The delightful Swiss Garden was created in the 1820’s by Lord Ongley. It covers approximately 3.7 hectares and is open to the public through the Shuttleworth Trust. The design was renovated and added to by Joseph Shuttleworth in the 1870’s and it was saved from dereliction by Bedfordshire County Council in the 1970’s and 80’s. Liz Lake Associates was appointed to prepare the current set of renovation plans for landscape elements to form part of applications for planning permission and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
The Garden is full of raised earthworks, mounds and hollows, ponds and islands. These are complemented by thirteen listed buildings and structures and a large collection of mature trees, rhododendrons and interesting shrubs. It was important that the proposals improved the visitor experience whilst retaining the intimate sense of a private garden that the historic design encompasses. Working with Debois Landscape Survey Group & Haydens Arboricultural Consultants, Liz Lake Associates undertook archival work, a full survey of the trees and other planting and prepared proposals for restoration, access for all paths, a new education facility and entrance.
In 2012 planning permission was obtained for the restoration proposals and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for £2.8 million was awarded to the trust. Implementation work started in 2013 and in just 18 months the garden has been taken back 134 years, to the moment when Shuttleworth completed his restoration of Ongley’s garden. You can see how the site was restored by visiting the website, there are some very interesting videos regarding the restoration.