Also see Shuttleworth Collection
The Swiss garden, dating from 1820, the late Regency period, was created by Lord Ongley. A raised terrace on the western edge of the garden was added in the 1870s when Old Warden Park (home to the garden) was purchased by the Shuttleworth family. The garden is in the Swiss picturesque style with formal walks and vistas, thatched buildings, woodland glades, a grotto, a fernery, trees, and a bridge. There are two ponds, an Indian pavilion, and specimen shrubs and conifers. Peacocks wander in the grounds.
The thatched Swiss cottage in the grounds is the focal point of a number of created vistas. The inside of the cottage is decorated with bark and fir cones. The cottage is thought to be the work of the architect John Buonarotti Papworth, who lived nearby.
After being closed for restoration the nine acre garden re-opened in the summer of 2014. The restoration transformed its once crumbling fairytale-style landscape and buildings back to its Regency appearance.
The garden’s 13 listed buildings and structures, including six listed at Grade II*, were conserved during the restoration with its two-storey centrepiece, the Swiss Cottage, re-thatched, the cottage finials re-gilded with 23 carat gold leaf and missing or broken rustic decoration replaced. Almost 4300 panes of glass in the grotto and fernery were replaced with hand-cut handmade cylinder glass.
Now visitors can enjoy thousands of shrubs and bulbs in bloom and can wander along recreated paths to enjoy the once lost vistas. With the original layout of the Swiss Garden so intact, it is the best surviving Regency garden in the country and a unique example of the ‘Swiss Picturesque’ style.
After visiting the garden aviation addicts can immerse themselves in the Shuttleworth aeroplane collection on the grounds.
At Shuttleworth, on Biggleswade Road, Old Warden Park, Bedfordshire
Signposted from A1 Biggleswade roundabout, southeast of Bedford, SG18 9EP
Tel. 01767 627927
Open: April-end Oct, 10am-5pm; Nov-end March, 10am-4pm; shop, café, children’s outdoor play area; free parking; at the same location is the Shuttleworth Collection. Tickets are available for entry to the garden only or a joint ticket is available for the Shuttleworth Collection.
Photos © by Barbara Ballard and by Andy Marshall (courtesy Swiss garden)
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