Bishop’s Park walled garden, Abergwili

The winning team will revamp an 18th century walled garden which is located within the former grounds of the old palace of the Bishop’s of St Davids and features a range of historic features and structures including the footings of three disused glasshouses and a dipping pond.

The project is part of a wider ‘Tywi Gateway’ initiative which will restore the historic landscaped park’s octagonal-shaped lodge and bothy and transform a disused dairy into a new visitors centre featuring a museum, café, toilets and offices.

Pembroke-based Acanthus Holden Architects won a RIBA Stage 4-7 contract for the restoration of the neglected Bishop’s Park and other disused outbuildings surrounding the Old Bishop’s Palace four years ago.

According to the brief: ‘This project will restore and re-invigorate the walled garden, working with the local community to conserve and protect surviving historical features, and create a multi-functional space.

‘It will enable a range of health and wellbeing, educational, training and community services to be delivered based around horticulture, food production, nature conservation, and events management. We will improve safe public access to all parts, restore the glasshouses to meet future needs, and enhance the robust functionality of different garden areas.’

Located just outside Carmarthen, the park surrounds a historic house which started life as a college of priests in the 1280s. The medieval building then became the palace of the Bishops of St David’s from 1542 to 1974 and is thought to be where the New Testament was first translated into Welsh.

The historic building was significantly adapted during the nineteenth century and transformed into the Carmarthenshire County Museum (pictured) in 1978. The Welsh Historic Gardens Trust began its search for an architect to draw up the initial stages of the project in the summer of 2015.

The team chosen for the latest contract will advance the walled garden restoration from RIBA Stage 3 to 4, secure planning consent and submit a second phase NLHF funding application in August 2024.

Interested teams must have at least £5 million worth of employers, public liability and professional indemnity insurance. Bids will be evaluated 70 per cent on quality and 30 per cent on cost.

Competition details

Project title Parc yr Esgob Walled Garden Project – Architect
Client Tywi Gateway Trust
Contract value £500,000
First round deadline Midday, 29 September 2023
Restrictions Applicants must be an accredited conservation architect with relevant qualifications, knowledge and experience of working with other similar early 19th century gardens, garden features and buildings
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