Although still shrouded in mystery, the origins of this historically important garden are likely to be contemporaneous with the late mediaeval house it surrounds. However, what the early form and shape was is at present unknown. It none the less possesses great historical importance, as a rare, possibly unique, surviving example of an early eighteenth-century town garden. Especially so as it has retained the integrity of its original boundaries for almost the last three hundred years. The formal areas that survive were created in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, for a gentleman of comparatively modest means. This part of the garden contains very fine clipped yew hedges and walks dating back to the 1720s. They were almost certainly planted as a then fashionable overlay onto a much earlier garden form.
The Yew-Arcade, circa 1900.
In 2000, as part of a Heritage lottery Fund application, Anderson & Glenn prepared an Historical Appraisal of the grounds. At the same time they produced a Conservation Plan, that also covered the Hall and its Museum collections. This was to assist and guide the on-going strategy for the restoration and conservation of the site and its collections. The recommendations contained within this plan have now been adopted as official policy by its current custodians, South Holland District Council.
Over the last six years, Anderson and Glenn have undertaken considerable research into the planning history of Ayscoughfee Gardens, the results of which have yet to be published. However, much of this information was used in the development of a Leader + Initiative for the site, which Anderson and Glenn were commissioned to prepare in 2006. The proposed Leader + Project includes extensive archaeological investigations, historical and horticultural research and some targeted restoration of the historic fabric. Local groups, of all ages, are to be encouraged to take part in many of the proposed activities.
Dr John Glenn (left), discussing his research findings at Ayscoughfee, with Peter Goodchild of English Heritage's Historic Parks and Gardens Advisory Committee.