A Little Further Afield… Bridge End Garden, Saffron Walden

Bridge End Garden was created around 1840 by Francis Gibson, a local Quaker businessman who also built the Fry Art Gallery. Francis’ daughter Elizabeth married Lewis Fry of Bristol and in 1918 the Fry family leased the Garden to the local council. It has been open to the public ever since.

Over time, Bridge End Garden fell into neglect. An ambitious restoration project took place between 2003 and 2008. The Garden is now Grade II* Registered.

Bridge End Garden is a popular spot for visitors and is the perfect place for a summer picnic or to provide a quiet escape from modern life. Theatre, music and the Maze Festival are regular features within the garden.

Since 2010, the Garden has been managed by Saffron Walden Town Council, with support from the Friends of Bridge End Gardens, a charity formed to support the restoration, management and future development of the Garden.

Francis Gibson designed the Garden as a series of interlocking ‘rooms’, each with its own unique character.

Geometric swirls of box and closely clipped yew form a sunken parterre in the Dutch Garden, best seen from the viewing platform or the long walks. It was replanted to the design sketched by Gertrude Jekyll when she visited in 1912. The long border, fronted by standard wisteria trees, is a vibrant backdrop in summer.

The Wilderness is a shady grove, designed for wandering and reflection, with trained laburnums down the centre.

An octagonal summerhouse nestles beneath an old cedar on the Summerhouse Lawn which is surrounded by leafy beds of mature shrubs and trees.

The formal Rose Garden is planted with Victorian varieties and is the oldest part of the Garden.

Behind the Rose Garden is Jacob’s Well, thought to be the original cistern feeding the fountain in the Dutch Garden. An archway leads back to the Dutch Garden and the secluded Poet’s Corner.

The Walled Garden houses two reconstructed glasshouses and contains Victorian varieties of espalier and cordon-trained fruit trees, together with colourful herbaceous borders. The Visitor Centre and toilets were opened in 2015 and are located within the Walled Garden.

The Hedge Maze was replanted in 1984 with over a thousand young yews. In its centre is a
viewing platform. The Maze is surrounded by native and ornamental trees.

Who knew that Saffron Walden contained such a treasure at its heart? The garden is well worth a visit!

Cost: Free
Journey Time from Royston: 25 minutes
Information from
Bridge End Garden, Saffron Walden CB10 1HR
Always open except Christmas Day