Clifton Park & Vyvyan Terrace

Clifton Park & Vyvyan Terrace

The garden here sits between Clifton Park and Vyvyan Terrace. The Grade II* listed terrace was named after Sir Richard Vyvyan, who was the Tory MP for Bristol in 1832. It was built piecemeal between 1838 and 1847, and became known as ‘Clifton’s most ambitious terrace’.

The architect conceived of the terrace in the form of a palace, with an Ionic colonnade of eight large columns in the centre. The end pavilions have attached columns and odd bowed balconies.

The garden was laid out in the 1840’s and was known as the Clifton Park Garden.

Communal gardens were for the use of the houses surrounding them as a place of relaxation and perambulation. Vyvyan Terrace had small yards at the rear probably used only for clothes drying and by servants. The owners enjoyed the exclusive use of the Garden, which was laid with trees, shrubs, seats and paths (which in 1917 it was proposed to asphalt “to save the cost of weeding”).

By 1917 the cost of tending the Garden – one gardener at 8/6d a day – was £13.00 per annum plus £10 for trimming trees. The wood from these trimmed trees was voluntarily cut up by boys from Clifton College and donated to the Clifton Zoo. There was also the matter of painting the railings which had to be done every few years and in 1917 cost £10, rising to £28.10 in 1925. With the upkeep of the Garden rising every year, the Committee decided that other residents in the locality could become members as “an act of grace” on payment of a subscription.

In 1923 it was suggested that a tennis court be laid at the west end but it was later reported that there was “no substantial support” for this scheme.

Early in 1940 the railings were removed as a contribution to the war effort, although it is likely that they and all the other Clifton railings collected were found unsuitable for armaments and never used. This left many communal and private gardens very vulnerable. Luckily this Garden had an established collection of mature trees, many by this time 100 years old, so damage was minimal. Following 35 years of temporary railings the Garden Committee in the early 1980’s decided they would raise money for proper railings to be reinstated. During the next ten years they embarked on fund raising ( it cost £7000 alone to have the finials alone cast and installed ) and in 1992 the railing were finally complete once more.

In 2011 the Clifton Park Vyvyan Terrace Gardens Association commissioned a horticultural report from The Hegarty Webber Partnership which in 2012, with generous support from the Gardens membership, led to a new planting scheme, development of wild gardens and improved hedging. In 2018 we repainted all the railings and our newest tree ( Amelanchier arborea “Robin Hill” ) was planted this spring to help bring more blossom and autumn leaf colour to the gardens.

The garden is maintained by the residents and has some fine trees.