Clifton Hill House, a Palladian-style mansion completed in 1750, is one of the most important surviving examples of work by the architect Isaac Ware. It is likely Ware carried out some landscaping of the garden too.
For the next century and a half, the gardens were enjoyed and altered by a series of eminent owners, until the property was donated to the University of Bristol. In 1909, Clifton Hill House opened as the first hall of residence for women.
In 2004, the restoration of Clifton Hill House was awarded first prize in the National Awards of the Georgian Group.
Now, we hope to compliment that great work by creating a garden which incorporates many elements of the original layout. The new design, by Douglas Gillis, is inspired by the 1746 De Wilstar map and the contemporary vogue for wilderness.
The garden currently incorporates a number of the original trees, including tulip tress (Liriodendron tulipifera) and copper beeches (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea') along with beds of beautiful heritage roses, a large collection of magnolias and interesting herbaceous plantings.
Also present are two old stone banqueting houses, one of which stands as a ruin. These predate the house itself.
Serving as a reminder of the estate's more recent history, there remains a WWII air-raid bunker, built into a sloping bank near the house.
Some of the first female students at Clifton Hill House, 1909.
"This garden possessed a special grace and air of breeding, which lent distinction to the dignified but rather stolid house above… old enough to have felt the unimaginable touch of time… left alone, it had gained a character of wildness"
John Addington Symonds, poet, author and resident of Clifton Hill House 1851-1877
Click here to watch a short film about the untold secrets of Clifton Hill House, presented by Dr. Tim Mowl.