For its August visit the Garden Group visited the Restoration House and gardens in Rochester. The house is an amalgamation of two medieval buildings. Situated in the heart of historic Rochester the house takes its name from the stay of King Charles II on the eve of the Restoration. Over the past few years the present owners have uncovered various parts of the decorative scheme which they believe were produced just for the King’s visit. The house alone is well worth a visit to see all the sympathetic restoration work in the house and the interesting collection of paintings and furniture. However the most fascinating part a visit to the house is to see the garden, and the substantial amount of work recently undertaken to restore some of the former splendor of the original garden.
The Garden Group visit was made especially rewarding as we had a tour led by one of the owners of the house, Robert Tucker. After giving us a detailed account of the history of the house and the restoration of the garden he took us around a one acre walled garden with its interlinked walled and hedged rooms on several levels encompassing borders, large boxwood parterre and long Portland stone pond - based on the design of a Queen Anne mirror (cleverly designed to prevent Herons eating the fish!). Overlooking the parterre was a huge Catalpa tree, which we were told occasionally, sheds a branch but not fortunately when we visited!
The high point of the visit was entering the newly restored Renaissance garden. Reestablishing this garden took scrupulous attention to the archeology and repair of a grade 1 listed Tudor wall. The recreation of this part of the garden has been a labour of love by the owners and even includes a brick Gazebo, terraces and fountains. Viewing the garden from one of the newly recreated terraces was certainly well worth the journey to Rochester!