THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY HONG KONG presents "The Great Garden of Alnwick Castle"
Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland on
Tuesday, 19 February 2008 2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay
Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm We are delighted and honoured to welcome Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland to lecture on the Great Garden of Alnwick Castle. Alnwick, a castle and stately home in Alnwick, Northumberland, is the seat of the Dukes of Northumberland. Alnwick was originally built in 1096 to defend England from Scottish invasions and has been the principal residence of the Dukes of since 1309. The castle is the second largest occupied castle in the world, after Windsor, has fine state rooms added in the 18th and 19th centuries and is set in over 100,000 acres of estates. The castle, set on a magnificent crag, is known to much of the world, if not through Shakespeare and Canaletto's paintings, through numerous films including all the Harry Potter series. Her Grace is a keen gardener and particularly interested in the idea of gardens as public spaces. While most of the castle was surrounded by fine landscape gardens, some gardens, built in 1750, had been derelict for nearly fifty years and the Duchess saw an opportunity to build a new garden on the historic site reflecting the present generation, made accessible to the public with a view to bringing benefits for the local community and beyond. Through The Garden, the Duchess built a major new tourist attraction which is in turn influencing the economy of the area, generating a new community spirit and meeting the targets she wished to see realised when she first set out on this exciting project. The Duchess made the decision in March 1996 to build a water garden on a scale fitting to the castle. This vision has exceeded the Duchess's wildest dreams with The Alnwick Garden, whilst still under development, already one of the most visited horticultural attractions in the Europe. The Garden is attracting over half a million visitors a year, which has been the catalyst for a major regeneration in the local economy, reflecting the benefits that increased visitor numbers bring to all aspects of commercial enterprises within the region. No garden of this scale has been built in the Europe during the last 100 years and it is the largest water garden to be built since Peter the Great's Peterhof in St Petersburg. The Alnwick Garden is the first public garden designed by Jacques Wirtz anywhere in the world, a designer with an established international reputation. In this lecture, the Duchess tells personally the story of The Alnwick Garden from its early beginnings, through the design and construction of The Garden and its unique new buildings, the economic regeneration benefits and the exciting ongoing future development plans. Also speaking at the lecture is Ian August, Garden Liaison Director, who has worked closely with the Duchess throughout the project. Mr. August previously worked as the Estate Clerk of Works to Northumberland Estates, responsible for maintenance, restoration works and new developments on Estate property, comprising 171 agricultural holdings, 600 residential properties, Alnwick Castle and 240 listed buildings. In 1996, Mr. August became Garden Project Director to The Alnwick Garden to oversee design and development, subsequently taking up the position of Garden Liaison Director. Her Grace The Duchess of Northumberland (Jane) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and married in 1979. Their Graces The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland now have four adult children. The Duchess successfully manages her family life whilst supporting numerous charities and her commitment to The Alnwick Garden. The Duchess is a keen gardener and particularly interested in the idea of gardens as public spaces. That interest provided the inspiration behind the vision for The Alnwick Garden, together with her love of green spaces affordable to all and the view that gardens should be seen as places of art, rather than simply conventional gardens. Through The Alnwick Garden, the Duchess has built a major tourist attraction which in turn is influencing the economy of the area, generating a new community spirit and meeting the targets she wished to see realised when first setting out on this exciting project. In 2005, The Duchess won the national award for outstanding contribution to Tourism at the England Excellence Awards. In addition to numerous publications and documentaries, she has a Chinese connection with a monthly column in 'Modern Magazine' published in Beijing and sold throughout China. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$100 for Members, HK$150 for Members' guests and HK$200 for others.