Cathedral Garden

Photographs by Sarah Crouch showing two views of the Cathedral Garden looking West (top) and East (bottom)This was originally part of the St Frideswide’s Priory precinct and became a canonry garden. An engraving of 1675 shows part of the garden, with hedged geometric beds, regularly planted trees and, to the north, a terrace walk with an arbour against the east wall.

Currently the main features of the early garden - walls and terraces - survive, although the terrace is now softened into a grassy bank and shrubs are planted along the terrace itself. 

At the eastern end is the King Charles Gate created in 1642 to allow Charles 1, while in residence at Christ Church during the Civil War, to visit his wife, Henrietta Maria, who lodged at Merton College.  The timber of the gate was found to date from around 1450, and to be of German and Baltic origin.

Door to the Deanery Garden, featured in 'Alice in Wonderland'.On the north wall is the door to the Deanery garden, featured in Alice in Wonderland, Alice being the Dean’s daughter at the time and the Cathedral Garden being the garden into which she was not allowed, and to this day the horse chestnut tree visible in the Deanery Garden on the other side of the wall, is the tree that the Cheshire Cat sat in.

The border along the Deanery wall is shortly to be replanted, with Alice related plants such as red roses, larkspur and columbine, either side of the door, together with some medicinal planting to echo the monastic origins of the garden, old fashioned scented roses, plants from St Frideswide’s tomb and lastly a touch of Harry Potter with oddities such as Belladonna, Wolfsbane and Mandrake.

The raised area at the eastern end of the garden is used annually by students to perform two or three outdoor plays in late May and early June.

Thank you to Sarah Couch for the photographs used for the main image above, and right showing two views of the Cathedral Garden looking West (top) and East (bottom).