Northernhay Gardens, Northernhay Place, EX4 3QE
Incorporating a good stretch of Roman wall and the only length of Saxon town wall to be seen in England, Northernhay Gardens are of outstanding historic significance.
The site of Northernhay Gardens was quarried in Roman times for stone from which to build the adjacent city walls. During the Norman period it formed part of the defences of Rougemont Castle. In 1612, the City Chamber laid out the grounds for public recreation.
The early park was destroyed in the Civil War when, in 1642 large new defensive ditches were dug outside the walls for the city's defence. Soon after The Restoration, in 1664, the city set about repairing the park; planting and maintaining hundreds of young elms and laying out gravel paths. There has been a continuous tradition of maintaining the park as a major civic amenity since that time. In 1806 it was described as 'justly admired, planted with lofty elms...kept in good repair by the chamber, much resorted to for its fine air and agreeable shade.'
Northernhay underwent major re-landscaping in 1860, receiving its important group of monuments to major Victorian figures in the city's history in the period 1860-1895. Today the collection includes:
Today the garden is home to a number of mature trees and hosts some of the city's most impressive seasonal horticultural displays, including the 59 varieties within the Cornus collection.
A four year focus on increasing biodiversity is taking place, and Peregrines and Sparrowhawks have recently made the gardens their home.
Northernhay can be easily reached by train from Exeter Central Station and from any City Centre bus. Northernhay Gardens is accessible by foot from Northernhay Place, Queen Street and paths from New North Road. The gardens are open from 7:30am till dusk.