Heritage Volunteers


4 JAN 2018 - 13:22 BY PAT LIVESEY

Our members have been involved in a research and conservation project at the Luton Hoo Walled Garden since 2001. The 4¾ acre octagonal garden is part of the Luton Hoo Estate and was created in the 18th century by John Stuart 3rd Earl of Bute for his botanical collection. Its history has followed the changing tastes of its owners through the 19th and 20th centuries and it continued to flourish until WWII but, like so many similar walled gardens, it gradually fell into decline during the post war years.

More than twenty years of neglect resulted in a garden covered with weeds and brambles and buildings in an advanced state of decay. Through research and the collection of oral histories its fascinating history is gradually being pieced together and buildings, tools and equipment are being conserved and restored. The weeds have been cleared, the paths have been reinstated and a new garden created by volunteers is now flourishing.

The Walled Garden was designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown who also redesigned the parkland for Lord Bute. Volunteers have researched the work done by Brown at Luton Hoo and in 2016, the tercentenary of Brown’s birth, hosted two study days for the public which concentrated on his contribution to the history of the garden. Whenever possible, research material is incorporated into displays, talks and tours.

There are many volunteers working on the project and our members are a small percentage of the whole but they contribute in all areas, cataloguing documents, restoring and conserving tools, gardening, guiding and stewarding. The project covers many skills and interests and new volunteers are mentored and given training when necessary. Those who work at the garden find it a very rewarding experience as there is always something new to learn and lively people to meet.

Visitors are welcome to visit the garden for themselves and meet the volunteers each Wednesday between the beginning of May and the end of September. Guided tours and refreshments are available.
For further information see