First indications of serious fruit, flower and vegetable growing occur in 1812 when a lease included clauses that allowed the tenant to erect a hot house or green house. According to the 1838 Tithe Survey, the original gardener's cottage was located in the south-west corner of the garden (the top right of the area, looking from the main entrance gate).
The key figure at this time was James Beck, who leased Allesley Hall from the Neales for at least 30 years after 1812. He owned the major bank in Coventry and was responsible for the first hospital in the city. Importantly, Beck was a keen gardener and away from the pressures of work and domestic life he was probably the man who had the garden replanted with fruit trees in 1842.
The catalogue for the sale by auction of the old Allesley Hall in 1897 shows the walled garden with a border path around the four walls and a central path and cross path creating four quarters. It is described as 'the exceptionally fine kitchen garden' in this document, with glass houses, a vinery, stove house and forcing pits.
Through the first half of the 20th century the walled garden continued to operate as a kitchen garden serving the needs of the tenant and household of Allesley Hall. The last occupant was Major Orton in 1937, after which the garden became the responsibility of Coventry Council. The Head Gardener, Mr Manners, was retained by the Council with free accommodation in the gardener's cottage.
In the 1950s the Municipal Parks' Department used the site as a nursery for bedding plants, but this ceased as staff numbers were cut back and in 1962 the garden was grassed over and various low-maintenance shrubs, trees and wall climbers were planted. The garden received little attention for the next 30 years and was little more than rough grass, conifers and ivy until a group of enthusiasts got together to restore the area to its former glory and ensure that this historical gem was not abandoned. The Allesley Park Walled Garden Group was formed in early 1997.
After careful research, proposals were put forward in February 2000 for a complete restoration of the Walled Garden in five phases. The Sports and Parks Policy Committee of Coventry City Council concluded:
The creation of the Allesley Walled Garden Group [sic] is a very positive outcome from public consultation. Through the hard work and commitment of a small group of local volunteers, this project, with appropriate support and encouragement, should produce the restoration of part of the City's heritage and provide an attractive educational feature for local people to enjoy.
Despite fulfilling everything the Council had asked for, in 2010 a decision by the Council called a halt to the original restoration. We were told that the group’s work would only be allowed to continue on the quarter of the garden already established. This was seen as something of a set-back.
The Walled Garden Group continued to collaborate with the City Council and to enjoy the support of other stakeholders, working with local schools, specialist gardening groups and heritage enthusiasts.
Having been prevented from developing the three-quarters of the walled garden in accordance with the original agreement, the Walled Garden Group decided to instigate a consultation that would establish a new way forward. The Council ran the consultation in 2012 and following a positive result has employed landscape architects to work with APWGG and the Friends of Allesley Park on the drafting of a masterplan for the whole garden.
In 2014 it is envisaged a grant will be applied for to implement the final plan.
In the meantime the Walled Garden Group continues to upgrade the quality of the garden itself, continuing to grow without chemicals. The garden is also used to develop a series of projects with local schools and Ryton Organic.
The walled garden at Allesley Park was created by John Neale, Lord of the Manor, more than 200 years ago in order to exploit its microclimate and feed the household living at the hall. While no records have been discovered of the early planting scheme, his project was not dissimilar to other walled garden schemes around the country like that at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Croome Court in Worcestershire.
The walled garden at Allesley Park was developed in stages over the years.
In later years several important figures lived there: a prominent Coventry banker who founded Coventry's first hospital; and an internationally renowned publisher who preferred the Arts and Crafts style of domestic architecture. This owner demolished an imposing Georgian mansion and created another hall that stands today..
Allesley Hall & its Lands
The story of Allesley Park goes back to medieval times, the 13th century, when England's first elected Parliament met in the Palace of Westminster. It was instituted by Simon de Montfort who was with Henry de Hastings, a powerful baron, at the siege of Kenilworth Castle in 1264. De Hastings was the man who created a deer park here in Allesley, part of the Forest of Arden.
Several generations of foresters maintained the park until in 1349 the Black Death killed one third of the population. The deer park fell into disrepair and the ruined estate passed into the ownership of the Earl of Warwick. Over the next two centuries the land was divided into farms.
IIn Elizabethan times there was an insignificant dwelling tenanted by several families over the years, but the first reference to a Lord of the Manor and Allesley Park was in the middle of the 17th century. Mention of an important house in the park coincides with the return to power of the royalists in 1658 with the coronation of King Charles II.
The Lordship was sold by a Richard Crompton to Thomas Flynt in 1660 when there was just one house in the conveyance – an inn at Allesley Village later called the King's Arms. It was renamed the White Horse, then the White Lion, and it survives today as a private residence opposite Lion Fields Avenue. However, Thomas Flynt's will of 1670 refers to a house in the park itself. So the first hall must have been established in the 1660s. In 1692 ownership changed again with a conveyance of the Manor from Martha Flynt to Henry Neale.
Land records at Allesley go back more than 800 years, to the time when powerful barons ruled. Flynt Avenue in the village recalls Thomas Flynt, who probably built the very first hall in the ancient deer park.
copyright © Allesley Park Walled Garden. All rights reserved.
Charles Camwell - Head Gardner 1920’s - 30’s
|Allesley Park History|
|Contact Us (mobile)|