intriguing garden folly which is believed to predate the house itself but is currently in disrepair.

Volunteering is very much at the heart of the project, giving local people a chance to come and learn about historical garden restoration, landscaping and horticulture.

The University is also keen to open up the garden for regular tours, to allow the public to witness the change in the garden as the work progresses.

Alan Stealey, Head of External Estates at the University of Bristol, said: "We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. This project provides a focus and tangible resource not only for volunteers to engage with this hidden gem but also, once complete, for members of the public to enjoy. The University is a custodian of Bristol’s heritage and Clifton Hill House has played an architectural and social part in its development."

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: "From the aftermath of the English civil war to the development of Clifton by merchants, exploring the heritage of these gardens can tell us a lot about Bristol’s story. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will equip volunteers with the skills needed to rejuvenate the gardens so that they can be enjoyed and explored by many more people."

More details about volunteering and tours can be found on the University Heritage Volunteering website. If you are interested in volunteering or finding out more, please contact Louise.Hopkins@bristol.ac.uk

Further information

About University Heritage Volunteering

University Heritage Volunteering was set up by the University of Bristol to encourage the public to engage with the historic properties managed by the University.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. More information on the HLF website.