Belfast Telegraph

£375k facelift to restore Florence Court's Kitchen Garden to its former glory

 

Florence Court
Florence Court
Kitchen Garden volunteers Stephanie Day and Agnes Treacy
Head gardener David Corscadden and general manager Jim Chestnutt
Florence Court in 1955
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

An 18th century country mansion has received a £375,000 cash boost.

The funding has been allocated to Florence Court, the National Trust's historic property in Co Fermanagh.

It will be used to restore the estate's Kitchen Garden to its 1930s character.

The cash boost has come from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project will see the reinstatement of two glasshouses on the footprint of the original structures, revealed in archaeological excavations carried out by the National Trust in 2014.

One of the new glasshouses will be dedicated to horticultural production.

The second will provide a sheltered space for volunteer learning and community use.

The garden will also be returned to full horticultural production in accordance with its historic planting schemes.

Jim Chestnutt, general manager for the National Trust in Fermanagh, said he was delighted with the funding.

"We want to attract and involve the community and volunteers with their heritage through the restoration of Florence Court's historic two-acre Kitchen Garden by reinstating the two glasshouses demolished in the 1970s and the horticultural restoration of the planting schemes," Mr Chestnutt explained."The funding will also provide vital support for the delivery of an exciting activities programme to engage a far-reaching and diverse audience with this special place."

Work on the project is expected to take around two years.

Florence Court is the creation of three successive generations of the Cole family, who were powerful Fermanagh landowners with roots in the plantations of the 17th century.

The foundations were laid by Sir John Cole, who romantically named the house after his wife, Florence Bourchier Wray.

At peak production, from the late 1890s up to the Second World War, 12 full-time gardeners worked in the Kitchen Garden, the produce from which provided food for the house and the wider estate.

The garden and glasshouses fell into decline following the departure of the last head gardener in 1947.

In 1995 the walled garden was transferred into the care of the National Trust, which recreated the Upper Rose Garden and restored the apple orchard.

The new project is described as providing an opportunity for both the community and volunteers to engage with their local heritage.

Bosses hope volunteering will grow and help establish Florence Court's Kitchen Garden as a vibrant and sustainable community hub.

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