Dean Garnier Garden

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HCC Site ID: 1602 Parish: Winchester
Designations: Area: Small
Access: Public Access during daylight hours Ownership: Winchester Cathedral, garden managed by the Friends Association

Location and Site

The Dean Garnier Garden lies within Winchester Cathedral Close, on the site of the monk’s dorter, adjacent to the Chapter House lawn and the Cathedral. The 65 x 15m plot is raised, thereby allowing a view of the Cathedral not previously seen, to the public.

Historic Development

In 1992, a portion of the Deanery garden within Winchester Cathedral Close (the Dean’s Rose garden) was donated by the Dean to create a public garden to be run by a Friends Group under the auspices of Hampshire Gardens Trust. Little was publicly known about Dean Garnier, Dean of Winchester Cathedral from 1840 –1872 apart from the fact that he had been a keen horticulturalist and gardener. He had, in fact, created a world-renowned arboretum at the Rectory in Bishopstoke where he lived when Rector of Bishopstoke from 1807-1865, importing many specimen trees from around the world.
Hampshire County Council agreed that Sally Hocking, their Historic Landscape Officer, would be responsible for providing a suitable design for the space. Jennifer Harmer undertook research into the gardening skills of Dean Garnier but it took until mid-1994 before sufficient funds were raised and the design plan agreed. The work commenced in late 1994 and the garden was officially opened in 15 October, 1995.

Current Description

Entrance to the garden is through a heavy wooden door from the Close, up stone steps onto the raised ground. It is divided into three ‘rooms’: the Dorter Garden, the Presbytery Lawn and the Lady Chapel Garden. The Dorter Garden  has a lawned area with an old medlar tree, a strawberry tree (Arbutus onedo)  and a malus,  surrounded by paths and shrub borders. It covers the length of the original monks’ dorter and includes the Monks’ herb garden. The remainder of the dormitory flint wall was excavated and can be seen along the northern edge of this part of the garden. A metal arbour with three arches to accommodate climbers, echoes the arcade of the early Norman arches below the garden. This leads on to the Presbytery Lawn designed to be a ‘calm, green stage.. flanked by scented plants and backed by green buttresses of yews’. The third and last ‘room’ is the Lady Chapel Garden, named for the part of the cathedral to which it corresponds, designed to be full of colour and exuberance.
Planting in the whole garden was carefully chosen, following research by Jennifer Harmer to be in keeping with medieval and Victorian times, and Dean Garnier’s system of layering for seasonal planting was adopted. The Lady Chapel Garden was ennvisaged as a secret garden, with cottage garden planting using perennials so that the visitor would be met by an explosion of colour as the borders came into view. Various sculptures and seats have been donated to the garden and a plaque representing Dean Garnier was installed in 2015 on the wall closest to the Deanery. In 2018 two memorial purbeck stone benches were added to the Lady Chapel for visitors to sit in the stillness of the garden.

In 2020 the planting in the Lady Chapel beds is being renewed, following the ideas set out in 1994. The gardens are  managed by a Friends Group and maintained by a small gardening group. They are open during daylight hours each day, except for the period from late November until mid- January, when the Close is made over to the Christmas Market.


Opened in Winchester Cathedral Close in 1995 as a calm, green space, built on the raised ground of the monks’ ‘dorter’; designed with three garden ‘rooms’ and plants from medieval and Victorian times. Named after the 19th C gardening cleric, Dean Garnier, and managed by a Friends Group.

Information: 2008/2020

Our address

Winchester Public Access during daylight hours Click for Disclaimer & copyright
51.06033079816095, -1.3135020732443081

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