Raising the flag for Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens

One of the many beautiful floral beds. Picture: Alex Walton Photography

One of the many beautiful floral beds. Picture: Alex Walton Photography - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens has again been named as one of the South West’s best parks and green spaces.

The announcement, normally made in July, was delayed this year due to Covid- 19 and while dedicated staff dealt with challenges that went along with a huge influx of extra visitors over the summer.

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

The formal use of Connaught Gardens dates back to around 1820 when Emmanuel Lousada, owner of nearby Peak House, started the construction of a detached marina villa called Cliff Cottage.

The cottage, which was on the headland at the western end of the Esplanade was renamed ‘Sea View’ in the late 19th century, was occupied by private owners until 1930 when the owner placed it on the market. The owner, a Mr Jemmett, was considered an eccentric recluse.

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There was much controversy when Sidmouth Urban District Council decided to buy the gardens for £3,500.

The council decided at the outset that the gardens needed different treatment to other local authority parks of their day - which consisted of wide paths with massed flower beds and a children’s playground. The council therefore contacted the gardens department of Dartington Hall Ltd, based at Dartington Hall, Totnes, to design a scheme and carry out construction works.

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Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “We have always known just how important our parks and green spaces are for the physical and mental health of everyone.

“All the research shows that spending time in good-quality green space can improve people’s health and wellbeing, that is why it is important that they are managed to the recognised standard of the Green Flag Award. This is now something that millions more recognise after the challenges of the past six months. All those involved in the Green Flag Award should be congratulated on their achievement.”

Also among the winners this year was Seafield Gardens in Seaton.

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