Avery Hill Winter Garden

This exceptionally long and cold winter has made me appreciate the Victorian concept of a winter garden. Avery Hill Park has the second largest winter garden in the UK after the temperate house at Kew. The park itself is quite uninspiring but the winter garden with its playful statue of Hermes on top is well worth visiting. As I entered I was greeted by the mellow tones of Ella Fitzgerald. A lone gardener was enjoying the music whilst she worked.

Hermes

Hermes

As I was the only visitor she did take some time to tell me about the plants and the history. The building did suffer some wartime damage and I was shown the oldest plant in the collection. A tall palm that had grown through the broken roof back in 1947. The three-domed Winter Garden was created by Colonel North who had made his fortune from the nitrate trade in Peru and Chile. As well as recreating a little bit of tropical South America in south east London he wanted his family to enjoy exercise in inclement weather. The Mansion House not open to the public is part of the University of Greenwich.

Galatea

Galatea

The university has received some funding from the Heritage Lottery Funding for the restoration of the Winter Garden. Some restoration has already started and there are information boards with details of the full scheme. Further funding is needed to for the full project which will restore the winter garden to its full architectural grandeur. The original iron framework dates back to the 1890s. The reclining figure of Galatea, one of the goddess nymphs of the sea, is in an imposing position. Galatea can also mean “milky white” and the statue is certainly that. Galatea Reclining on a Dolphin was designed by the Italian sculptor Leopoldo Ansiglioni in 1882

Advertisements