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Devon Italianate gardens to be restored to Victorian splendour

The property was the home of the Buller family until the 1930s. It became a hotel in the 1950s and a school (Gramercy Hall School) until its closure in 2004 when it was abandoned until it was taken over last year by the Lupton Trust to regenerate the house and gardens and develop it as a community enterprise village with buildings let to charities.

Kim Auston, English Heritage landscape architect, said: "These gardens are particularly interesting as a rare survivor of an Italianate design in Devon and were recorded in a painting by one of Queen Victoria’s favourite artists.

"The design complements the front of the house and it is unusually innovative in its use of cast iron detailing in the fountain, fences and other features.

"The garden is now at a key point in its history when major intervention is needed to secure it for the local community and future generations."

Janet Howard, of the Lupton Trust, said: "We are delighted to receive this grant from English Heritage  The community interest in the garden has been overwhelming, we have had several teams of young people working on the garden, including The Prince’s Trust, Groundwork, BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) and all generations of the local community. It is inspiring to see such passion"

Although the origins of the garden are unknown, they are thought to date fro the 1840s. Italianate gardens first became popular in the 1820s but began to fall out of favour in the 1870s as high costs and new fashions took over.

The grant will be used to carry out detailed surveys and repair of the garden and its remaining structures, including historical research into the garden’s original development and the repair of the aviary – an octagonal building which has been unused and neglected for at least 20 years.

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