A unique serpentine walled garden in Headington
Restoration In 1946 Ruskin College, which was outgrowing its cramped WaltonStreet premises, rented the Rookery, and soon, on 10 October 1947, bought it outright. The Rookery became known as Ruskin Hall. By this time the garden had been neglected for some time and adapted for different uses. A prefabricated building used as a children’s nursery was erected at the south end of the walled garden, and a hard tennis court was created at the north end.
Above: The tennis court inside the walled garden in 1985. Note the goal post marked on the wall
Below:The outside of the crinkle crankle wall in June 1997
The sorry state of the walled garden when Google Earth photographed it from the air in about 2006. The children’s nursery can be seen at the south end
Below: The inside of the garden on 30 May 2010, showing the site of the former tennis court
Ruskin was granted planning permission (with conditions) by the North-East Area Committee on 17 June 2008 (07/02867/FUL) to remove the temporary building housing the children’s nursery plus other structures within the walled garden, and to erect a free-standing dining hall, together with hard and soft landscaping works and an ornamental pond. This idea was later abandoned.
In 2009 Ruskin had the walls of the garden restored at a cost of £400,000. The nursery and tennis court were removed, and terraced levels re-created. The picture below shows the inside of the crinkle crankle wall on 9 May 2011, when work on the ground was underway:
By that date the terraces were starting to take shape: