These 10 acre walled gardens (listed Grade II*) are a rare example of formal English garden design.
They are being restored* as near as possible to the period 1680 to 1762 when the Bridgeman family moved to Weston Park. The house was built in 1599 by Sir Edward Devereux and extended by Sir John Bridgeman I about 100 years later.
The Gardens were developed by several generations of the Bridgeman Family (later to become the Earls of Bradford) reaching peaks of excellence around 1760 and 1900. The Gardens fell into decline during the middle part of the twentieth century until they were rescued by the Trust in 1985.
The Holly Maze is a distorted mirror image of the one at Hampton Court Palace designed by George London and Henry Wise.
* The Restoration is now almost complete.
The Volunteers and Staff
Looking after the Gardens, running the cafe and shop, putting on the events, marketing, tour guiding, governing and all the other things that are needed to keep a Charitable business going, is largely carried out by volunteers.
Simon Cleaver ~ Co-opted and is Chair of the Trust and the Management Committee
Richard Easton FCA ~ Co-opted
The Earl of Bradford ~ a Founder member Trustee
Cllr. Pauline S Allen ~ Appointed by Castle Bromwich Parish Council
William A. Esslemont ~ Elected by members of the Trust and a member of the Management & Gardens Committees
M Elizabeth Hatchman ~ Appointed by the National Trust
Yvonne M. High ~ Co-opted and a member of the Management Committee
Marian E. Morris ~ Elected by members of the Trust and a member of the Management & Gardens Committees
Cllr George E. Richards ~ Appointed by Solihull MBC
Cllr. Michael Robinson ~ Appointed by Solihull MBC
Mark Rickus ~ Appointed by St. Mary & St. Margaret’s Church
Martin Mizon-Hind ~ Elected by members of the Trust
Cllr. Diane Donaldson ~ Appointed by Birmingham City Council
Cllr. John Cotton ~ Appointed by Birmingham City Council
The Trust’s Paid Staff
Glynis Powell ~ General Manager
Sue Brain ~ Administrator
Ann Brookman ~ Education Officer
Elaine O’Connell ~ Visitor Centre Supervisor
Gordon Sammons ~ Senior Gardener
Other Committee Members (voluntary)
Neil Cook ~ Representing the National Trust on the Gardens Committee
Dave Bennett ~ Co-opted Member of the Gardens Committee
Patrick Swan ~ Co-opted Member of the Gardens Committee
The Management Committee is concerned, through the general manager and staff, with the detailed management of the gardens. It implements the policies set out by the Trustees and organizes any special events and functions. It meets about ten times a year.
The Gardens Committee provides advice and guidance to both the Trustees and Management Committee on horticultural and the historical matters concerning the maintenance and restoration of the gardens. It meets formally about four times a year, but members are often consulted between meetings on specific matters.
The Gardens were re-discovered in 1983 by West Midlands County Council planning inspectors. As soon as their importance was realized it was decided that restoration was essential and work started to clear the undergrowth and repair the vandal damage to the infrastructure.
A Trust was formed in 1985 by the West Midlands County Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Birmingham City Council, Castle Bromwich Parish Council, Castle Bromwich Parochial Church Council, Bovis Homes Ltd, The National Trust and Lord Bradford. For many years these were the only members of the Trust. These members appointed Trustees who in turn co-opted other Trustees for the skills the Trust needed.
Lord Bradford gifted 7.44 acres of the gardens to the west of the Middle Terrace walk together with the entrance drive and car park. All the estate to the east of the Middle Terrace was already in the ownership of Bovis Homes who allowed the Trust access under licence to some 1.84 acres of the gardens which lie between the Hall and the Middle Terrace.
The 38 acres (12.34 hectares) of Parkland lying to the north and west of the Gardens was purchased by Birmingham City Council. Part of this is a site of special interest and known as the Castle Bromwich Wetland. Currently this area, although protected, is managed minimally by the Council. Nevertheless, Habitat Biodiversity Audits have been undertaken (2013) and we work actively with other groups, including Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, to support Hedgehog and other surveys in the area. The combination of cultivated and less cultivated areas in close proximity make this area a real haven for all kinds of wildlife.
It is the Trust’s policy to restore the gardens as near as possible to the period 1680 – 1740* (see below) and distinguish between restoration and recreation. The Trust attempts to only use plants that were available to the gardeners of England by 1740*. Henry Beighton’s South Prospect of the Hall and Gardens, drawn in 1726, forms an important reference.
The Trust has finished most of the restoration work in the gardens in its ownership and now also works with the owners of the other parts of the walled garden to ensure a continuity of plantation. Over time, as the Hall’s ownership and economic fortunes of some of the founding Trustees changed, the Trust in 2008 voted to extend the Trust to open membership to members. Today any Adult can become become a member of the Gardens and the Trust.
For more details about Trust membership see the next tab.
*To meet the objectives of the Trust, the Gardens have been restored on the basis of archival evidence and contemporary practice, as near as possible to the period 1680-1762, but with some later additions.
Wherever possible the Trust will only use plants that were available to the gardeners of England by 1762 and with a emphasis on species known to have been grown in the gardens at Castle Bromwich Hall.
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 21st September 2016 can be downloaded here.
Joining the Gardens and becoming a member makes sense
Our visitors use the Gardens in a myriad of ways.
To walk the dog, have a moment of calm, have a picnic under the blossoms with friends, to get close up to tadpoles, build a den or watch the flowers grow.
We are an independent charitable trust and love to keep the prices low, so we can share the gardens with as many people as possible.
By becoming a Member, you get repeated access to the Gardens at a bargain price and you are helping the Trust to care for these important and wonderful Gardens. Memberships, and donations, all contribute directly to the provision of equipment, plants, events and amenities for the Gardens and visitors. It all helps us to invest in the future.
What do you get for membership?
- Free year round entry (when open) to the Gardens, except for Special Events.
- Free entry to two Special Events (as marked on event publicity).
- Discounted entry on many other Special Events.
- Members Spring and Autumn Newsletters (by email. One annual newsletter by post on request.)
Membership Rates for 2017 (January – December)
Joint: £30 (2 adults at the same address)
Joint Life: £285 (2 adults at the same address)
You can upgrade your membership to Life membership at any point in the year
Membership Options for Families
We run a packed programme of family oriented events and activities throughout the year. With over 40 sessions of drop-in craft, creative and garden activities in school holidays as well as trails and self-led activities at other times.
1. Ordinary Family Membership
Entry to the Gardens only. Participation in structured activities is not included. Activities would be charged for on entry. This membership may be ideal for adults who make only occasional visits with under 16 year’s olds.
£35: 2 named adults + 2 children under 16
Same conditions apply as individual and joint membership.
2. Family Activities Annual Pass
Free entry to the Gardens all year PLUS free access to over 40 activity sessions for up to 5 people. This membership is ideal for families who like to take part in craft and activity sessions on a couple of, or more, occasions.
£40: Up to 5 people, over 5 years old (max. 2 adults).
Conditions apply as above
How to Join
Very shortly you can join online with a credit card (coming very soon), or by cheque or cash by post or in person.