Bridge End Garden was created around 1840 by Francis Gibson, a local Quaker businessman who also built the Fry Art Gallery. Francis’ daughter Elizabeth married Lewis Fry of Bristol and in 1918 the Fry family leased the Garden to the local council. It has been open to the public ever since with entrances off Castle Street, Bridge Street and by the Cricket Field. The Garden is open, free to the public, all year except Christmas Day. The Walled Garden and Hedge Maze are currently closed due to social distancing issues.
Over time, Bridge End Garden fell into neglect. An ambitious restoration project took place between 2003 and 2008. The Garden is registered as Grade II* by Historic England.
You can learn more about the history and restoration in the Visitor Centre, located in the Walled Garden.
Bridge End Garden is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. There are many benches spread throughout the Garden and it is the perfect place for a summer picnic or to provide a quiet escape from modern life.
Theatre, music and the Maze Festival are regular features within the garden. The Walled Garden is available to hire for wedding receptions.
Since 2010, the Garden has been managed by Saffron Walden Town Council, with support from the Friends of Bridge End Gardens, a charity formed to support the restoration, management and future development of the Garden. The friends welcome newcomers and volunteers to join them. Details are available from Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre.
Francis Gibson designed the Garden as a series of interlocking ‘rooms’, each with its own unique character.
Geometric swirls of box and closely clipped yew form a sunken parterre in the Dutch Garden, best seen from the viewing platform or the long walks. It was re-planted to the design sketched by Gertrude Jekyll when she visited in 1912. The long border, fronted by standard wisterias, is a vibrant backdrop in summer. Terminating the long walkway above the sunken parterre is a classical Pavilion.
The Wilderness is a shady grove, designed for wandering and reflection, with trained laburnums down the centre, abundant spring flowers and a variety of Victorian shrubs planted throughout.
An octagonal summerhouse, the perfect backdrop to a picnic, nestles beneath an old cedar on the typically English Summerhouse Lawn which is surrounded by leafy beds of herbaceous perennials, mature shrubs and trees.
The formal Rose Garden is planted with Victorian varieties and is the oldest part of the Garden. Though short lived, the blooming season is a wonder to the senses!
Behind the Rose Garden is Jacob’s Well, thought to be the original cistern feeding the fountain in the Dutch Garden. An archway leads back to the Dutch Garden and the secluded Poet’s Corner.
The Walled Garden houses two reconstructed glasshouses and contains Victorian varieties of espalier and cordon-trained fruit trees, together with colourful herbaceous borders and the bee hives that help to pollinate the blooms.
The hedge Maze, beyond the Walled Garden, was re-planted in 1984 with over a thousand young yews. In its centre is a viewing platform with views over the Maze and the countryside. The Maze is surrounded by native and ornamental trees.
Baby changing facilities
Coach parties accepted
Dogs not accepted (except guide dogs)
Guided tours for groups (by arrangement and payment to the Friends of Bridge End Garden)
Wedding receptions (by arrangement with Saffron Walden Town Council)
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors- 1. Community Benefit, 2. Project of the Year 2008