All the latest news & events from the garden and the National Trust in Bath


Grotto comes under wraps

We have improved the look of shed that surrounds ‘Mrs Allen’s Grotto’. For many years now we have had a scaffold structure around the Grotto to protect the very sensitive floor inside. This shed has been looking its age for quite a while now, so we have given it a facelift,

The Grotto shed getting wrapped

The New look Grotto

wrapping it with an impression of the grotto arches and greenery behind.

Cascade landscaping

One of the final pieces of our New cascade jigsaw have been put into place. Barry, our man with a digger, has done a brilliant job of landscaping the area around our New Gothic Temple Cascade. With in minutes he magically transformed the area from a building site to a great landscape. Now all we need is the Gothic Temple back! The new path to the Gothic Temple site should be complete within a week. It’s worth a visit.

By the way, if you are in the area tomorrow (Thursday 15 March) come along and help plant some Snowdrops, the more the merrier.

The Cascade area before the landscaping

The area after Barry had done his magic

The Cascade runs phase II

The after shot

At last after all this time the new mini cascade by the site of the Gothic Temple is finally running permanently. We still have some landscaping to do but the splendid little waterfall is flowing for all to see.

Before shot of the cascade


The Cascade runs

The big news is that our rebuilding of the Mini-cascade by the Gothic Temple site is nearing completion. We had our first run of water to check for leaks etc. on Tuesday and everything ran very smoothly, so it should be up and running around Christmas time or just after.
The other news is that after a couple of months away our Swans have arrived back and taken up residence in the top lake above the bridge. The Mute swans seem to do this every year, at the end of summer they go off for a break, away from the pressures of Prior Park lake life. We don’t know where they go, maybe it’s just down the road to the river Avon.In the picture You see Rodney, John and Ron our trusty building volunteers with the cascade running at reduced flow.

Prior Park on BBC Radio Bristol

Early in September, Steve Yabsley, presenter of BBC Radi0 Bristol’s weekday lunchtime show, visited the garden. Jim showed him round and told him a bit about our work in the garden, its main features and the wildlife that can be seen. Steve will be featuring Prior Park on his show every day next week between 1.30-2!

The Ice-house

Our Ice-house near the bottom lake has had a varied history. It was used at first as you would imagine as an Ice-house, keeping food for the house cool and fresh. This was done by taking ice from the lake in winter and packing it with straw which insulated it. This was then put in the Ice-house, in there it kept if frozen for a remarkably long time.

The second part of its history was during the Second World War were it was used as an ammunition and arms dump. In the event of an invasion by the enemy, the equivalent of the ‘Dad’s Army SAS’ would hide themselves in the Ice-house and cause maximum havoc for as long as they could.

The actual chamber can be seen much clearer now we have installed a new, rather splendid, Solar powered lighting system.

You can learn more about the whole history on an interpretation board near by.

The new solar powered lighting in the Ice-house

Squirrels, Green woodpeckers and lofty Herons

A quick update on what has been going on for the past couple of weeks. The work in the garden has been progressing nicely. The main emphasis being on Laurel pruning, which is drawing to an end but we still have more to do even after all this time. Plus the mini cascade down by the Gothic Temple site is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Autumn is well and truly upon us with the leaves turning, the days drawing in but the grass shows no sign of slowing down. We seemed to be constantly grass cutting this summer but surely even it needs a bit of a rest.

Meanwhile our wildlife just goes about the daily business of being. The Coots and Mallards wander about and make a lot of noise, while our Mute swans have gone off for their winter break and hopefully will return in the New Year. A Grey wagtail and Green woodpecker were feeding by the lake side, both a lovely colourful sight. The Squirrels have also been very active these past couple of days scurrying about, looking for and burying conkers and acorns.

All the while the Grey herons look on imperiously from their lofty perches keeping a superior eye on things.

One of the cheeky little Squirrels we have around the Park (picture taken last year)

New Cascade

The Tuesday volunteers have been working on clearing around the Gothic Temple for the last month. The Temple was removed to another site in the 1920’s, but we have plans to eventually replace it. In the meantime we have plans to rebuild the original cascade that went in front of the Temple verandah. The original cascade was destroyed when a large Ash tree fell down and brought half the stream bed with it. So now the long process of putting it back has begun. In the picture you can see Rodney putting the finishing touches to the dam we have built to divert the stream from where we need to work.
Keep watching this space for further updates on the New Cascade.

Rodney pounding the dam

Horton Court

Horton Court in Gloucestershire will be open to the public on Fridays and Sundays throughout July and August, having been closed for a long time. I was lucky enough to visit a couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic – very Agatha Christie murder mystery/Famous Five adventures if you have an imagination like mine. The oldest part of the house dates back to Norman times and its a real mish-mash of different styles. The local church are doing teas during opening times (1-4pm) or you could bring a picnic – ginger beer seems appropriate…

BBC coverage:


More sad news today I am afraid, as yet another cygnet has been taken, by what we do not know, but the others decided to go on another jaunt. This time they trotted off  into the pasture, looking for adventure I think.

Work has started on the Gothic Temple cascade. The trusty Tuesday volunteers have started investigating the feasibility of rebuilding the broken down cascade in front of the old Gothic Temple. It all looks very positive there. As do things in the pasture where our first Bee Orchid of the year has been spotted, along with a pyramidal Orchid. Lets hope the swans don’t eat them.