The charity behind the renovation of Horton Chapel as new arts and heritage venue The Horton, is launching a fundraising campaign to transform the site’s overgrown and neglected grounds into a landscaped green space for everyone to enjoy.
As restoration and fit-out works continue inside the building, trustees have begun looking forwards to the spring with plans for new trees, planting, seating and the creation of paths, so that The Horton’s gardens can be accessed by all.
The development of the garden has become more of a priority as the impact of coronavirus has meant that local people have been seeking places to come together more safely outdoors. The Horton is due to open in 2021 but the 10,000 m2 gardens are currently in a poor state, with uneven ground, a tangle of brambles and weeds and a crumbling concrete ‘road to nowhere’ cutting through the site. The charity is hoping to raise £50,000 towards the project, from a public fundraising campaign.
Trustee Maria Reeves said: “In developing The Horton as a creative place for the community, our vision is not just for the chapel building itself – it extends to the whole site. We want The Horton Gardens to be a safe place to enjoy views of the heritage setting and interact with nature. Drawing on its history as a place of refuge for those experiencing mental stress or illness, we want visitors of all ages to feel inspired and rejuvenated through outdoor creative and wellbeing activities too.”
The green landscape was a very important element in the ethos behind the building of Epsom’s asylums more than 100 years ago. The benefits of walking to take in the clean air were prescribed as part of the patients’ regular routines.
Local landscape designer Sian Kelly and Guarda landscape architecture practice have donated their services to The Horton in developing an exciting concept for a natural garden.
The creation of lawns and wildflower meadow shapes will offer spaces to sit and reflect. Native hedges around the perimeter will attract wildlife. And new paths will provide access to all, winding through the site into sheltered glades and new seating areas.
Sian explained: “The Horton is such an important local project. I was pleased to be involved. Our design concept protects the mature trees and enhances the setting around the chapel, connecting it with the adjoining parkland landscape and improving biodiversity.”
Funds raised for The Horton Gardens Project will contribute to the cost of landscaping works, purchasing trees and plants, and supporting volunteers who want to join in maintaining the garden, developing new skills and making friends. We hope to work in partnership with other local organisations to make the most of this exciting opportunity, and invite companies who would like to support the project to get in touch via our website.
To find out more about The Horton, visit: thehortonepsom.org
To make an individual donation to The Horton Gardens Project, please visit our Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) fundraising page.
Registered charity no: 1167510
Horton Chapel Arts & Heritage Society