After almost ten weeks of closure for repairs to its glazed roof, the Shuttleworth Swiss Garden’s Grade II* listed Grotto & Fernery is once again open to the public, just in time for the summer holidays!
Just over 4,280 panes of hand cut cylinder glass were used in the re-glazing of the wings and dome of this beautiful structure when the Swiss Garden was extensively restored in 2013 thanks to a £2.8 million Heritage Lottery grant. Sadly, due to the delicate nature of the cylinder glass, which is only 3mm thick, and the natural environment of the garden – falling pine cones and extreme weather incidents for example– several panes of glass were found to be damaged during structural surveys carried out in 2019.
Following a challenging year in terms of financing conservation work across our visitor attraction due to the impact of Covid-19, we were successful in a recent bid to receive funding from Historic England’s Emergency Heritage at Risk grant scheme in order to carry out this essential work. The Grotto & Fernery’s unusual shape made it necessary to involve specialist scaffolding designers to create an accessible cantilevered platform for the glazier to replace 85 broken panes on different levels of the building’s glazed areas.
This beautiful building is an integral part of the Swiss Garden’s original Regency design, and as well as being one of our licenced wedding venues, is the largest single structure in the garden. The amazing artificial rockwork (Pulhamite) tunnels inside, added by the Shuttleworth family in the late 1800s, are a real ‘wow factor’ moment – it’s not what you expect to see when you open the door!
We are very grateful to Historic England for the funding which has enabled us to repair and reopen this very special building.