Association of Friends Groups

Hyde Abbey Garden

Hyde Abbey in Winchester, fell victim to Henry VIII at the dissolution of the monasteries (1539-41), and by the last century nothing was left to see of the huge church in which Alfred the Great had been reburied in 1110. A Community dig led by Winchester City’s archaeologists in 1997-1999 succeeded in finding the foundations of the east end of the church, together with the presumed sites of the graves of Alfred, his wife and his son.

Hampshire Gardens Trust felt that the site should not once again disappear, and suggested that a garden should mark the spot. A group of Friends was formed under the Trust’s guidance and the City Council agreed to make it their millennium project and gave a substantial grant. Funds were also provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Hampshire County Council and many local organisations and individuals. Internationally known landscape architect Kim Wilkie, a Hampshire resident, was chosen to design the garden and work began in 2003. He has created a mound on the site of the east end of the old Abbey church, where a representation of the royal graves can be seen in front of the high altar. The interior architectural features of the church are marked by flint paving, three ledger stones above the royal graves, holly trees which mark the site of the church’s columns and buttresses and yew hedges which represent the side chapels.

At the entrance to the garden a glass panel engraved by local resident Tracey Sheppard was set up to show how the Abbey church looked from that viewpoint. At the western end of the garden a new bridge over the stream leads to North Walls Recreation Ground. The completion of the Garden was celebrated on 22 October 2007 when its specially designed lighting was switched on by Alan Titchmarsh.

Sadly, Tracey Sheppard’s panel was destroyed in July 2010.However, when she confirmed that she was prepared to create a replacement the Friends resolved to raise the necessary funds. Thanks to generous donations from many individuals and local organisations, a new panel was commissioned in 2011 and was installed in July 2012.

The Garden is maintained by the Friends of Hyde Abbey Garden who were involved in raising part of the original finance and who now hold regular gardening working parties and organise fund-raising events to purchase essential tools and supplies.