Discover more about the garden
Fulham Palace garden is protected as an important historic landscape. Once enclosed by the longest moat in England, 13 acres remain of the original 36. The surviving layout is mainly 19th century with an earlier Walled Garden and some 18th century landscaping.
The garden includes many rare trees, including the ancient evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) located on the south side of the main lawn. It is estimated to be at least 450 years old and is a Great Tree of London. It may have been planted by Bishop Grindal (1559-1570), who sent grapes grown at the Palace to Elizabeth I each year.
The most celebrated gardening Bishop was Henry Compton (1632-1713) who developed a famous collection of plants, both hardy and exotic. The grounds were landscaped for Bishop Terrick in the 1760s during the rebuilding of the house. The formal enclosed gardens were replaced with open lawns providing views to the river.
The grounds of Fulham Palace have always served a variety of purposes; providing food for the household, a beautiful garden for relaxation and space, for both recreation and hospitality. The celebrated garden parties began with Mrs Tait in the 1860s. Bishop Creighton (1843-1901) exhausted his guests by taking them for fast walks around the garden. Bishop Winnington-Ingram (retired 1939) had a grass tennis court on the south west side of the lawn. A bachelor, he opened up his house to convalescent children from the East End slums and allowed fetes in the grounds. After World War II, the estate had to be run on more economical lines and the garden went into a gradual decline. In 1974 the garden was opened to the public, a year before Hammersmith Council leased the site for 100 years.
The Bishop’s Tree
A recent addition to the garden has been ‘The Bishop’s Tree’. Sculptures by Andrew Frost depicting some of the bishops and their animals have been applied to the stump of the Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) on the north side of the building. Dolores Moorhouse commissioned the sculptures in memory of her late husband, Peter Moorhouse. Visitors, particularly children, delight when they see Bishop Porteus looking out across the lawns from the top of the tree.
Walled Garden Restoration
The Walled Garden was closed in October 2010 to allow restoration and building works to commence. There have been dramatic changes to some features of the garden during the works that completed in March 2012.
The garden paths are now laid out in their traditional position, the knot garden replaced and replanted in its original 1830s design, the walls repointed and repaired, the entrance gates maintained and replaced, the adjacent bothies which were completely derelict have been restored and the once shell of a vinery has been completely rebuilt.
The recently replanted Knot Garden has established well, with no signs of box blight, and in April 2012 received a first trim to allow formal shaping. The earliest image of the Knot Garden is in Jessie MacGregor’s 1915 painting, where it is filled with irises and roses and shows a young wisteria with original metal hoops. From the 1980s it was planted as an herb garden, which became overgrown and was removed in 2010.
We are very grateful to the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding the new planting scheme for the knot garden. They have generously awarded Fulham Palace Trust £1500. The knot garden was planted up in Spring 2012 with an herbaceous perennial display to represent Bishop Blomfield who is believed to have planted the knot garden originally in 1831 during the start of his residency at the Palace. The new scheme represents the colours of his Coat of Arms – red, blue and yellow to provide a colourful display in summer and early autumn.
We are also very thankful to the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association http://www.mpga.org.uk/ who have kindly donated £405 to fund another themed ornamental planting area in the Walled Garden. To highlight and make reference to the Bishop of London’s historic residence of Fulham Palace we are going to grow the range of Bishop Dahlia’s that are currently available. This will make a stunning and striking display for mid to late summer. The Bishop Dahlias are as follows.
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of Canterbury’
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of Oxford’
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of York’
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of Leicester’
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of Dover ‘
The early Victorian bothies that are situated on the outer side of the Walled Garden directly behind the Vinery have also been fully restored. The garden team has moved in and been reunited with its traditional working quarters. The bothies consist of a series of small brick rooms that run along the curved perimeter directly behind the vinery and include a potting shed, tool shed, produce storage rooms and the head gardener’s office.
The vinery, understood to have been built in the early 1830s, is now a stunning new Alitex metal-framed glasshouse with three separate sections. Electric heaters have replaced the original boiler and water pipe heating system, though the old pipes remain in their original positions, reminding us of how it used to be. See the following links from the Alitex website for further images and footage of the vinery works.
Fulham Palace Vinery and Alitex: A Replication Case Study (external link)
Victorian greenhouses – restoration or replacement? (external link)
It is proposed that a mixture of traditional and modern horticultural techniques will be adopted for the new vinery. In Victorian times the glasshouse was intended to grow grape vines and pineapples – a ‘pinery vinery’. The intention is to grow these again in the east wing and centre, as well as other horticultural crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and melons. The west wing will house an ornamental plant display. Some space will also be allocated for propagation to bring on early outdoor crops.