THE April meeting at Badgemore Golf Club welcomed a large group of members and four guests to hear a very interesting talk on Caversham Court Gardens from its beginnings to the present day.
The audience were told the history of the site from the time of the medieval community of Caversham.
St Peter’s Church, the 12th century rectory and a considerable amount of land were donated by the 2nd Earl of Buckingham to the Augustinian abbey of Notley where a small monastic cell was erected.
After the dissolution of the monasteries, these lands were given to Christ Church College, Oxford.
Over the next four centuries, the old rectory, which became known as Caversham Court, was occupied by some of the most influential families in the Reading area who improved the site.
The gardens were laid out on three terraces between 1660 to 1681 by Thomas Loveday as a private retreat surrounding the house.
Today the visitors can see the 17th century stables and the two-storey gazebo, built in 1663, is one of the oldest remaining examples in the country. There is also the retaining wall of St Peter’s churchyard and an 18th century crinkle crankle wall which divides the kitchen gardens and the churchyard.
During the Second World War most of the gardens were turned into allotments as part of the Dig for Victory campaign.
Now the gardens welcome people as a peaceful place to wander and sit by the Thames among some of the finest tree specimens and flower beds.
There is plenty of parking around St Peter’s Church, which backs on to the gardens with fine views of the Thames towards Reading.
The next meeting will be on May 8 with speakers from the Samaritans.
For more information, call Marion Whitaker on (01491) 628629.