Caversham Court, Reading - £1 million
Client: Reading Borough Council
Landscape Architect: Hampshire Borough Council
BALI Awards: Hard Landscaping Construction - between £300,000 and £1.5 million; Special Award for Restoration
The original gardens at Caversham Court were laid between 1660 and 1681 by Thomas Loveday, and are Grade II listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Reading Borough Council awarded the historic garden’s restoration project to The Landscape Group.
Works began with the restoration of the 17th Century gazebo, making repairs to the roof, structural repairs to the first floor, the installation of oak window
sub-frames and Crittle windows, followed by lime hair plastering.
Rebuilding the 17th century flint causeway that leads to the gazebo included structural repairs to the existing causeway walls using salvage bricks and new handmade bricks to retain the structure. Causeway walls were inset with a timeline of the garden’s history and topped with a wind vane dedicated to conservationist and Caversham campaigner, Molly Casey.
The following conversion of the old toilet block into a new kiosk/tea room involved stripping out the existing toilet block, before re-roofing the building, installing new openings, doors, WC’s and plumbing, and concluded by the fitting out of a new kitchen.
Additional renovation works included structural repairs, restoration and retaining works to the historic crinkle-crankle wall and the old stone
masonary elements of the forecourt walls, followed by the rebuilding of the historic Pugin designed gateway that was once removed. This included installing new stone entrance gates and restoring the existing oak gates.
Final restorations involved the excavation of the existing house footprint, in order to expose the original 17th and 19th century foundations of the mansion houses. These were later fitted with limestone and brick paviors, creating a new grass, stone and brick terrace to mark changes over time.
Since its restoration, Caversham Court Gardens has won two consecutive Green Flag Awards, as well as a Green Heritage Site Award two years running. The gardens were also recognized as the Best Regional Park in the Thames & Chilterns regions of the 2010 Britain in Bloom Awards, as well as being awarded special recognition for restoration and hard landscaping at the BALI awards in the same year.
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