Grounds & Gardens

Churchill College’s grounds and gardens are one of Cambridge’s best kept secrets.

Forthcoming book Discover our gardens

Grounds & Gardens

Churchill College’s grounds and gardens are one of Cambridge’s best kept secrets.

Forthcoming book Discover our gardens

Introduction

Churchill College’s grounds and gardens are one of Cambridge’s best kept secrets. Covering a 42-acre site, the original design was drawn up in the early 1960s by the landscape architect Shelia Haywood, who used planting for foliage and form—creating landscapes with borders surrounding buildings rather than traditional gardens. The grounds and gardens have evolved over the years but they still retain the integrity of the original planting.

The first trees on site, a Quercus robur (oak) and a Morus nigra (black mulberry), were planted by the College’s Founder, Sir Winston Churchill, on 17 October 1959.  The Morus nigra was devastated in 1994 when heavy foliage and inclement weather caused it to fall to the ground.  But it has since re-grown and like the oak, it is a magnificent specimen.   These trees were joined in 2009 by a Morus alba ‘Pendula’ (white mulberry) which was planted by Sir Winston’s daughter, Mary Soames, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the trees that were planted by her father.  These three trees are all thriving.

There are now some seven hundred trees across the site. The College is very proud of its tree collection, which includes both British natives along its boundary line and exotic and unusual trees elsewhere. Of particular interest are the majestic Metasequoia glyptostroboides  (Dawn Redwood),  Paulownia tomentosa (Foxglove tree), Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief tree), Liriodendron tulipifera  (Tulip tree) and the Catalpa bignonioides (Indian bean tree).

Since 1996 the College has been carrying out extensive redevelopment work as many of the original plants had become overgrown.  However, it continues to work within the spirit of the original design as set out by Sheila Haywood in the early 1960s although it has also taken the opportunity to develop new areas. Of particular note is the new Winston Churchill Border, the summer herbaceous borders, and in spring, the stunning display of some 20,000 daffodils near the Chapel at Churchill College.

The College has been grateful for the donations it has received over the years, from individual trees and plants through to the establishment of an orchid collection in a new glasshouse, and the creation of a mini arboretum. The Xiaotian Fu garden will honour a series of generous gifts pledged to the College by Ms Xiaotian Fu (G06) and will provide an environment for peaceful academic work and tutorial meetings in the summer months.

Today the grounds also provide a perfect setting for the impressive modern sculpture around the site.   

John Moore, Head of Grounds & Gardens

John Moore, Head of Grounds & Gardens

The Grounds and Gardens of Churchill College

Paula Laycock (former Registrar) and John Moore (Head of Grounds & Gardens) are writing a book about the development of the College’s grounds and gardens from the work of the first landscape architect, Sheila Haywood, in the early 1960s and the original planting schemes through to changes in the present day.

Grounds & Gardens news 

History of our grounds & gardens

Paula Laycock, College Records Officer

Paula Laycock, College Records Officer

 

Discover

Designed for foliage and form, our gardens provide year round interest in peaceful surrounds with courtyards, large open spaces and specimen trees.

Areas of interest

Find out more about the many different areas that make up Churchill's 42 acres of grounds & gardens.

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Sir Winston Churchill border

In 2010 the College arranged for a special rose to be bred as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

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Orchids

The College currently has over 80 different orchids growing in its glasshouse.

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History of our grounds & gardens

How our gardens and vast expanse of playing fields were first developed.

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Flickr album

See the latest photos of a selection of our plants and trees in our Flickr album.

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News and blog

Stay up to date with the latest news and articles from the Grounds & Gardens team

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News and blog

Stay up to date with the latest news and articles from the Grounds & Gardens team

Read the latest news

Visiting

Visitors to the College’s grounds and gardens are welcome throughout the year.

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Head of Grounds & Gardens

National Gardens Scheme

The College also opens its gardens under the National Gardens Scheme each year.

The next Open Garden Day will be in April 2017.

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