This Baroque-style collection of pools, cascades, basins and a canal disappeared beneath undergrowth and silt through the twentieth century. The gardens were largely forgotten until a major restoration programme brought them back to their former glory.
The Water Gardens are open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to dusk.
They are also open on Bank Holiday Mondays, but then closed on the following day. They are open on Christmas Day.
A brief history of the Upper Lodge Water Gardens
Built by the 1st Earl of Halifax as a private recreational garden in 1710, the Water Gardens went on to play a unique role in twentieth-century events. They were used as a hospital for Canadian troops in the First World War, then as swimming pools as part of an open air school for East End Boys with respiratory diseases.
During the Second World War, the site was used as US barracks. It was then taken over by the Ministry of Defence, and played a significant role in the development of Cold War defence technology. The site then fell into disrepair and remained closed.
After a major restoration programme, the gardens opened in 2010.
Restoring the Upper Lodge Water Gardens
Restoration plans began in the 1990s, with research by the Friends of Bushy and Home Parks, and the discovery by Sir Roy Strong of an eighteenth-century painting of the gardens.
The gardens later became the centrepiece of a Bushy Park improvement project, with additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Crown Estate and other supporters.
The restoration included:
- Desilting and returning the ponds to their original shape and depth
- A new water engineering system to restore the direct connection to the Longford River
- Rebuilding the badly-damaged southern flank cascade wall, and reincorporating original stonework and bricks into the new structure
- Restoring the cascade and northern flank wall
- Reconstructing the original stoop basins and alcoves
New landscaping and footpaths completed the transformation of the gardens.