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£10k grant to restore historic 'lost gardens' near Chirk

A lottery grant of £10,000 will see work start on the restoration of a once-celebrated 17th century garden.

£10k grant to restore historic 'lost gardens' near Chirk

Whitehurst Gardens, near Chirk, was built in 1651 by Sir Thomas Middleton of Chirk Castle.

But walk past the site today and you would not even know that they existed.

The walled garden near Chirk as it looks today

The ornamental gardens were home to a banqueting house, summerhouse and orangery, deer and fishponds, plus rare and exotic plants such as figs, and even a boathouse. But despite the extensive terracing that still remains on the land there is nothing to show of its history.

During the late 17th century the gardens, which extended to 26 acres, were used to host parties for the great and the good of the time who were travelling along Thomas Telford's Holyhead Road. They were also used to grow food for Chirk Castle.

Even in Victorian days there is evidence that Whitehurst was enjoyed as pleasure gardens.

They eventually fell into decline and by 1931 became part of land used for colliery housing for Black Park, although the walls, terrace and impressively large mount survived.

In 2014 volunteers began work to try to restore some of the gardens, which are grade III-listed because of their historical importance.

Now the members of the Friends of Whitehurst Gardens have been awarded the start-up grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund following an application they made last September.

The grant will fund initial survey work to be carried out on the walled garden, now owned by Wrexham Council's Housing Revenue Account.

David Lock, vice-chairman of the Friends of Whitehurst Gardens and head gardener of Chirk Castle, said photos as recent as the early 1900s show the area still being used as pleasure gardens. Now, the tiered walls and viewing mound are among the few remaining artefactsy.

He said that of particular interest is a triangular lake or canal structure which may have been a prominent feature of the site, but which now lies buried.

"We are delighted and very much excited by the start-up grant. I'd like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for giving us the opportunity to begin our project, and to Wrexham County Borough Council for sending a supporting letter to help us apply for the grant."

Chirk and Wrexham councillor Ian Roberts said Whitehurst Gardens were an important part of Chirk's history.

"They are lost gardens and many people do not even know that they existed or that they had such an interesting history," he said. "This grant will be a start and enable a survey to be carried out. I applaud the Friends of Whitehurst Gardens for getting this far.

"This is very early days and there is a long way to go before the site was restored."

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