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Guided tour of Jellicoe Water Gardens, Hemel Hempstead

Taking a sleeping beauty and bringing it back to life. Join Turn End Trust’s guided tour of Jellicoe Water Gardens, Hemel Hempstead.

Jellicoe Water Gardens are a significant example of post-war twentieth century modernist landscape and are Grade II listed on the Register of Parks and Gardens. With expert guidance from garden historians and the landscape architects responsible for their restorations, we will be given special insight to the important features of the site, a town centre public park, and the restoration challenges.

Hosted by Friends of the Jellicoe Water Gardens, we will have unique access to some of the key players behind this admirable restoration including Oliver Rock and Katharina Erne from HTA LLP; Dominic Cole, President of the Gardens Trust and advisor to Dacorum Borough Council’s Project Board for the restoration; Garden Historian Kate Harwood, Friends of Jellicoe Water Gardens and Hertfordshire Gardens Trust. We will have access to some of Jellicoe’s original plans and learn about the key challenges that the restoration presented and how, with assistance from the Friends, the onwards management of the site has developed.


10.30: Meet at the Community Room and Friends Garden, located at the north end of the park (see map) for tea/coffee

10.40: Presentations at the Community Building and Friends Garden

11.40: Guided tour through the Water Gardens

Tour will end sometime between 13:00 -13:30. You are welcome to explore the site further on your own or bring a packed lunch to enjoy in the privacy of the Friends Garden.

Jellicoe Water Gardens were designed in 1957-1959 by the renowned landscape architect Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe in collaboration with his wife, Susan. Jellicoe’s design takes the form of a serpent, with the lake as the head, the fountain forming the eye, a curving tail resting on the mound and the gently cascading weirs suggesting the snake's locomotion. The flower garden was placed like a 'howdah' on the back of the serpent.

Jellicoe had the idea of concealing a ghost within the visible. Allegory and the sub-conscious were themes that Jellicoe explored - the 'ghost within' providing the scheme with an additional layer of intellectual and artistic intent that elevates it to something that is more than merely practical landscape and creating special interest. In Jellicoe's vision his serpent brought people closer to water and nature.

Works were completed by 1962 and the park became a much-loved feature of the town, providing an interlude between parking and shopping. However, by 2010 the park, despite being Grade II on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, the Water Gardens had become much overgrown and degraded. Championed by the local community, Dacorum Borough Council and the Gardens Trust, landscape architects from HTA Design LLP undertook a major restoration of the site from 2012-17, securing the Landscape Institute’s Heritage and Conservation Award 2017.


Access is good throughout the Water Gardens. It is a linear site that benefits from a relatively flat serpentine path which we will use. Shallow steps/changes in level exist in a few places. The walk from the Community Building to the most southern end of the Water Gardens is about 500 metres.


Jellicoe Water Gardens (Bridge St, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1EF) can be reached by car or public transport. If driving park in the Water Gardens North Car Park. Enter from the Combe Street entrance and park on the ground level as close to entrance as possible to minimise walk to Community Building. Payment for car parking is via RingGo and can be paid with a credit or debit card via the App/ telephoning/text. Information on the parking charges can be found here.

Hemel Hempstead rail station is approximately 1.9km (1.2 miles), approximately a 26-minute walk from the Community Building.

£35 (Friends: £30)

Buy Tickets here

Earlier Event: 21 June
Midsummer Night's Tour
Later Event: 26 August
House and Garden Open Day