We’re restoring the historic core of the park. As well as improving the setting of the mansions, we’re conserving the garden buildings and reintroducing historic planting. At the same time, we’ll be making it easier for visitors to access the park and explore its history.
The project has been made possible by a grant from the Parks for People programme which is jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Big Lottery Fund.
Reviving the park and its buildings
Historically, the park and mansions were intrinsically linked, each accentuating the beauty and grandeur of the other. However, in recent years this connection had faded with some historical features being lost and others in need of repair. We’re transforming the inner park, creating a landscape that will complement the mansions and charm visitors throughout the seasons.
We’ve restored many of the garden buildings and architectural features that anchor the park to the mansions and create focal points within the landscape. Notably, the terrace that runs in front of the Large Mansion (the museum building) has been resurfaced and the stone arches, steps and balustrades have also been repaired. The Temple, Orangery and Princess Amelia’s Bath House have all been extensively restored and now take pride of place in the wide-ranging views across the lawns.
Recreating a historic water feature
Perhaps the most striking element of the project is the re-creation of the west Horseshoe Pond. Arching from the newly restored Orangery in front of the Large Mansion this large historic pond has been re-dug and completed with a dramatic central fountain and planting along the water’s edge. Originally, there would have been a second mirror image pond to the eastern side of the stone bridge. A number of mature specimen trees now grow in this area and we have decided to retain them rather than dig the second pond at this time.
The Round Pond has also undergone specialist works. Having been drained, the build-up of silt was removed before the pond was re-lined with clay. The park-wide water pipe network was restored too, reconnecting the Round Pond and Horseshoe Pond to the Potomac Lake.
Planting for people
Another key aspect of the restoration is re-introducing planting schemes that reflect Gunnersbury’s Victorian heyday. The new schemes for the borders, rockeries and shrub beds surrounding the lawns to the south of the mansions take inspiration from historic paintings and plans of the park. But we’re also thinking about modern day visitors and making sure the combination of plants we choose create interest throughout the year.
Meanwhile, our Community Garden in the east Walled Garden is going from strength to strength. Here, volunteers are leading the design and planting of fruit and vegetable beds to help tell the story of Gunnersbury’s working gardens that used to provide food for the elaborate dinners held here.
Exploring the park
Visitors today will find the project has also brought improvements to footpaths including improved surfaces, new ramped access to the terrace and new links between the inner and outer parklands.
There’s new wayfinding signage and maps too. And we’ve introduced specially designed metal sculptural signs to share Gunnersbury’s stories, relating the features you can see in the park today to life here in the past.
Plan your visit now