While you walk around and enjoy the garden, have you ever wondered about its history? Much history has been lost or forgotten and we are trying to piece it together again. This is what we know now.
Markwick Gardens were formed primarily for the use and pleasure of the residents of Markwick Terrace, some of which was built in the 1860-70s. At that time, the land was owned by the Eversfield Trust and all householders had to pay a guinea a year subscription. This had risen to £2.50 in 1976. With the present individual subscription of £53, it hasn’t gone up much, has it?
The Trust supplied two gardeners and paid for all work. At the edge of the gardens on Brittany Road is the old head gardener’s house, which must have been built circa 1900. Within this garden are extensive foundations of greenhouses, now buried just below the surface of the lawn.
Sheila Kaye Smith, the author and novelist who lived at 9 Dane Road from 1887 to 1924, grew up in the area and used the gardens as a setting for one of her books, “Selina is Older”, which gives a good insight into what the gardens were like at that time.
A big jump now to the Second World War when at the beginning of hostilities there were seven gardeners. There were railings surrounding the entire border which were taken for smelting into guns. During the war a German bomber tried to hit Markwick Terrace but the bomb fell short into the gardens near the main gate. The explosion damaged the Terrace, mainly number 11, which is still minus its canopy.
After the war the gardeners did not return and the gardens fell into disrepair. In the 1960s there was an unsuccessful attempt to have a school built on the site. The gardens are now thankfully part of a conservation area.
In the 1987 storm, about 20 Scots Pines were blown down, including 16 along the edge of Markwick Terrace where only one stands there now. There were several clearing up parties after the storm, with potatoes baked in the bonfires, homemade ginger beer and ale after the work had finished.
Recently a well was uncovered and recovered near the pampas grass. This was probably dug as a water source for the garden’s plants before the mains water tap was installed.
Since the war the gardens have been run by a committee of local residents.
That’s about it folks. Much of the historical material was lost in the 1970s. If any reader knows any detail, how ever small, please, please let us know.
If you have anything from photographs, drawings, plans, newsletters, stories, notes etc., we would like to hear from you.