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Coach House, Studios, Old School House & St. Anthony’s Garden, Peasholme Green
The Coach House of St. Anthony’s Hall was built of red brick in Flemish Bond in the late 18th century and is of two storeys. In each gable end there is a small segmental arch casement window at first floor level with an oeil-de-boeuf window above.
Formerly a printers’ works, the building stood empty and falling into disrepair for many years until the Trust carried out major renovations, which included a very attractive conservatory with a lantern roof. A delicatessen and restaurant now operates from this building.
Beyond this into the garden there were 19th century play sheds, for the children of the Blue Coat School, which were constructed of brick, iron and wood with a Welsh slate roof and skylight windows over each of the three bays. The Trust has sympathetically restored these buildings and managed to retain much of the original structure and roof and converted them into two large studios.
Old School House
This single storey building was built in 1913 as a new classroom block and consisted of three separate classrooms, one of which was set aside for the Grey Coat girls when they began to receive their schooling in 1924 at the Blue Coat School. It required minimal alteration and is now used as a studio workshop, open to the public.
St. Anthony’s Garden
In order to improve play facilities for the children, part of the garden was concreted over in 1928 to form a playground. After the closure of the school the garden became neglected and overgrown, until the Trust purchased the whole site in February 2006 and decided to landscape it for the use and benefit of the general public.
The garden design was entrusted to the students of Bishop Burton College, whose remit was to retain as much of the original garden layout as possible, with special emphasis on making it user friendly for the disabled, and the partially sighted and blind. Elements of spirituality, practicality, education and historical timelines have all provided inspiration for the garden design.
The Shield Border
On entering the garden, a large sandstone shield commemorates the design and restoration of this garden and the links to St. Anthony.
The dry stone wall represents a journey through life, starting with enclosure and security, followed by the ups and downs of life’s challenges. It finally rises to a high point at the ‘Tau’ cross, a symbol of healing.
The flame, a symbol of passion, inspiration and sacrifice represents St. Anthony’s love for his neighbour. The lily is a symbol of St. Anthony’s purity and his battle against the demon since childhood.
Evergreen architectural plants such as the spotted laurels, Fatsia, Escallonia, Ceonothus and Vibernum provide all year structure to the planting. Colour is provided by a profusion of blue geraniums and campanulas flowing over the dry stone walls; pink pincushion-shaped flowers of Astrantia mix with the pink bell-shaped flowers of Penstamon.
Heraldic Courtyard Area
Transparent grasses catch the light; the scent of lavenders catches the air. Tactile plants such as Lambs Ears make it difficult for the visitor not to touch and interact with the plants. The central ‘wavy’ sculpture mimics the wavy grasses which form a linking theme throughout the garden, adding movement and texture. The sculpture adds height and segregation, whilst also allowing glimpses through to the buildings and planting beyond.
The Circle Haven
The circle haven is entered through one of the four metal arches which follow the same design as the other metalwork within the garden.
Box squares either side of the seating provide all year structure and texture whilst the Katsura trees, Sedum and naturalised meadow planting envelop the visitor with colour and a wildlife haven. The air is filled with the scent of thyme and the red-barked cherry tree and under-planting of pink-leaved Cornus provide a focal point as people sit and relax.
Summerhouse Planting Area
The original garden contained a dilapidated summerhouse and a modern replacement has been erected on the same site to retain this feature.
A transition area with marginal woodland planting including spires of Acanthus, red-berried Skimmia and varieties of Vibernum, Astrantia and Astilbe, add a lighter touch to the backdrop of the woodland.
The upper part of the garden has retained the lines of all the original pathways with the addition of a water rill. These meander their way up to the City walls, from where you can look down and best appreciate the overall pattern of the garden.
The walls and an informal variegated holly hedge, with occasional hawthorn trees, provide a strong and unified backdrop to the woodland area.
Architectural ferns and specimen evergreen shrubs provide structural unity, with winter interest from the bell-shaped Christmas rose. A profusion of ground hugging Gentians, Primrose, and Epimedium, form a carpet in the dappled shade of the trees.
Elegant white flowered Arum lilies extend either side of the water rill down to the trough below.
A rhythmical series of yew mounds in a sea of box hedging forms a contemporary feel to the slope between circle and woodland.
Several of the seats provided for the public have been dedicated to the memory of the founders and former trustees of this family charitable trust, as well as one donated by Michael Bell, the last caretaker of St. Anthony’s Hall and The Borthwick Institute.
In 2009 the complete St. Anthony’s Hall site was awarded the York Design Award in the category of Conservation/Re-use, New Build and Open Space/Public Realm.
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