Bracken Hill
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Bracken Hill House was built in 1886 for Walter Melville Wills, grandson of Henry Overton Wills, who founded the tobacco firm WD & HO Wills. To complement the architecture, the estate was created, with beautiful Victorian pleasure gardens; in 1959 these became the University of Bristol Botanical Gardens. Across the road from the original house was built a ‘Swiss Chalet’ which has some unique garden figures watching over the magical grotto and pond. Click here to see it.

The gardens are open to the residents of Leigh Woods and members of the Botanic Gardens twice a year. In April 2013 a large number took the opportunity to see the latest changes after the wave of building (see pictures - Bracken Hill Spring 2014). Some of the photos taken during the last Open Day on Saturday 4th October April 2014 can be seen on this page - Bracken Hill Autumn 2014.


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A Diary of the Fall and Rise of Brackenhill by Sally Sparks

One of our Leigh Woods residents, Sally Sparks, visited the Brackenhill Gardens over a period of 5 years from 2008 to 2013 and wrote a diary about the changes to the old Botanic Gardens since Devonshire Homes acquired the site for re-development. Her diary, notes, photographs and sketches have now been published in a book and she has kindly made this available for people to see. Please click on the following link to see the book Sally Sparks - Diary of a Botanical Garden.  In due course, Sally will be setting up a facility for anyone to print a hard copy of the contents via an on-line publishing service (further details to follow). An extract of the beginning pages can be see on a separate page on the web site The Decline and Fall of a Botanical Gardens.

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