A memorial garden has been restored in Chelmsford’s Hylands Park giving residents of all ages a place for quiet reflection. The reinstated garden was originally created by the Hanbury family, the last private owners of the estate.

This area of Hylands Park has been in a sad state until now. It has been restored with thanks to a substantial charitable donation from Friends of Hylands House and delivered in partnership by Chelmsford City Council.

The memorial garden is home to a crypt for the Hanbury family who owned the estate from 1922-1962. Mrs Christine Hanbury made the private garden a memorial for her husband John who died shortly after purchasing the house, and their son Jock, a pilot officer, who died on exercise over Surrey at the beginning of World War II. After Mrs Hanbury’s death, Chelmsford City Council (then known as Chelmsford Borough Council) bought the Hylands Estate and opened it up to the public. Over the years, the Council has set about restoring the house and the grounds back to its former glory.

With the donation from Friends of Hylands House, the City Council’s parks team and Hylands Estate gardeners have carefully restored the memorial garden with Christine Hanbury in mind. The first part of the project began five years ago, with the restoration of an ornate fence which was found twisted and buckled with shrubs growing through it. Mrs Hanbury was a lover of brightly coloured plants, so the planting scheme includes her beloved pink and orange rhododendrons and azaleas, as well as white borders.

The garden has been researched to make sure it’s reflective of the 1920-30s period. It’s described as an arts and crafts garden, with thought given to keeping it in character. Whilst elements such as the paving are not original, reclaimed York stone has been used to restore the garden to how it would have first looked, and the benches are replicas of the originals. The garden has been designed to be wheelchair-friendly so that all can access the space and enjoy the vista across the parkland.

The reinstated garden was officially re-opened on 1 July by the Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Jude Deakin, who expressed “great thanks to the Friends of Hylands House for financing the project and making it possible”.

Linda Knock, Chairman of Friends of Hylands House, hopes the “special garden” will be enjoyed and respected by the park’s visitors: “This project has been many years in the making and much work had to be done. We owe a lot of gratitude to committee members of the Friends of Hylands House for their input – especially regarding the restoration of the fence and the sourcing of the beautiful stone seats. We’re at last at the end of the journey in restoring this lovely garden and would love to now see it respectfully enjoyed by the park’s visitors.”

The Hanbury Memorial Garden is open to the public and located behind the Pleasure Gardens, to the left of the house. Don’t forget to close the gate to keep the rabbits out!

The garden will be looked after by the Hyland’s Estate head gardener and teams, with support from City Council garden volunteers. Garden volunteers offer their time, support and passion for horticulture and are important in helping keep Chelmsford’s parks in such wonderful shape, including the Hanbury Memorial Garden. If you’d like to become a garden volunteer yourself, visit the Love Your Chelmsford website for more information.

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