Bushy Park lies to the north of Hampton Court Palace and is home to the newly restored Water Gardens. The Baroque-style garden of pools, cascades, basins and a canal originally extended almost 1km across the northern part of the park.
They were built in the early 1700's for Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax who was a politician and writer. He lived at the Upper Lodge in the park and was keeper from 1709 to 1715. He also created the joint stock company that became the Bank of England.
To supply the gardens with water, he diverted the Longford River, an artificial waterway created for King Charles l, to bring water from the River Colne to Hampton Court. It was originally built as a private recreational garden.
In 1729, the garden designer, Stephen Switzer, wrote: “Without doubt, one of the best works of that kind in England, and perhaps as good as any else where.” When the Crown Estate took over the site in the 1990's it was in a state of disrepair.
In the past, the Water Gardens and Upper Lodge have been used as a hospital for Canadian troops in WW1, swimming pools for East End schoolboys with respiratory diseases, US army barracks in WWII and as an MOD missile and submarine test site in the 1950's.
In September 2006, The Royal Parks were given responsibility for the Water Gardens and took over the restoration programme which had already been started in 1997 by The Bushy Park Water Gardens Trust. The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded funds for the work.
Archaeologists uncovered and recorded the original structure and the results dictated the design and restoration. As much as possible of the original stonework and bricks were used in the new structure and 1.5 meters of silt was removed from the pond!
The restored Water Gardens opened to the public for the very first time in October 2009. From 10 November the Water Gardens will be open Tues to Sun. Bank Holidays excepted. For full details visit www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/bushy_park/
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