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Thursday, February 4, 1999 Published at 12:22 GMT


Garden for the 21st century

Design vision: "A European garden relevant to all ages"

By BBC North correspondent John Thorne

Plans for a 15m European garden in the grounds of the magnificent border fortress of Alnwick Castle have been revealed by the Duchess of Northumberland.

[ image: Search for a sponsor on the Web]
Search for a sponsor on the Web
A Website has also been designed in an appeal for an international sponsor for the scheme - billed as the biggest garden project of the century in the UK.

Despite initial opposition from heritage experts, the derelict, walled castle gardens are to be revived to a design by two Belgian architects. A pavilion and spectacular waterworks of cascades and fountains, never seen before in Britain, are included in the plans.

The Duchess, Jane Northumberland, said: "Using the talent, expertise and technology of our time, I hope to create a place of beauty and learning which will be relevant to future generations. It will not be a slavish recreation of the past, but a garden for the 21st century."

[ image: The Duchess of Northumberland:
The Duchess of Northumberland: "I hope to create a place of beauty and learning"
The Prince of Wales is patron of the project, which should be completed by the year 2001, creating at least 30 permanent jobs.

The project manager, Ian August says the new garden, hidden behind the original high Victorian walls, will take advantage of the physical beauty of the countryside.

"In the last century the garden produced flowers, exotic fruit and vegetable for the duke's table; it was a vegetable garden again during the war, and a planting area for young trees needed across the estate. Now it's going to be a classical but modern garden again, truly a European garden relevant to all ages."

[ image: Alnwick Castle: Formerly landscaped by Capability Brown]
Alnwick Castle: Formerly landscaped by Capability Brown
Alnwick Castle, the Windsor of the North, has been the ancestral home of the Percy family since the14th century. It was extensively restored in the 19th century and the new garden is being designed to fit into its riverside setting which was landscaped last century by Capability Brown.

The Northumberlands, who own 120,000 acres in this border county, have already invested 700,000 in the planning stages of the project.

Now they need an outside commercial sponsor, probably from the United States, to fund the construction.

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