I first glimpsed Hillfield Gardens in London Road, Gloucester whilst on the bus from Cheltenham to Gloucester. An intriguing site the Gardens were originally created for the grounds of a Victorian house, built in 1867-9 in an elaborate and stylish Italianate style to replace an earlier house, built in 1826, known as Woodbine Hill.
The house itself is now Gloucester City Council offices, following a variety of different uses, mainly residential, over the years. It is still possible to enjoy the gardens, typically Victorian in style, which became public in 1933 and are now a well founded woodland walk and rose garden. And there are still several interesting structures to be found there. First is the chancel of St Mary Magdalene Chapel, all that now remains of the former leper hospital of St Mary Magdelene, built in the 12th century.
Incongruous in such a relatively modern setting, the monuments are valued locally as an integral part of the public park. The general condition of the park has also been much improved recently. Overgrown shrubbery areas have been cut back, and the enclosed rose garden opened up to encourage public use, while an overgrown rockery has been cleared and replanted. Council contractors maintain the flower beds while a ‘Friends’ group oversees the planting of shrubs, ferns, perennials and bulbs in the cleared areas. Hillfield Gardens is a gem of a site, a small haven of peace on the outskirts of a bustling city.