CommunityCreative ParticipationFeasibility ReportToolkit

Wentworth Castle Gardens Walled Garden

Year | 2015
Location | Barnsley, UK
Client | Wentworth Castle and Stainborough Park Heritage Trust

Wentworth Castle and Stainborough Park Heritage Trust are an independent charitable trust responsible for the operation of Wentworth Castle Gardens. Wentworth Castle Gardens are located in a rural area near the city of Barnsley, the estate includes Capability Brown style gardens, a collection of vernacular agricultural buildings, classical styled follies and Wentworth Castle, a large country house. There is a total of 26 English Heritage listed buildings on the Wentworth Castle Estate and Wentworth Castle Park and Gardens is also a Grade I listed landscape. The trust have restored much of the landscape and buildings on the site, including an award winning restoration of a Victorian conservatory. The walled garden is one of the only remaining parts of the site left in disrepair.

The client’s principal concern with the existing site was the lack of access for visitors with physical disabilities. The walled garden presents an opportunity to resolve this issue. There was also broader vision for the redevelopment of the walled garden. This includes relocation of visitor accommodation such as the cafe and ticket office as these existing spaces were designed for 30,000 less visitors per year than currently experienced.

The site was analysed in terms of history, materials, existing fabric condition, environment and existing building users. Precedents of restored walled gardens were studied and architectural approaches to working with historic buildings were evaluated. The opportunities and limitations of existing key spaces on and around the site were also assessed.

Two consultation exercises were conducted, one with the visitors to the site and one with the volunteers. Consultation methods focused on defining new uses of space within the six acre walled garden. The visitor consultation was conducted first and was coordinated on the busiest day of the week. A variety of consultation methods were employed including a walk with a corresponding leaflet, an interactive site model, a site map with photos for collaging, a large scale model of the walled garden orangery, a range of children’s colouring sheets and a sticky notes comments board. The walled garden was inaccessible to the public so these consultation methods were designed to offer visitors an overview of the site. Themes that were identified in the public consultation were used to create collages that became talking points for the subsequent volunteer consultation.

A large quantity of feedback was received from the client, volunteers and visitors and this was used to generate design ideas. Given the scale of the project both physically and in terms of timeframe, proposals would need more development than could be afforded in a six week live project. For this reason, instead of working on refined proposals, schematic ideas were drawn up. These ideas were exhibited in a project document that outlined the project process, analysed the context, evaluated consultation feedback and, illustrated and analysed schematic options generated by this feedback.

The client wanted continued consultation discussions with the visitors and volunteers. A consultation toolkit was therefore produced that collected all of the previously used consultation materials and included new participation methods as part of an iterative consultation process.