With Renovation Work Set to Begin This Week

We take a walk through Chiswick House Grounds with those responsible for the project

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Details of the restoration project can be found at www.chgt.org.uk

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The money has been secured, permission granted and now work on Chiswick House Grounds is set to begin.

Fiona Crumley Head Gardener at Chiswick House, John Watkins Head of Landscapes and Gardens for English Heritage, Martin Clayton Project Director for English Heritage and Richard Gill Project Officer for LBH were in the grounds this week to talk about the enormous task ahead of them.

The appointment of a contractor is imminent however, work starts Monday 18th February regardless to deal with a fallen tree on which a report was being awaited. Before the report had time to be published, decay took over, the tree fell and unfortunately damaged a number of younger healthy trees around it.

This was nature taking its course but clearly there will also be dangers associated with the restoration works. Richard Gill said "The easiest thing to do would be to shut the gates and get on with the work; it would be a lot cheaper and quicker too. Having the park open the works also makes them more complicated but this is primarily a public park and therefore it is vital we keep it open for the public to use and enjoy.”

Asked what he felt would be the toughest part of the project to tackle, Martin Clayton replied "Our biggest challenge is turning round 30 of decline."

He continued, “The Park doesn't suffer from a great deal of vandalism, there seems to be a level of respect and hopefully all the renovation work will make this even rarer.”

“The people of use the grounds also tend to be self policing for example CHOW’s [Chiswick House's Dog Walkers' Association] introduction of a doggy code of conduct.”

“Dog walkers don’t seem to mind telling other dog walkers to keep their animals off the flower beds,” added Fiona “It’s much better coming from another owner than coming from me.”

The project is split into three main parts: Landscape, Café and the Conservatory. However, before the landscaping can really get underway, some preliminary work will be taking place over the next few weeks, which may involve fencing off certain areas of the gardens in particular adjacent to the café where archaeological investigations to complete the design of the foundations of the new café will be starting towards the end of March. Arboricultural (tree) works required in this area, and specific areas in the Camellia Shrubbery, and along the western side of the Lake, will be beginning in mid February and finishing before the bird-nesting season starts at the beginning of March.

This does mean that there may be a period where little happens between the tree removals and the restoration work starting. An on-going ecological action plan has recommended that these works take place in advance of the project so that wildlife, in particular nesting birds, are not disturbed once the project starts

Work on the conservatory is expected to start in about three month’s times and on building the Café at the end of the summer.

Full details of the restoration project can be found at www.chgt.org.uk including the future of trees at Chiswick House Gardens, and the design for the new cafe.

February 20, 2008