Like so many conservation organisations, the Hampshire Gardens Trust came into being in response to the very real threat to the survival and wellbeing of an important part of the nation’s heritage.
In 1983 Hampshire was overheating badly in development terms and the conservation-minded County Council had determined to safeguard the county’s areas of high landscape value. A series of reports were commissioned by the then County Planning Officer, Roger Brown (who sadly died in 2015). The report on Historic Parks and Gardens revealed some shocking facts: it indicated both the wealth of garden heritage in the county and also the decline, indeed the disappearance of many parks and gardens noted on various records and the impact of inappropriate development on sensitive sites.
The Council’s response was to call a conference at Avington Park. This proved to be a turning point: the beginning of what is now a county-based and country-wide movement to bring together volunteers to help identify, record & conserve parks and gardens of national, regional and local importance; to create new gardens in towns and cities; to encourage gardens in school grounds and other places where they serve communities and to enhance the quality of life in children’s homes, hospitals and respite care homes. Where Hampshire led, 34 counties in England and Wales followed.
We are able to follow this ambitious agenda because we continue to enjoy a very close and supportive working relationship with Hampshire County Council. The support, enthusiasm and annual subscriptions of our members are vital. We have only one paid member of staff, our part-time Administrator; everyone else is a volunteer who brings to the Trust a wealth of expertise, experience and range of interests covering so many walks of life. The overriding belief that brings us together is the opportunity to make a difference.