Bid to restore hidden 18th-century garden

The gazebo garden in Havant
The gazebo garden in Havant
St Michaels Building, the University of Portsmouth. Picture: University of Portsmouth

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  • !8th century gazebo garden hidden away in town centre
  • Historians plan to restore it to former glory and open it up to the public
  • Lottery grant bid made
  • Planning application for restoration work submitted
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A SECRET garden in the middle of a busy town is to be restored to its former glory.

The Gazebo Garden, in The Pallant, off East Street, Havant, was built in the 18th century and is considered by local historians to be a great example of the period’s design.

To some extent it is a secret garden. It is an important asset to the town

Tim Dawes

Havant Civic Society (HCS) has taken over the maintenance of the garden from Havant Borough Council and applied for a £20,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to restore it.

They will find out if they are successful later this month.

Tim Dawes, chairman of HCS, said: ‘It is a hidden gem. To some extent it is a secret garden. It is an important asset to the town.

‘For the past few years it has become rather run down and it is time to restore it.

‘Some of the plants have disappeared and gone to seed as they had not been pruned.’

An application has been submitted to Havant Borough Council to carry out repairs to the Georgian gazebo itself, which is heritage listed.

A group called Friends of the Gazebo Garden will voluntarily maintain it, led by Helen Handley.

It will feature plants which would typically have been planted in a decorative garden in the 18th century.

Once the restoration work is complete, interpretation boards will be installed and it will have its own website.

Mr Dawes added: ‘We want to open it up a bit more and improve it as a resource for the local people to demonstrate the history of the area.

‘We want to open up the top of the gazebo – which is currently used as a tool shed – so people can go up and look through the window.’

Schools and history groups will be invited to use the garden for educational events.

It has been used in the past to host events for the Havant Literary Festival.

The stamp on the weather vane at the top of the gazebo is 1779. It was built by William Lellyet who at the time owned the house that stood on the site of the present 23-25 East Street.

It was eventually separated from the main house and surrounded by development.

Once restored, it will be made fully open to the public.

Local architect Martin Critchely is carrying out the planning and architectural work for free.