Hyde Abbey Garden Switches On

Celebrity gardener and TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh will be in Winchester on Monday 22nd October to switch on the lights which mark the completion of Hyde Abbey Garden.

Launched in 2003 as Winchester’s project to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the garden represents the eastern part of Hyde Abbey Church, burial place of King Alfred the Great.

The 35 low-energy, low-intensity lights have been carefully designed to provide a special atmosphere at night, similar to candle light in a church.

Funding has been raised by the Friends of Hyde Abbey Garden (FOHAG), a local community group that has worked alongside Winchester City Council to create and promote the garden.

FOHAG Chairman, Councillor Sue Nelmes, said: “We are delighted at the response from local people and organisations in the six months since we launched our fundraising campaign for the lights. The illuminated garden will be a really special place for both Winchester residents and visitors. We are very pleased that Alan Titchmarsh has taken time out of his busy schedule to help us celebrate its completion.”

The ‘switching on’ will take place at 7pm on 22nd October, and the public is invited to attend the event which will last about 30 minutes. The garden is located at the end of King Alfred Place in Hyde, adjacent to the River Park Leisure Centre car park.

The garden project began after excavations in 1999 and 2000 uncovered the long-lost remains of Hyde Abbey church, and the graves of Alfred the Great, his queen and their son in front of the high altar. Local residents were determined that the site should not be re-buried and forgotten, and commissioned internationally famous landscape architect Kim Wilkie to design a permanent memorial. The specially-designed lights will be fitted to the holly columns which mark out the major structural features of the Abbey church.

The lights have been sponsored by Rathbones, Winchester NatWest bank, the Hampshire Gardens Trust, the City of Winchester Trust, the Winchester Rotary Club and several private donors. Hampshire County Council provided a timely grant to help complete the project. Winchester City Council has also provided funding and valuable professional and technical support.