Our shop and café has been built within the Victorian walled garden that formerly served Little Plumstead Hall. The hall was built in 1889 for the Rev Charles Johnston as a large Elizabethan style mansion on the site of an earlier hall and parkland.
These references to the walled garden give an idea of its historical appearance:
“To the west of the house is a walled kitchen garden with battlemented and turreted walls (Grade II listed), box-edged borders and paths and a Victorian glasshouse (in need of repair) which boasts a vine. Adjacent is an orchard containing a number of very old apples.”
Reference: ‘Norfolk Gardens and Designed Landscapes’ by Dallas, Last & Williamson
“Near the hall and contiguous to the village church which here forms an interesting object, there is an exceedingly prolific walled-in garden, well planted, and the lofty walls clothed with choice fruit trees. They are extensive and laid out with taste and encircled by fine oak, beech and other forest trees.”
Reference: Sale particulars of Little Plumstead Hall, Friday 10 August 1855; Norfolk Record Office.
The walled garden was part of Little Plumstead Hospital from the 1930s onwards. It was maintained to a high standard but the fruit trees and vegetables disappeared. Prior to its sale to developers in the 1990s, it was a garden of shrubs, flowers and a grassed area used by patients, staff and visitors. Many people have fond memories of attending a jazz evening, a hospital social function or time spent tending the garden with patients.
Today the garden is quite different; left for many years, only a few plants from that time remain. We took on the challenge to acquire the land and bring this special space back to life.
Alongside the work being completed for your community shop and café, a group was formed in the autumn of 2018 to work on a plan to restore the garden to its former glory. Local volunteers worked on grant applications, visiting other walled gardens for inspiration, completing a design, as well as researching the planting history — something we are still working on so if anyone has any local knowledge of the garden please get in touch.
The plan is to make sure there is plenty of social space for this new era of the garden, but also incorporate some Victorian style beds and planting. Our vision is that, around the walls, heritage variety apples and pears in the cordon style will be reintroduced, and the wall beds with planting for all season colour and interest. There will also be the introduction of a Medlar, Fig, Quince and Mulberry. We would like the four central beds to be flowers and foliage, maybe one day selling these flowers in the shop, and to brighten up the café whilst you enjoy your coffee and cake with us.
Our project is mentioned by the Norfolk Green Care Network which allows green care projects around the county to better support each other and share information.
We would love you to come and help in the garden, everyone is welcome.
Hope to see you soon!