View all news

Royal Fort Garden named among the best in Britain

Press release issued: 7 August 2018

Public gardens by the University of Bristol Cabot Institute have been awarded a Green Flag Award – an accolade which officially makes it one of the best green spaces in the country.

Royal Fort Garden, tucked away between Tyndall Avenue and University Walk, is among a record-breaking 1,883 parks and green spaces to receive the accolade from Keep Britain Tidy. It's one of only three in the Bristol area, alongside Windmill Hill City Farm and Snuff Mills.

The award, now celebrating its 22th year, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.

Royal Fort Garden began life as a Civil War fortification created to defend the city in the 17th century. It's now a popular relaxation spot, with the grand Royal Fort House providing a backdrop to the gardens which feature popular pieces of public art alongside a pond, trees and biodiverse habitats.

In addition to the flora and fauna, the mirror maze called 'Follow Me' is a popular attraction. It was designed by internationally recognised artist Jeppe Hein to mark the University’s centenary in 2009.

A more recent addition is 'Hollow' – an intricate structure, described as a modernist grotto, made from 10,000 wood samples collected from across the world. It was created by Katie Paterson, made in collaboration with architects Zeller & Moye, and unveiled in 2016.

The hot pink, colour-changing 'Thermo Gromit' currently resides in the garden as part of the Gromit Unleashed 2 public art trail.

Royal Fort Garden also boasts a wildflower meadow which was planted as part of the 'My Wild University' project and efforts to boost the number of pollinators.

Alan Stealey Head of External Estates said: "We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for the third year in a row.

"It's testament to the hard work of our team and their ongoing efforts to make Royal Fort Garden an inviting and relaxing place for staff, students and the public to enjoy.

"We hope people from across the city will come along and see for themselves why it’s been awarded a Green Flag – and do some Gromit spotting while they’re here!"

Further information

The history of Royal Fort Garden

It was originally known as Windmill Fort, located at the top of St Michael's Hill, before the Royalists captured Bristol and Dutch military engineer Sir Bernard de Gomme redesigned it.

It was the strongest defence in Bristol and acted as the Western headquarters for the Royalist army under Prince Rupert of Rhine, the 23-year-old commander of the Royalist cavalry.

Prince Rupert surrendered to Oliver Cromwell and Lord Fairfax in 1645, with the fort being demolished in 1655.

The wealthy Tyndall family, who established Bristol's first bank, acquired the land to build a sizeable new house with generous gardens.

The current three-storey villa was built between 1758 and 62 for Thomas Tyndall, a wealthy Bristol merchant, and his young wife Alicia. Its three facades in three different classical styles - Baroque, Palladian and Rococo - were a compromise after three separate architects submitted designs.

A later Tyndall generation called in the landscape designer, Humphry Repton, to screen their 'pleasure grounds' from urban sprawl after a disastrous housing scheme fell through. Repton's original drive and planting around the house have recently been reinstated.

The Tyndall family lived there until 1916, when the house and grounds were bought by Henry Herbert Wills, who later donated it to the University of Bristol.

About the Green Flag Awards Scheme

The Green Flag Awards Scheme is run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, under licence from the Department of Communities and Local Government, in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful, Keep Wales Tidy and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and the National Housing Federation.

Keep Britain Tidy is a leading environmental charity. We inspire people to be litter-free, to waste less and to live more. We are run programmes including Eco-Schools, the Green Flag Award for parks and green spaces and the Blue Flag/ Seaside Awards for beaches.

Any green space that is accessible to the public is eligible to enter for a Green Flag Award.  Awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag status.  A Green Flag Community Award recognises quality sites managed by voluntary and community groups. Green Heritage Site accreditation is judged on the treatment of the site's historic features and the standard of conservation. 

Edit this page