Enjoy afternoon tea on Sundays at Norwich's Plantation Garden

The summer afternoon teas, and the rest, kick off at The Plantation Garden, Norwich on June 19.

The summer afternoon teas, and the rest, kick off at The Plantation Garden, Norwich on June 19. - Credit: The Plantation Garden

The sun is shining, the refreshments are delicious, the music is playing… and you are sitting in enchanting surroundings.

The season of Sunday afternoon teas begin tomorrow (June 19) at what is one of the most significant Victorian urban gardens in the whole country.

It lies off Earlham Road, close to the  line of the medieval city walls, and was created in a former chalk quarry by its owner, leading city businessman and horticulturalist, Henry Trevor.

Sarah Spooner of The Landscape Group at the University of East Anglia, wrote a fascinating book telling its unique story on behalf of the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust.

She explains so well how Henry created a garden which contained many of the features, planting and buildings of the Victorian period on a site of around three acres.

The land had been used for lime burning and chalk extraction before Henry leased the site in the mid-1850s, building the house and starting create a garden.

It is believed that the garden is the work of Henry himself in close partnership with his gardener, George Woodhouse, and the great architect Edward Boardman.

The summer afternoon teas, and the rest, kick off at The Plantation Garden, Norwich on June 19.

The summer afternoon teas, and the rest, kick off at The Plantation Garden, Norwich on June 19. - Credit: The Plantation Garden

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They combined to create a very special place with a unique atmosphere and features.

Although the Plantation was a private garden, Henry often opened it to the public for charitable events.

In the summer of 1892 he allowed the YMCA to hold a bazaar and garden party in the garden which attracted around 4,000 people and included a firework display.

He would often donate flowers from the gardens to churches across the city and a large number of people living in the late 19th century had the opportunity to enjoy the gardens, and to explore the landscape which he had created.

Henry died in 1897, and although his widow continued to live at the Plantation until 1902, the lease was soon advertised for sale.

In 1905 Sir Kenneth Kemp lived in the house, followed by Percy Evershed and then in 1922, George Green,  became the last private resident of the Plantation.

The well-known Green family made a number of changes to the garden, and then records show that by 1931 the Plantation was converted into a nursing home and continued as a clinic until after the war when it was taken over by Norwich City Council as a maternity home.

The garden fell into disrepair and became overgrown and forgotten about until it was rediscovered and in 1980, thank goodness, the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust was created with the aim of conserving this gem.

It was a huge task. One we should applaud

What wonderful work they have done and continue to do. The Plantation has a new lease of life and is a place we can all enjoy.

It was the result of one man’s vision and is an excellent example of a privately-owned Victorian garden (as opposed to a public park or garden) and its very survival means that it is an important site….one to cherish. 

The book by Sarah Spooner is on sale at the garden. It was sponsored in memory of Rosemary Salt who was very fond of the space.

And we have much to thank members of the preservation team for all their hard work in making sure this glorious gem will be enjoyed for many years to come.

It was the secret garden…today it is the people’s garden.

Down in the garden

A whole host of events are taking place at The Plantation this summer including concerts, plays, family shows and films.

The Sunday Afternoon Teas begin tomorrow (June 19), from 2pm to 4pm. You can enjoy homemade cakes, and listen to performances by some talented local musicians and singers.

The first will be members of the Ukulele Society and others taking part through the summer will be The Heart Troubadors, Musical Allsorts, Sarah Smith, Kelmerized, Colin & Malle, Sonrisa and A13 Allstars, Saxobility, the Community Choir and finally, on September 4, the Park Lane Singers will be performing.

For all the details about events, you will need tickets for some,  in the coming weeks visit plantationgarden.co.uk