Local treasure at the centre of a European study

Chiswick House Gardens features in major international project

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Chiswick House Gardens is the only British park to feature in a major new European project about the importance of historic parks and the part they play in enhancing people’s lives.

The year-long study – called “My Place – Historic European Parks and their Communities” is a unique piece of collaborative work focussing on beautiful and historic parks and gardens in England, on the German/Polish border and in the Netherlands.

It shows how these four countries have worked in different ways to preserve and regenerate historic parkland, but it is also a celebration of the relationship people and communities have with their local parks, the contribution they make to their quality of life and the potential for community involvement in future.

The historic gardens at Chiswick House have influenced other European gardens for decades and are widely considered as the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement since their creation in the 1720s. They combine a distinguished history with contemporary use as a public park in an urban environment, so were a fitting choice for the British park in this project. A multi-million pound lottery bid supported by English Heritage and private donations to restore and preserve them is underway, which aims to attract new visitors and involve the community more closely with their management.

Cllr Paul Lynch, is a councillor for Chiswick Riverside and his ward includes Chiswick House and Gardens. He said “Hounslow, as a borough, has several beautiful historic parks, which are important to residents’ lives, and Chiswick House in one of our greatest treasures. This study puts them back on the map in an international context. There is general interest in Europe at this time about the restoration of historic parks and gardens and this study will add to, and inform the debate around this fascinating subject.”

Baroness Andrews OBE, Parliamentary Secretary of State, said “I am very pleased that the importance of historic parks is being celebrated in a European context.”

The three parks which form part of this study are Chiswick House Gardens, Twickel Castle near Delden in the Netherlands, and Muzakowski/ Muskauer Park on the Polish/ German border.

All three were created as private parks for the pleasure of their owners but are now enjoyed by the public. The “My Place” project is about the relationships that people build with these special places; places that do not necessarily belong to them, but which nevertheless play an important part in their enjoyment of life and sense of local identity.

The “My Place” project supported activities in each of the contributing parks that were designed to enhance community involvement and understanding of the park. It also brought together professionals in this field from all over the UK and Europe to share ideas and best practice, and to discuss issues raised by the project.

In conclusion, “My Place” has served as an example of how four different countries have tackled the issue of regenerating parks and how they have done it. All countries have learned from each other and developed new strategies from each other’s work.

July 18, 2006