A Somerset-based charity is launching an appeal to raise £1.5million towards the development of internationally renowned Hestercombe Gardens and to secure its future for generations to come.

In its 20th year since opening to the public, Hestercombe Gardens Trust, based in Cheddon Fitzpaine, near Taunton, is launching The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal on 21 April to help support this unique historic landscape of international importance.

The money is needed to carry out the next phase of restoration projects within the gardens and provide an endowment to secure future sustainability. Thanks to a generous private charity the first £200,000 raised will be match funded pound for pound.

Through this appeal, key areas of the gardens will be brought back to life – restoring and recreating lost features. Part of the money raised through the appeal will go towards the recreation of ‘Sibyl’s Temple’, an eighteenth-century rotunda in the Landscape Garden. Footings for a rotunda have already been established and the plan to recreate the temple from drawings and descriptions will link the design with the Great Cascade and the Gothic Alcove, both key features in Hestercombe’s Landscape Gardens, reinforcing the original design.

Other garden projects include the reinstatement of the lime tree avenue along the west side of the Formal Garden, which has been traced by old maps, plans and photographs. This avenue of trees was part of the original Lutyens design, planted between 1904-1908.

A rustic Hermitage situated overlooking the Vale of Taunton and dating to c.1755 is also to be recreated and reinstated on its original site, the foundations of which were uncovered by archaeologists only relatively recently.

Other significant developments which the money will be put towards include the recreation of an unusual garden kitchen attached to the Octagon Summerhouse, the installation of traditional wrought-iron fencing in the park, together with ongoing wildlife protection, archaeology and general planting. In the future it is also hoped that an exceptionally rare Elizabethan Water Garden will be restored – one of just a handful left in the country, adding a fourth period of history to Hestercombe’s unique collection of gardens.

Hestercombe’s historically important gardens currently display three centuries of garden design and the formal gardens have been recognised worldwide as one of the best examples of design by eminent plantswoman Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens. The attraction is proud to have been presented with the European Gardens Award in 2016 (in the category of historic restoration) and two regional awards for tourism excellence (a Gold award in the Bath, Bristol & Somerset Tourism Awards 2016 and a Silver at the South West Tourism Awards 2017)

The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal aims to restore and recreate many of the historical features originally found within the grounds and to bring their stories alive for visitors, whilst maintaining Hestercombe’s high ecological and sustainability credentials.

The appeal is the first stage of a longer-term ambition to raise £8m to develop Hestercombe even further – bringing art and the landscape together in a project resulting in the complete restoration of Hestercombe’s House and Gardens and eventually the establishment of a new garden for the twenty-first century garden, 12 artist’s studio spaces and an auditorium to seat 200.

CEO of Hestercombe, Philip White, said: “Thanks to continued support from our trustees, members, visitors, volunteers and staff, Hestercombe has been transformed over the last 20 years. We have come a long way, but there is still more to do to complete the picture.

“This is the first step on a new journey, which will take us even closer to giving current visitors and future generations a true taste of what Hestercombe looked like in its heyday whilst continuing to develop and ensure its future sustainability.”

“As a charity we rely on donations to help us care for Hestercombe and we hope people’s generosity will enable us to give back to our local community as well as playing a role as an internationally significant garden.

The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal launches with an exhibition celebrating 20 years with 20 amazing images, which runs from 22 April until 21 May, 11-5pm in Hestercombe House. The exhibition shares some of the most incredible pictures from the archives in a mini-exhibition, charting the story of Hestercombe – from designed Arcadian landscape, to its ruin and highly acclaimed incredible restoration.

Donating to the appeal is simple. You can either visit the website at www.hestercombe.com/appeal, call 01823 413923, or pick up a donation form from Hestercombe. You can also text to donate 70070 HEST20 £ adding the amount you’d like to give (up to £10). If you’d like to donate to a specific project or consider other ways to give, for example leaving a legacy, contact Hestercombe directly.