New lease of life for hidden pool found in Shropshire walled garden

One of two dipping ponds in a walled garden has been exposed for the first time in 60 years.

The ponds at Apley Walled Garden, at Norton, are so called because gardeners would dip their watering cans into them.

The pair of dipping ponds gradually fell out of use as gardeners began to rely more on piped water.

But current gardeners began a project to get them back into use.

Phil Allen was appointed head gardener of Apley Walled Garden in February 2013 when the project began.

He said: “It was more important to get the garden back into production than restore the infrastructure, though of course that happens anyway.

“I couldn’t continue to walk the path over where I knew the dipping pond lay without one day trying to find it.

“We are all thrilled to have found it in such good condition.”

Michael Coombes, 85, of Bridgnorth, moved to the garden aged three when his father was appointed by AW Foster of Apley Hall, as head gardener. He helped the workers to locate the pond.

Exposing the dipping pond began with a digger but had to be painstakingly finished by hand.

He said: “We moved from Chatsworth and I spent hours in the garden, watching and recording the insect life on the dipping ponds.“

Lady Harriet Hamilton, from the Apley Estate, added: “Michael very accurately remembers incredible detail and sure enough we found the steps down into this dipping pond, exactly where he said they were.

“This is a great moment in the recent timeline of the garden. “

The garden is now the chef’s pantry for a few local restaurants, including Apley Farm Shop’s Creamery Café.

It is only possible to visit the garden by prior appointment. Private tours are for groups of 10 or more.

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