April Meeting

Margie Hoffnung’s excellent talk, The Threats to Historic Parks and Garden, was both informative and concerning.

Margie explained that gardens and parks are listed, as houses are, but Historic England suspects as many as 30% are not, including areas of ancient agricultural systems and orchards.

From her photos there seems to be so many ways that we are destroying the history of and changing the look and feel of historic gardens, parks and there buildings and structures.

Margie took us through some of these threats such as, roads and traffic, finance, demolition, overgrowth  and misguided intervention. She pointed out that whilst there was lots of demolition after the war, it sometimes still happens and neglect is common, saying that overgrowth may be cheep to resolve but vandalism, poor management and change of use can be irreparable. As well as threats from climate change including flooding and conditions legislation imposes, Margie said that renewable energy, tourism, public events and diseases like box blight all play a part.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, Margie as the Conservation Officer for the Gardens Trust, a UK charity dedicated to protecting and conserving historic parks, gardens and designed landscapes is fighting on our behalf. This trust supports the 36 County Gardens Trust which help protect and promote historic designed landscapes. Volunteers in the CGT help the GT by researching local landscapes, recording site surveys, checking historic environment records, working with schools, helping with media, fundraising events and garden visits.

This is a way we could all help, visit wiltshiregt.org.uk, Margie said these meeting often involve great cake!

Margie also said that the ‘Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023’ includes parks and gardens, which help. Let’s hope so as she and our landscape needs it.