The enclosed garden immediately south of the mansion – the Priory Garden – is a wonderful south-facing place used both as an entry to the gardens and as a sitting-out area from the south room. Originally there was a glazed corridor along the west side leading to the Wintergarden. Along the east side – backing onto the forecourt screen wall – was a loggia. This loggia comprised 10 stone columns with an elaborate hardwood fascia above and was sold to Lord Chelmer around 1950 when parts were erected at his home, Bullwood Hall, near Hockley, in Essex. He later sold Bullwood Hall to the Home Office as a women’s prison. He took some of the unused parts of the loggia to his new home at Peacocks, Margaretting. A while back we were able to secure the return of all the parts that had been left at Bullwood Hall, thanks to the Home Office. From Peacocks other parts were returned thanks to the new owner, Philip Torr. We have recently been awarded a grant of £10,000 by the Essex Heritage Trust towards the re-erection of a large part of the loggia.
On the southern lower terrace the ground has been levelled, sown with grass and mown (see picture above). The foundation to the southern perimeter path has been advanced in its reconstruction by volunteers in readiness for its final surface. At the end of the causeway more stabilisation work has taken place including the construction of two brick curved retaining walls to prevent soil and debris descending into the newly cleared foundations of the end steps. These brick walls will not be seen when the end of the causeway is reconstructed.
Moving down to the northern part of the garden, one of the trustees has pruned the tops of the double row of limes, in the pleached lime walk, to enable new growth in the spring to be trained horizontally to eventually form two parallel hedges at high level above the trunks of the trees. This is a Victorian feature which we are concerned to re-establish. It was also a feature of Elizabethan gardens. The Rock Garden, nearby, has substantially flooded for the first time since the Trust has owned Copped Hall. It seems we will need to install a drain to resolve the issue.
In the Walled Kitchen Garden the glasshouse next to the fully restored hot house has been over 50% completed. There are separate plans to start on the Orchard House with the aim of restoring the eastern half up to and including the dividing partition. Funding is being negotiated. Detailed restoration of the edges of the beds and adjustment of their levels continues, in addition to the regular work of mowing, weeding, sowing, and harvesting and selling produce. Despite all the work that is involved, the volunteers are proud of the general order of the garden and are encouraged by all the very positive responses from visitors. The volunteers are always amused by the gasps of new visitors when they enter through the top door. The same reaction occurs when visitors see the wonderful 450-foot herbaceous border in the Long Garden on the other side of the south wall.