Completed Project: Silent Space
Transforming the Dutch Garden into a Silent Space was a collaborative effort between the uea(su) Courage Project and the UEA Estates Team. The project benefits the UEA's Green Flag Award and Green Impact Program. In addition, the 2019 planting design by Ruth Cooper pays homage to the site's heritage, having been developed following historical research. The garden is also the first Silent Space on a university campus grounds.
The rejuvenation of the garden was completed over three days by PhDiggers and the UEA Estates Team, who worked together to remove weeds from the site's hedged beds, add fertiliser to the soil, and plant a variety of perennials.
The origins of Earlham Hall, situated a few miles west of Norwich, can be traced back to the late sixteenth century. Records show that the Houghton family acquired the estate in 1616 and that the hall was extensively remodelled over the next 200 years by a succession of owners. In 1786, it became the home to generations of the Gurney’s, a family prominent in banking, politics, theology and natural science. John Gurney, co-founder of Gurney’s Bank, was the father of Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) who spent her childhood at Earlham Hall. A social reformer and philanthropist, Elizabeth dedicated her life to helping those in need. Her legacy continues to this day and underpins many of the attitudes of 21st century society, with her face now appearing on the UK £5 note. The Hall has been occupied by the University of East Anglia since its foundation in 1963 and was formally purchased in 2010. A major restoration project was completed in 2018 and it the Hall is now home to the School of Law.
The Silent Space
The 'Dutch Garden' to the south east of the Hall is a formal box parterre, surrounded by gravel paths and walls on three sides that date back to the 18th century. It is accepted that the garden was laid out in the 1880’s or 1890’s and its original planting was clearly influenced by the ideas of Gertrude Jekyll, the British horticulturalist and garden designer. The Silent Space, adjacent to the open spaces of Earlham Park, is an oasis of calm in which to sit and enjoy nature in an historic setting.