|The Nelson Garden|
|Status||Grade II* listed (structures)|
The Nelson Garden, on 13 Chippenhamgate Street, at the rear of No.18 Monnow Street, Monmouth, Monmouthshire is a 19th-century garden that was the scene of a tea party held to honour Lord Nelson in 1802. The garden is one of 24 sites on the Monmouth Heritage Trail. It is bounded on the south by the line of the medieval town wall through which it is entered via a short underground passageway. The garden is open to the public between April and September on Friday 2–4 p.m.
The walled garden was the site of a real tennis court in the 17th century and a bowling green by 1718. It then became an orchard; an example of an 18th-century hypocaust (heated) wall still survives, where fruit trees would have been 'espaliered' (trained flat) against the warm brickwork. There are traces of the stoking chamber for this wall in a neighbouring garden. Roman and Norman remains lie deep beneath the lawn.
The Nelson Garden commemorates Lord Nelson's visit to Monmouth on August 19, 1802, with Sir William and Lady Emma Hamilton on the occasion of their tour of the Wye Valley. Having been entertained at the Beaufort Arms, the party adjourned "accompanied by Colonel Lindsay to the beautiful summerhouse in his garden there to enjoy the refreshment of tea or coffee and to pass the rest of the evening in that charming retreat". Although the 'charming retreat' has vanished, in about 1840 the present Memorial Pavilion was erected, possibly to the design of George Vaughan Maddox, the Monmouth architect. Being of timber, various parts have had to be replaced over time and it is not known how much of the current structure is original. "Lord Nelson's Seat" remains an attractive feature, bearing a plaque commemorating Nelson's visit. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales describes the summerhouse as "important and unusual."
Until 1950 the managers of the adjoining Lloyds Bank maintained the garden. This changed when their families were allowed to live elsewhere, but the garden continued to be maintained by tenants of the flat, Mr and Mrs Gough, until they left in 1984. Thereafter it deteriorated, but in 1994 Sheila Thorneycroft, with the Nelson Society and Monmouth Archaeological Society, began restoration with the practical assistance of Allen Watkins of Catbrook. In 1996 the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust became involved and in 1997 set up a special restoration Committee to care for the garden. In 2001 the Committee negotiated a 10-year sub-lease from Lloyds Bank, funded conservation work on the entrance tunnel, and installed a decorative iron screen to separate the garden from the rest of the Bank property.
The garden structures, including the Pavilion, are Grade II* listed as of 27 June 1952. The Nelson Garden Preservation Trust Committee continues to manage the garden on behalf of Lloyds TSB. Their immediate aims are to establish a comprehensive historic restoration scheme with advice from Cadw with Helena Gerrish as garden design consultant, to open the garden on a regular basis as a unique asset for the people of Monmouth, and to work towards securing its future after the expiry of the current sub-lease in 2011.
- Nelson Garden visitors leaflet
- Monmouth Civic Society, Guide to the Monmouth Heritage Blue Plaque Trail, n.d., p.25
- Charles Heath, Proud Days for Monmouth, 1804
- John Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire, Penguin Books, 2000, ISBN 0-14-071053-1, pp.408
- RCAHM: Nelson Garden, Monmouth. Retrieved January 2012
- Archaeologist restore Nelson's Garden, BBC. Retrieved 20 January 2012
- Lord Nelson's Seat in Nelson's Garden, Monmouth. Retrieved January 2012
- Newman J., The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire, (2000) Penguin Books