X

EUROPEAN GARDEN HERITAGE NETWORK – EGHN

Wellington Park

Wellington Park, with its pleasing contrasts of formal bedding set against the informal rockeries and winding pathways, is well worth a visit. Wellington Park, a short walk from the town centre, dates from 1902 and still is a compact site of 4.5 acres.

The borders are planted with shrubs but each year the ornamental beds are planted with over 48,000 spring and summer bedding plants. Many of the plantings follow the original plans by Meyer himself, including four species of rhododendron; R.ferrugineum, R.hirsutum, R.Myrtifolium and R.Wilsoni. Various species of berberis, Cytisus purpureus ‘Incarnatus’ (purple broom), Euonymus fortunei Radicans, Juniperus Sabina, Taxus baccata (common yew and T.Doyastoni (Westfelton yew) were also planted.

The lawns are home to some remarkable old trees including a large Liquidamber and a Golden Conifer (Thuja Plicata) and a splendid Weeping Willow hangs over the pond. Pollarded lime trees are planted into the gravel around the bandstand and two massive oaks stand near the war memorial.

The town of Wellington, in the lee of the Blackdown Hills in Somerset, has a fascinating history. There are references to a settlement from the 9th century, but the most famous time in the town’s history dates from 1809, when Arthur Wellesley, who had an estate in the area, chose the title “Viscount Wellington of Wellington and Talavera”. The Wellington Monument, built on a ridge of the Blackdown Hills in his honour, is well worth the short drive from the town for a visit. It stands 175ft high and has commanding views over the Vale of Taunton below. The town itself has many interesting specialist shops and is famous for its flowers – in 2004 it won the Portman Cup in the “Britain in Bloom” competition. But Wellington also has a hidden delight at its heart – the beautiful gardens of Wellington Park.

Wellington Park, a short walk from the town centre, dates from 1902, when the District Council were trying to find a way to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII. Fortunately for them, the Fox family, Quakers who employed more than a thousand people locally to produce fine quality fabric and wool, agreed to help as long as the park followed certain guidelines:

“What is wanted most is a place in a convenient and pleasant situation, planted and laid out in lawns and flower beds and well supplied with seats … [it] shall be under the constant supervision of a resident caretaker and shall not be used as a playground, or as a playing field, for older children and adults.”

The park still upholds these values today.

The garden, which opened in 1903, was planned by the celebrated German landscape architect, F W Meyer, and is a fine example of late Victorian garden design. The site is compact (4.5 acres) yet contains open lawns, stunning flowerbeds, specimen trees, a wonderful rockery and pond and even a bandstand and a caretaker’s cottage. The rockery is an example of the care taken in the construction of the garden. Meyer would not allow cement to be used because its colour, when wet, would not fit in with the natural shades of the limestone, so eighty tons of rock from Westleigh were cut into irregular blocks, and water piped in from the town stream to create a water feature and pond. A stone ha-ha was built to form a boundary which would still allow uninterrupted views over the open countryside towards the west.

In 2000, Wellington Park underwent a major restoration programme funded by Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery fund and today the gardens, maintained by Taunton Deane, are open to all during daylight hours. Plant-loving visitors will find much to enjoy here; the borders are planted with shrubs but each year the ornamental beds are planted with over 48,000 spring and summer bedding plants. Many of the plantings follow the original plans by Meyer himself, including four species of rhododendron; R.ferrugineum, R.hirsutum, R.Myrtifolium and R.Wilsoni. Various species of berberis, Cytisus purpureus ‘Incarnatus’ (purple broom), Euonymus fortunei Radicans, Juniperus Sabina, Taxus baccata (common yew and T.Doyastoni (Westfelton yew) were also planted. The edge of the flower garden is marked by a line of iron posts linked by chains, with gaps left for access. Ivy has been trained along the chains to make a growing swag fence.

Wellington Park is shaded by many different kinds of trees, including an impressive row of plane trees (Plutanus Acerfolia) on the eastern avenue that replaced the original which had to be taken down in 1908 when they grew too large. The lawns are home to some remarkable old trees including a large Liquidamber and a Golden Conifer (Thuja Plicata) and a splendid Weeping Willow hangs over the pond. Pollarded lime trees are planted into the gravel around the bandstand and two massive oaks stand near the war memorial – one of them still there since Harry Fox planted it in 1902 to celebrate the opening of the park.

As well as the plants themselves, the buildings in the park are also of considerable interest and are mostly unchanged since 1902. The bandstand and caretaker’s cottage were built in a Spanish Colonial style which was popular in the United States at the time. The bandstand is still used for musical events in the park. The old drinking fountain is no longer in use, because of changing hygiene regulations, but is a reminder of the time when it would have been an essential amenity to the park. Visitors may also have the chance to see a large range of wildlife, from foxes and voles to wagtails, tree creepers and even the occasional heron visiting the pond.

Wellington Park, with its pleasing contrasts of formal bedding set against the informal rockeries and winding pathways, is well worth a visit. Why not buy some local Somerset cheese from Wellington’s famous shop and enjoy a picnic in this wonderful Edwardian park?

Address:

Wellington Park
Courtland Road
Wellington, GB
Somerset
Tel:01823 336344
Email: parks@tauntondeane.gov.uk
Website: Taunton Deane

Owner/Management:
Taunton Deane Borough Council
Contact person: Steve Cuthill, Community Parks Officer

Opening times:
8am – Dusk

Admission price:
Entry to the park is free. Fees apply for putting, bowls, tennis and golf course.

Events, exhibitions:
Events organised every Sunday in summer by The Friends of Wellington Park.

Customer services:

  • Shop:None on site.
  • Tea Room/ Restaurant: None on site. Wellington Park is only a five minute walk from Wellington Town centre.
  • WC: Full facilities onsite including baby changing.
  • Parking: Nearest car park opposite Beechgrove Primary School, adjacent to the park. Other town centre car parks can easily be used.
  • Seats and benches – location frequency:: Plentiful shaded benches dotted around the park. Covered seating area in the south-east corner.
  • Average visitor duration: 15 – 45 minutes.
  • Accessibility – in the park/ garden from the car park:Wellington Park is relatively flat and smooth, tarmac footpaths lead visitors around the garden. Dogs are welcome.

Children’s programme/ events or other educational activities::
Information boards are geared towards younger eyes. The Friends of Wellington Park events on Sundays are organised firmly with families in mind.

Maps of sites/ visitor information etc:
Two information boards in the park highlight the topography, features and history of the park.

Transport:

  • By road:Wellington is situated on the A38 south of Taunton, just a few miles from J26 on the M5.
  • By train:The nearest train station to Wellington is Taunton.
  • By Bus:Regular buses run from Taunton.