Highbury’s Garden Project

The Chamberlain Highbury Trust has begun phase 1 of Highbury’s Garden restoration and accessibility project to renovate a portion of the Grade II historic grounds that surround the suburban mansion house built by Joseph Chamberlain in 1878. The grounds were placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in September 2019. The property is located in Moseley, Birmingham and was the political base of Chamberlain until 1914 when he died. Work is expected to start this summer.

The ‘Highbury’s Gardens’ project will reinstate the original driveway from the Lodge up to the house, restore the Rhododendron Garden, open up a view between the lake and the house and improve the footpath network to the east of the house. 

The Trust has secured grants of £100k from both The National Lottery Heritage Fund with money raised by National Lottery players and Historic England towards the cost of the work, together with £80k from Birmingham City Council’s Highbury Trust and £20k from a local charitable trust.  The Highbury’s Gardens project marks the first phase of a historic landscape restoration programme for the 30 acres of gardens around the house designed by Edward Milner in 1879.  There are also plans to restore the house and more of the grounds at an anticipated cost of £8m.

Estate Design by Edward Milner 1879

We are well on the way to recruiting around 50 garden volunteers to lend their skills and time to the project. If you are keen to join the team please fill in this form or visit the Recruitment page

Volunteers are currently onsite two days per week and are working in small groups with our Volunteer Coordinators contracted from Sustainable Life Birmingham. They are working to the Landscape plans of Birmingham City Councils Landscape Practice Group and are clearing the way for contractors to lay new paths from December.

Working plan for the easten path network

Volunteers working on Highbury’s driveway clearance

Everyone onsite is working in a way that is sympathetic to the built and natural heritage features of the landscape, they are creating new habitats and wildlife pathways through the grounds. Sustainable and renewable resources are being used wherever possible and every care is being taken to use locally sourced labour and materials.

The paths will be similar to this when they are finished

This project will open up a view from the pool in the middle of Highbury Park back up to the Grade II listed mansion. Experts are undertaking pruning propagation and replanting of the Rhododendron Garden.

The Chamberlain Highbury Trust continue to work in close partnership with other organised park groups such as the Friends of Highbury Park, the Bee Keepers and Highbury Orchard Community and the Parks Department to ensure that our work is complementary and everyones knowledge of the site has fed in to the design.

Much of this work is based off landscape reports the latest of which can be seen here. This report is derived from the Historic Landscape Appraisal of Highbury Park, commissioned by the Landscape Practice Group of Birmingham City Council, 2008-9 and has been updated and expanded by Garden Historian and Chamberlain Highbury Trustee Dr Phillada Ballard. With thanks to the Cadbury Research Library for kind permission to feature several images from the Chamberlain Family Collection to illustrate the gardens of the Chamberlain era at Highbury 1880-1912.

We also welcome feedback from park users and thank you to those who completed our survey in September. Please add your comments or questions on this page and we will strive to answer them.

Thank you for your continued support and we hope you can enjoy the new path network, and estate improvements next Spring/Summer.


The Garden’s Project is in full swing

Along with our partners, funders, contractors, consultants and stakeholders we have put plans in place and are now pleased to see the long awaited phase 1 of the Highbury Gardens Project under way. Our volunteer team did an amazing job preparing the way and now the contractors are onsite and working through snow and cold to restore historic features and install new accessible path networks on the Highbury Estate.

One of the most exciting changes supports our aim to welcome and include more people in events at Highbury. This involved opening up the view from the long pool in the middle of the park back up towards the Grade II* listed mansion at Highbury. The building is now a prominent feature in the landscape rather than a gem hidden somewhere behind a bank of trees. This impressive view has been restored by carefully removing some 20 self-seeded trees that were non-native or had been damaged and needed removing, just from below the lawn. We hope that opening up the canopy in this way will allow the snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils to thrive and spread further down the bank.

Those of you who have visited Highbury recently will know how wet it has been on the paths and slopes down towards the long pool. A crucial part of the project is to investigate and clean out the historic drainage channels and introduce some new arrangements to assist the flow of water into the pool.

We will be updating our social media channels and onsite notice boards to let people know of temporary path closures to enable this work to happen.

Highbury is currently seeing three or four times its usual visitor numbers and continues to be a huge community asset as we move through another lockdown. We really hope that we can keep caring for and sharing the park in a safe way to improve and preserve it for the use of the whole community.