|HCC Site ID:||1807||Parish:||Winchester|
|Designations:||CA, House LB II*, Temple LB II||Area:||small|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Winchester City Council|
Site and Location
Abbey Gardens are situated close to the Guildhall in Winchester.
Abbey House lies on the site of King Alfred’s Nunnaminster The majority of the surviving building is late 18th century,possibly designed by William Pescod in 1751. There is a Garden Temple in the grounds built about 1759 across a conduit to the Abbey Mill. The temple has a Doric portico of 4 columns, entablature and pediment crowned with urns. In 1890, Winchester Town Council applied to the Local Government board for a loan of £5000 to purchase the land to be used as a Public Pleasure Ground. Folkestone Place, a row of houses facing the Broadway, was demolished and the grounds were laid out and ‘improved’ during 1890/91. During the 1890s the brick walk surrounding the property was gradually replaced by iron gates and railings paid for by Richard Moss. A bridge was constructed opposite the front door of the house and money was spent on turf, trees, shrubs, bulbs, seats, a notice board and even goldfish.
The Temple was repaired, cleaned and painted, a large greenhouse disposed of, paths laid out along the river, trees thinned out and 24 seats located. The gardens were open on weekdays from 11.00am–8.00pm and on Sundays from 2.00-5.00pm.
A statue of Queen Victoria by Sir Arthur Gilbert RA, commissioned for the Golden Jubilee in 1887 and sited in the Castle Yard, was moved to the Abbey Grounds and remained there until 1910 when it was returned to the County Council and placed in the Great Hall.
During the 20th century the property was continuously maintained despite some setbacks during the two World Wars, for example in 1939 three ugly air-raid shelters were constructed and some iron railings were removed.
The Gardens now have several formal flowerbeds, a rose garden, a scented garden for the blind as well as the Doric Temple with a channel of the Itchen running through. They are extensively used by the public, particularly in the Spring and Summer when they are especially attractive. There is also a well-used children’s play area.
Abbey Gardens built on the site of King Alfred’s Nunnaminster in the mid-18th century including a Doric Temple by a stream. Acquired by Winchester Corporation in 1890 and laid out as a public pleasure ground. Remains a council-owned popular, public green space.
Information: October 2003
120M94/080 Hampshire Chronicle c 1969
120M94W/D24 Medieval Winchester and 120M94W/77
E176 Photo of Abbey Mill House 1930s
W/K2/4/69 Abbey Gardens early 20th century
W/K2 Aerial view