The Bohemia walled garden in Hastings is a community project, which took a crumbling Victorian walled garden and turned it into a vibrant hub for growing food and flowers, introducing children to the joys of growing vegetables, and providing community spirit.
The location has a rich history. Bohemia House was built on the site in the nineteenth century, and the vibrant and eccentric Brisco family who owned it were prominent members of the local community, with brothers serving as mayor and MP. Indeed, the house was the town hall during the war, before and after which it was a boy’s preparatory school, teaching such luminaries as the King of Jordan, Marquess of Abergavenny and Prince Rainier of Monaco. The school closed in 1966, and in 1972, the house was demolished.
The gardens remained however, and in 2009 The Bohemia Walled Garden Association was formed, and then given charity status in 20016. Its stated objectives are
- To promote for the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment;
- To advance the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment; and
- The provision of facilities for recreation and other leisure-time occupation in the interests of social welfare for the public at large with the object of improving their conditions of life.
Today, a visit can form part of a walk through the Summerfield woods nature reserve. Plots within the garden are rented for people to work and take home their produce, and there are frequent talks on history and wildlife. Not all of the available space is currently available to use, as the association is working to restore the surrounding wall and make it safe. There is a waterless toilet on site, which is wheelchair-accessible. It provides an oasis of peace for any who visit.