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Batsford Arboretum archive of documents discovered
Japanese resthouse
The archive includes over 50 original photographs of Batsford

An archive of historical documents and photographs relating to Batsford Arboretum has been discovered.

The haul includes original glass photographic plates, letters and estate records of the Gloucestershire garden.

The items belong to Mrs Frances Toovey, granddaughter of James Gardner who was head gardener at Batsford from 1910 until 1918.

Mrs Toovey, from Cambridgeshire, contacted Batsford staff after realising their significance.

The archive also contains over 50 original photographs dating from 1910 until 1917, articles on Batsford written in the top gardening magazines of the day and even details of the wages paid to Batsford's gardeners during the Edwardian era.

I was amazed when I came across all the old photographs and so much more.
Frances Toovey

Mrs Toovey, a keen gardener herself, said "it was only by chance" that she read an article on Batsford in the Royal Horticultural Society's Journal - The Garden.

The article reminded her that her father "had told me when he was a child he had lived in the gardener's cottage at Batsford".

'Amazed'

"This was because his father (James Gardner) had been head gardener there," she said.

"I knew I had inherited some of my grandfather's things, so I searched them out and started to look through them.

"I was amazed when I came across all the old photographs and so much more."

Jamie Gardner
James Gardner was head gardener from 1910 to 1918

Mrs Toovey made contact with staff at Batsford Arboretum and a meeting was set up, at which she showed the archive to Batsford Director of Operations Stuart Priest and Batsford Foundation Trustee Tony Russell.

"We were astonished to see such a wealth of historical material relating to Batsford", said Stuart Priest.

"It is really exciting and couldn't have come at a more appropriate time, because we are beginning to plan all the interpretation and displays for our new Visitor Centre, which will be opening to the public at Easter."




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