Introduction

Since 1971, Harlaxton Manor has been the home to Harlaxton College, part of the University of Evansville in Indiana, USA.

As we celebrate the first 50 years of Harlaxton College, and the University’s stewardship of Harlaxton Manor, we look to the future. The Walled Garden Project is a key element of our plan to capture the potential of Harlaxton to ensure the next 50 years of growth by building on the mutually-beneficial relationship between our core education and heritage activities.

The Walled Garden Project has four key themes and desired outcomes:

  • Honouring our Heritage
  • Creating New Academic Space
  • Inviting the Community to be a part of our Past and Future
  • Strength and Stability

Ultimately, our vision is to provide an accessible visitor experience, delivering business, cultural, community, educational, environmental, economic, heritage, and social and health benefits.

We look forward to sharing more information about the Walled Garden Project at Harlaxton Manor in the coming months.

History, Heritage & Legacy

Arial view of the walled garden.

Set away from the house, the late-19th century Walled Garden, which is 4 acres and Grade II* listed, is amongst the largest and most unique in Britain.

Gregory Gregory was immensely proud of his walled garden. He eschewed traditional walled garden design and championed the art, science, and craft of gardening. He insisted that his walled garden should test a series of innovations such as polygonal walls and compartments to capture the sun, heated walls, and heated and ventilated greenhouses all designed to create microclimates suitable for growing exotic fruits such as vines, pineapples, peaches, apricots, and cucumbers.

“The kitchen gardens are … unlike any others to be found in Britain. The walls alone cost £10,000, and are extraordinary examples of masonry.”

Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener (April 1875)

We believe our plans to restore the walled garden, create a unique multi-purpose student education centre, and establish a visitor attraction, are similarly innovative and ambitious. We seek to build on Gregory Gregory’s legacy and create a compelling vision for Harlaxton as we look forward to the next 50 years of growth.

Project Description

Arial view of the walled garden.

Taking inspiration from Gregory Gregory, we will restore the Walled Garden to productive use with an emphasis on education and community participation.

The project focuses on two areas: Gregory Court and Walled Gardens.

Gregory Court

Artist rendering of Gregory Court in the Walled Garden.

The creation of a shared space in the northern area of the walled garden which will be used simultaneously by our students and visitors. It will include two key components:

  • Regeneration of the existing buildings, including the Gardener’s Cottage, outbuildings and glasshouses into education, visitor engagement, retail spaces, and a café/restaurant. We will bring these historic and architecturally-important buildings back into use and upgrade them to meet environmental and sustainable design standards and provide accessible access.
  • Creation of a new Innovation Hub to provide education, changemaking and social spaces for our students, together with external performance and exhibition spaces for our students and the wider public. The design of the Innovation Hub draws inspiration directly from the original use of this area of the walled garden which was a proving ground for growing plants from seeds and where plants were bred to achieve new hybrids with more desirable characteristics. The Innovation Hub incorporates the remaining glasshouse, exposes the beautiful original walls, and is based on the layout of the original horticultural glasshouses. The materials will be complementary to the current walled garden and the design will be environmentally led, with sustainability being at the forefront of how the buildings are built and managed.

Walled Gardens

Artist rendering of the walled gardens.

Over time the walled garden at Harlaxton has fallen out of use but the walls and other structures that remain and are in very good condition. The project will return these walled gardens to productive use.

The gardens will be restored to reflect the formal geometry which radiates from a point just inside the main entrance. Some compartments will contain themed gardens such as a Shakespeare Garden, Sensory Garden, and Medicinal Garden, together with an orchard and Blossom Avenue. Other compartments will contain fruit and vegetable growing areas with produce being consumed by students and visitors alike. Ornamental plants which attract bees, introduce colour, and create a sense of wonder will also be incorporated into the design. The project will include restoration of the historic walls, gates, railings, and outbuildings which will be used by gardeners and community volunteers.

The restored gardens will be open as a visitor destination but will also be used for education and events such as weddings, concerts, and exhibitions. It will create opportunities for participation by local groups, and the gardens will be designed to be inclusive and accessible, and provide year-round interest to both our students, our local community and the wider public.

Accessibility and Inclusion

A major goal of the project is to increase accessibility and the diversity of our audience in general.

For example, we intend to ensure that all areas of the Walled Garden are fully accessible, and we will include various elements specifically designed for those with sensory impairments. We will include a fully-accessible play area and ensure that the Walled Garden and our extensive events and activity program are financially accessible and inclusive.

Sustainability and Environment

We are conscious that we have a responsibility to reduce our environmental impact. The Walled Garden Project will embrace sustainable design principles from the outset. Existing buildings will be retrofitted with appropriate levels of insulation and use sustainable heating, low-energy lighting and water capture techniques.

New build elements such as the Innovation Hub will be designed using best principles taking a holistic approach to the lifecycle of the building and it’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability performance. We are aiming for a ‘Very Good’ level of BREEAM assessment.

We hope to encourage sustainable forms of transport to site, maximise recycling and minimise packaging, and we hope to consume all produce from the Walled Garden within our café and student dining areas.

Our plans for the wider landscape will include enhancing biodiversity and providing opportunities for our students and the wider public to explore the interplay between the natural environment, climate, and human land use.

Wider Benefits

Artist rendering of the Walled Garden.

Our education and heritage missions are complementary and mutually supportive. By bringing the walled garden at Harlaxton Manor, one of Britain’s most significant heritage assets, to a wider audience we can simultaneously: reimagine our academic programs and enhance the student experience; provide opportunities for enhanced community engagement and participation; increase biodiversity and reduce our environmental impact; provide local employment and local business opportunities; and provide access and activities for people of all ages whose mental and physical health can be improved by connecting to nature.

This wider use will subsequently enhance the College’s existing undergraduate programs and develop new graduate and adult learning programs such as the MA in Innovative Leadership in Heritage Management. Our students will help shape the design and develop community links; after completion, various heritage, business, retail, horticultural, performance and STEM-related educational opportunities will result both at Harlaxton and via partnerships with local non-profit and community groups. In addition, the overall student experience will be enhanced through new facilities and greater engagement with the public and local community groups.

We will leverage the unique Anglo–American nature of Harlaxton to enhance social and cultural engagement within the area and develop complimentary events, activities and a lifelong learning program that provides opportunities locally, nationally, and internationally.

Ultimately, the Walled Garden Project will be a fitting milestone in the University’s stewardship of Harlaxton College. It will simultaneously celebrate the last 50 years and look forward towards a century of growth by ensuring Harlaxton remains ever more relevant and compelling to future generations of students, a resource for the local community and sustainable for the University as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the timeline for the project?

We are currently actively fundraising for the project and creating the necessary designs, surveys and reports necessary for a planning application.

  • Apply for planning permission (July 2022)
  • Construction (June 2023 – December 2024)
  • Public opening (Spring/Easter 2025)

How can I help?

We would welcome feedback on our plans together with suggestions on how we may maximise the potential of the Walled Garden as an education and community resource.

We envisage several opportunities for local community groups and volunteers to help us shape the project at an early stage, help us bring the project to life and help us achieve our vision of a restored Walled Garden which is embedded in our academic programming, serves as a local community resource, and excels as a unique visitor destination.

Please contact us if you would like to help or have suggestions or feedback.

Press Enquiries

For all press enquiries, please contact us using the contact form.

Fundraising

We are currently fundraising for the project. If you are interested in supporting the Walled Garden Project in this way, please make a donation to the University of Evansville Forward >> campaign.