Gardens of Easton Lodge forced to close
THE GARDENS of Easton Lodge have been forced into closure after running into financial difficulties. From February 28 the gates at the popular tourist attraction will be closed and the public will not be allowed in for the remainder of 2009, raising doubt
THE GARDENS of Easton Lodge have been forced into closure after running into financial difficulties.
From February 28 the gates at the popular tourist attraction will be closed and the public will not be allowed in for the remainder of 2009, raising doubts over its long term future.
All members of paid staff have been made redundant.
Chairman of the Gardens Trust, Bella D'Arcy, said: "We hope that that this closure is only temporary until the general economic climate improves, but we are grateful to those who have already volunteered their help for the future.
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"Poor weather experienced over the summer of 2008 reduced the number of visitors. Consequently, the funding reserves at the disposal of the trustees are now exhausted and, in the short term, hopes of replenishing those reserves sufficiently are slim.
"It is important that the trust continues, so that the great work of previous owners Brian and Diana Creasey in restoring and opening these important gardens to the public is not lost."
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Located one mile north of Dunmow, at Little Easton, the gardens had become a major attraction in the area and hosted events all year round.
The trustees and volunteers are now expected to focus efforts on raising substantial cash to continue with proposed restoration projects in the hope that the gardens will re-open in the future.
A major part of that effort will be to secure National Lottery funding to enable the gardens to earn sufficient income to operate as a sustainable business.
Mrs D'Arcy said: "We hope this can be achieved without spoiling the essential attractiveness of the gardens to loyal supporters. With the help of volunteers, and with the assistance of the majority land owners, Land Securities, access could be possible on special open days."
She added: "We would like to thank the many loyal staff, friends, volunteers and patrons who have made such a massive contribution to the gardens over the years.
"We can reassure them that the gardens will be maintained by Land Securities during the closure period."
The gardens will not close until the annual snowdrop openings have concluded. These are very late in flowering this year but openings will take place from February
21 to 28.
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