Northernhay and Rougemont Gardens, Exeter

This is the oldest public space in England, originally laid out in 1612 as a ‘Pleasure Walk’. It is a Grade II open space.

The site was quarried by the Romans for stone to build the city walls. Some of the wall that still exists, is the only length of Saxon town wall to be seen in England.

The early park was destroyed in the Civil War in 1642. Northernhay underwent major re-landscaping in 1860, with a group of monuments to major Victorian figures in the city’s history. It is planted with many mature trees and impressive floral displays.

Rougemont garden was created from the Roman city wall and bank and the moat of William the Conqueror’s Rougemont Castle. The landscaping and the planting belongs to the late 18th century when Rougemont House was built. The garden was connected to Northernhay gardens when Northernhay House was demolished in the early 20th century.

These are lovely gardens but what i also found which came accross throughout the gardens was the bloodshed, the centuries of imprisonment, restrictions, and the history of violence.  Echoes and repercussions of fortified shapes in the flowerbeds. ( image DSC 3248 )

This recreational ground and meeting place with plants from all around the world is an area of learning within these walls.  The dereliction, the blood red castle, the gates and doorways, the prison and hanging bars abound. The territorial walls in histories stones, the shadows in the woodlands area and the reddening trees.

The parks are keeping the encroachment of the city at bay.  The monuments to some good people and heroes, the ‘HOPE’ for our peaceful future.

Shadows and hope are all part of our history, now its where people come to have their drinks, chats and sandwiches.



Photographs taken during 2012.

John Curno.