Kitchen Garden Project


The project began in March 2022 after the ‘Friends’ committed an allocation of funds for a special project within Constables Tower. Due to the pandemic the original plans fell through so after discussions were held with senior managers from English Heritage they offered us the chance to bring the Kitchen Garden area back into use. We duly accepted the invitation and the funds were re allocated to the restoration of the Kitchen Garden. Our Vice Chairman was appointed as Project Leader and he wasted no time in recruiting several willing volunteers to help manage the project.

The Kitchen Garden is believed to have been in existence since the late 1700’s early 1800’s when it would have been used to grow food items for the use of the Deputy Constable and his family. Although there are no official records about who worked in the garden and what was grown, one can only surmise that, as it was near the kitchens it would have been mainly fruit, salad crops and herbs. We do know that there was another area known as the Cottage Garden over the moat opposite Constables Tower. it appears that this is where main crop vegetables would have been cultivated, such as potatoes, carrots and brassicas. 

 We have been very fortunate to have as our Honorary Vice President Mrs Wendi Atherton. Wendi was resident within Constables Tower when her husband, the late Brigadier Maurice A Atherton CBE, JP, DL, DCL was appointed Deputy Constable in 1976. Wendi has helped us enormously not only with boundless energy and enthusiasm but in helping us to plant the garden with items that she could recall were in place back in the late 70’s. We cant express our gratitude to her enough.

The first 12 months of this project predominantly involved a lot of digging and weeding and setting out a plan to take the project forward. A huge effort was needed to clear the weeds and tree roots which had lain pretty much undisturbed for some 20 odd years.

During the first year we spent approximately £1900 on essential equipment, seeds, compost and gardening related items. By far the biggest proportion of our expenses was compost and soil improver which came in at around £400 for the year. We managed a couple of open days in the later part of the summer 2022 and this enabled us to gain some valuable information in respect of visitor feedback, and it also helped us to plan for the following year and setting out our plans for developing the project further.

Visitor numbers have been extremely good on the days when we have opened up the garden and feedback has been very positive and encouraging. The open days give us the opportunity to promote the benefits of membership and recruit new people and volunteers.

The Kitchen Garden is hidden behind a door, surrounded by large walls and hides access to the Rampart Walkway and Treasurers Tower, all of which are normally out of bounds. The garden naturally attracts attention when the door is open and visitors just cant help exploring the areas normally inaccessible to the public.

So to enhance the experience of visiting the Kitchen Garden we introduced a ‘Dig for Victory’ theme that ran throughout 2023, and we used authentic period props displayed strategically around the garden. We dress in authentic period costume including Women’s Land Army / Home Guard uniform, and actively engage with visitors providing historical information and demonstrating the use of the various props located around the garden and within the potting shed.  Also popular is our 1930’s gramophone player and we have had many requests to hear it play, often resulting in huge applause after Vera Lynn sings ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’. This whole theme side of the project has been hugely popular with both local and foreign visitors, and we have plans to expand providing EH are willing to support us.

Our open days during the 2023 WW2 Weekend went down extremely well and visitor numbers over the two days were well in excess of 500 people. The feed back, support and encouragement we received was quite overwhelming ! As a result we have decided to repeat the event in 2024 and work to further improve the visitor experience by adding further props and display items. Of note is the acquisition of two new authentic WW2 uniforms; a Royal Artillery Majors uniform and a Black Watch Captains uniform and several other donated period items which we will have on display. Our Vice Chairman has been busy over the winter constructing an authentic WW2 camouflage net using original netting and hemp strips, all of which has all been hand tied, a testament to the dedication of our volunteers who strive to give the visiting public the best possible experience. So if anyone would like to join us or can provide any additional authentic period props please let us know.

In August 2023 we also installed the Queens Jubilee Arbour and more recently we have added the potting shed.

The project goes from strength to strength and we have recently recruited four new volunteers to help maintain the garden, and help organise and run our open days.


Posted on

22nd April, 2024