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University garden recognised as one of the world’s best green spaces

Royal Fort House and gardens

Press release issued: 13 August 2019

For the fourth year running, a public garden at the University of Bristol has been recognised as one of the very best in the world by the Green Flag Award Scheme.

The award recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the globe and a green flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Nestled in the heart of the city within the University campus, the historic Royal Fort Garden, is loved by students and visitors for its rolling green banks, wildflower meadow, biodiverse pond and shade-giving trees which fall against the backdrop of the grand Royal Fort House where the Cabot Institute for the Environment is based.

In addition to the flora and fauna, the mirror maze called 'Follow Me' is a popular attraction. It was designed by internationally recognised artist Jeppe Hein to mark the University's centenary in 2009.

A more recent addition is 'Hollow' – an intricate structure, described as a modernist grotto, made from 10,000 wood samples collected from across the world. It was created by Katie Paterson, made in collaboration with architects Zeller & Moye, and unveiled in 2016.

This international award is run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and the University's garden is among a record-breaking 1,970 UK parks and green spaces to receive the prestigious accolade. 104 of which have been awarded in the South West of England. Globally, Royal Fort Garden is one of 131 green spaces in thirteen other countries to be awarded a Green Flag this year.

University of Bristol Arboriculture & Horticultural Manager, Kevin Stuckey, said: "We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for the 4th year. It’s a great recognition of the dedication and enthusiasm that the garden and grounds team, volunteer students and wider staff involvement have provided to enhance and maintain Royal Fort Gardens to such a high standard over the last year.

"We know how much quality green spaces matter to our students, staff, visitors and the local community, and this award celebrates what make the gardens such a joy and relaxing place to visit."

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: "It's fantastic that we have more Green Flag Awards in the UK than ever before, joined this year by 131 International winners.

"Each flag honours the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. We congratulate each and every winner on their fantastic achievement."

Further information

The history of Royal Fort Garden

It was originally known as Windmill Fort, located at the top of St Michael's Hill, before the Royalists captured Bristol and Dutch military engineer Sir Bernard de Gomme redesigned it.

It was the strongest defence in Bristol and acted as the Western headquarters for the Royalist army under Prince Rupert of Rhine, the 23-year-old commander of the Royalist cavalry.

Prince Rupert surrendered to Oliver Cromwell and Lord Fairfax in 1645, with the fort being demolished in 1655.

The wealthy Tyndall family, who established Bristol's first bank, acquired the land to build a sizeable new house with generous gardens.

The current three-storey villa was built between 1758 and 62 for Thomas Tyndall, a wealthy Bristol merchant, and his young wife Alicia. Its three facades in three different classical styles - Baroque, Palladian and Rococo - were a compromise after three separate architects submitted designs.

A later Tyndall generation called in the landscape designer, Humphry Repton, to screen their 'pleasure grounds' from urban sprawl after a disastrous housing scheme fell through. Repton's original drive and planting around the house have recently been reinstated.

The Tyndall family lived there until 1916, when the house and grounds were bought by Henry Herbert Wills, who later donated it to the University of Bristol.

About the Green Flag Awards Scheme

The Green Flag Awards Scheme is run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, under licence from the Department of Communities and Local Government, in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful, Keep Wales Tidy and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and the National Housing Federation.

Keep Britain Tidy is a leading environmental charity. We inspire people to be litter-free, to waste less and to live more. We are run programmes including Eco-Schools, the Green Flag Award for parks and green spaces and the Blue Flag/ Seaside Awards for beaches.

Any green space that is accessible to the public is eligible to enter for a Green Flag Award.  Awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag status.  A Green Flag Community Award recognises quality sites managed by voluntary and community groups. Green Heritage Site accreditation is judged on the treatment of the site's historic features and the standard of conservation. 

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