In Januaary 2009 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) made a grant of £487,500 to Myddelton House Gardens for restoration of the kitchen garden and development of a new Visitor Centre. The E A Bowles of Myddelton House Society was asked to be the Supporting Partner in the application and was heavily involved in implementation of the project. Key input was provided over many months; in particular to the Zone information boards situated around the gardens and those in the new Visitor Centre. In all, our small group of members contributed over 2,500 hours, more than one person's working year, of their time to the project, much of it being of a specialist nature.
The Society was able to draw on many sources, including our archive, Bowles' writings and personal memories of those who knew him. Among other things, members researched Bowles' paintings at the Natural History Museum and his papers and paintings in the RHS Lindley Library as background for this project. The wealth of material had to be condensed into brief summaries for the boards, but the rest was not wasted. The Garden Audio Tour and Multimedia components contain much of it.
The Visitor Centre exhibition tells 'The Bowles Story' against a timeline of historical events. As well as the written copy, pictures for display panels were provided by our members and many of the artefacts are from our Society archives. Photographic panels in the cafe area will be updated throughout the year.
Key to the whole HLF project was the appointment of a new Head Gardener, Andrew Turvey. Members of the Committee were involved in his recruitment and that of other Senior Gardeners providing horticultural expertise necessary for their selection. The transformation of the garden since Andrew's appointment shows the choice was the right one and completion of the HLF project does not mean the end of developments in the garden.
An interesting offshoot of the research at the RHS Lindley Library occurred when members discovered the original working drawings for the unique timber trellis panels set in the wall in the Kitchen Garden. Their original appearance had not been known, though the tops could be seen in a few old photographs of the Tulip Terrace. Restoration of the trellis panels in the Kitchen Garden was not included in the HLF project, but they were considered so visually important to the garden, the Society funded their reinstatement to Bowles' design. They are now in place and are a striking feature viewed from the terrace.