Preston Park, rockery

Boasts the largest municipal rock garden in the UK

The Rockery, landscaped by Captain B Maclaren in 1935, is the largest municipal rock garden in the UK. Before 1935, it was an area of woodland which was purchased by Brighton Corporation, along with Preston Park, from the Bennett-Stanford family in September 1883.

Based on the Chinese Willow Pattern
It is said that the inspiration for the Rockery came from the Chinese story of the Willow Pattern. 1350 tons of Cheddar stone were brought from Somerset to create it. Its stepping stones, twisting paths, steps and a bridge were designed to integrate with foreign plants and pond life.

In need of renovation
Unfortunately, the Rockery in 1994 is in a poor state; the pond leaks and is quite empty. It is currently used as a skateboard ramp which has caused further damage to the border plants. The Rockery will be repaired by 1995 - hopefully!

This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
At the time that work commenced on the Rockery I was a young child spending the night with my grandparents at the Preston Bakery which was opposite Preston Manor. The land to be utilised was an area of tall trees housing a large number of birds, hence the name Rookery. It was also infested with rats. During the night in question, they must have decided to move on as their habitat was being destroyed. My grandfather took me to a window overlooking Preston Road and I will never forget that sighting. The whole of the road - looking north and south was a seething mass of rats moving as one..it was truly frightening and mind blowing. The migration had to have been planned and organised with the ultimate destination known. Have you experienced anything similar?
By Peter Clark (19/10/2005)

Although the origin of the name may well have originated from the inhabitants of the trees in the area, the Rookery was in fact named after the very large Victorian house called the Rookery that occupied the site of the rock garden until its demolition in the 1930s. It was the largest mansion in the Preston Road and had a lodge house adjoining the tennis courts and bowling greens. It appears on several postcards issued in the Edwardian period. It is a great shame that the original name appears to be in danger of being forgotten.

By Anthony Beeson (21/11/2010)

As Garden Manager of this wonderful garden, I'd just like to reply to the original post about the garden looking in a poor state in 1994.

Well you'll be pleased to know that after a lot of hard work, the garden is looking absolutely fantastic again.  In the past 4 years, we've got the waterfall up and running again, the pond has been completely repaired and new marginal shelves added, the lower paths have been repaired, old, tired shrubberies and overgrown areas have been stripped out and replanted with a vibrant range of summer flowering perennials, over 100,000 bulbs have been planted, a chalk wildflower bank has been created as has a winter garden and there is a woodland walk being created.

We are getting some fantastic feedback from the public and I'm very proud to be working there.  Should anyone want to check out photos that I take, please look here https://www.facebook.com/PrestonRockGarden?ref_type=bookmark

By Andy Jeavons (15/06/2014)

Those photos look wonderful, Andy. I might take me a walk down there!

By Janet Beal (15/06/2014)

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