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Gibberd Garden: Take a walk at the home of the architect behind Harlow New Town, Liverpool Cathedral, Heathrow Airport terminals 1-3 and Regent's Park's Central Mosque




Evening sculpture tours and picnic days are just part of the Gibberd Garden summer programme.

Harlow's historic open space – a little over seven miles from the centre of Bishop's Stortford – has reopened to visitors on Wednesdays and Sundays, from 2pm to 5pm, with special Covid-19 measures, including a booking system, in place.

Created between 1957 and 1984 by leading post-war architect Sir Frederick Gibberd, the master planner of Harlow New Town, it is acknowledged to be one of the most important 20th-century gardens in the country and is grade II listed.

The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. .Sir Frederick keeps an eye on visitors. Head of Frederick Gibberd - Gerda Rubinstein. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967238)
The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. .Sir Frederick keeps an eye on visitors. Head of Frederick Gibberd - Gerda Rubinstein. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967238)

Across nine acres sloping down to Pincey Brook, it has lawns, pools, streams and glades, a mature lime avenue, a brookside walk, a wild garden, an arboretum and a moated castle with a drawbridge.

As well as nature lovers, the garden is popular with art fans. It is dotted with what Sir Frederick called "decorative objects" ranging from architectural salvage to sculptures such as this month's featured work, Hinge, by Lancashire-born Paul Mason.

He was in his 20s when Sir Frederick – the architect of Liverpool Catholic Cathedral, Heathrow Airport terminals 1, 2 and 3 and the Central Mosque in Regent's Park – commissioned the 5ft red sandstone piece in 1977, boosting Mason's fledgeling career.

The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. .Krystal and Mikhail Williams looking at Gerda Rubinsteins' Mother and Child. (Krystal is due any day!). .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967248)
The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. .Krystal and Mikhail Williams looking at Gerda Rubinsteins' Mother and Child. (Krystal is due any day!). .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967248)

Born in Coventry, Sir Frederick was appointed master planner for Harlow New Town in 1946 and remained devoted to the town, which is regarded as his greatest achievement.

He bought the gardens site in Marsh Lane in 1957, intending to use the property there as a weekend home, but after his wife died in 1970 he remained there until his death in 1984.

He left the house, garden, sculptures and an art collection to Harlow Council for the benefit of the town's residents. The property was sold to what is now the Gibberd Garden Trust with the help of a National Lottery grant.

Evening sculpture tours at the gardens take place on fortnightly Wednesdays – July 29, August l2 and 26 – from 5.30pm for a 6pm start. With the help of an expert guide, guests can learn about the mid-20th century works, the artists and their significance.

The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. .Nina (1) and her dad Toby enjoying the Fountain by Raef Baldwin. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967160)
The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. .Nina (1) and her dad Toby enjoying the Fountain by Raef Baldwin. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967160)

The £15 per person charge for the walking tour over some rough ground includes light refreshments. Spaces are limited and booking is essential.

There will be picnic days, when the gardens will open early at noon, on all four Wednesdays in August: 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Picnics should be packed away by 2pm, but visitors can linger in the gardens until 5pm. The cost is £5 for adults (concessions £4) and £1 for children aged 5 to 16.

The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. Anna takes time out to photograph the roses. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967226)
The Gibberd Garden, Old Harlow.The gardens have re opened to visitors after enforced shut down due to Covid-19. Anna takes time out to photograph the roses. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (38967226)

Volunteer Pauline Hockley said: "We hope you enjoy your visit, as the garden is still as fascinating and beautiful as ever, thanks to our marvellous gardeners and volunteers, who have been maintaining it for you in your absence."

See all information and restrictions on the website www.thegibberdgarden.co.uk before visiting. The Gibberd Garden is at Marsh Lane, Harlow CM17 0NA.


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