Token used to Enter the Gardens in 1836

HOME PAGE > History
Gardenesque Style
Robert Marnock -
The first Curator
Old Postcards
Sheffield Botanical Gardens: People, Plants & Pavilions. Front Cover.

To find out more read:

Sheffield Botanical Gardens:
People, Plants & Pavilions.

By R. Alison Hunter, 2007

Published by the Friends of the Botanical Gardens (FOBS).
ISBN 978-0-9556385-0-3.
36pp, full colour. Price 4.95

Available at the Gatehouse Giftshop or by post (+1 p&p)
For details -

A Brief Summary

In 1833 the Sheffield Botanical and Horticultural Society was formed to promote both healthy recreation and self-education, through the development of a botanical garden. A period of fundraising followed and the land was purchased. In 1834, the Society appointed Robert Marnock, gardener of Bretton Hall, Wakefield (now the Yorkshire Sculpture Park), to design the Gardens and act as their first Curator. He laid out the Gardens in the then highly fashionable Gardenesque style, where each plant was displayed to perfection in scattered plantings. The Gardens were finally opened on the 29th and 30th June, and 4th and 5th July, 1836, when more than 12,000 people visited. The Gardens were only open to the general public on four Gala days per year; otherwise admission was limited to shareholders and annual subscribers.

In 1844, financial problems led to the failure of the first society but the Gardens were rescued with the formation of a second society (also known as the Sheffield Botanical and Horticultural Society). The conservatories were extended, a tea pavilion and the present Curator's House were constructed within the succeeding ten years. A period of steady development and growing international renown followed for the next 30 years.

In 1897, falling income, competition from the new free city parks and residential development in the area meant that the Gardens were in danger again. Fortunately, the Sheffield Town Trust came to the rescue and saved the Gardens for the city in 1898. It was then that free admission was introduced and continues today. Demolition of unsafe buildings was necessary and only the conservatory domes were repaired. The Gardens thrived until World War II, when extensive damage left the Sheffield Town Trust unable to afford the repairs and restoration required.

In 1951, the Sheffield Town Trust offered the Gardens to the Sheffield City Council for a peppercorn rent. The Council instigated repairs to the domes, creating an Aviary and an Aquarium, and restored the Gardens to their former glory. However, a downturn in the economy during the 1980s meant a severe reduction in funding and once again the Gardens were on their way to dereliction.

In 1996, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust was formed and, in partnership with the Sheffield Town Trust, the City Council, the Landscape Department at Sheffield University and FOBS, was successful in obtaining a Heritage Lottery grant. Eight years of committed fundraising mean that the three phases of restoration have now been completed and the Gardens are once more magnificent. Future plans emphasise the development of educational facilities.

Restoration Partnership: Sheffield Town Trust |  Sheffield City Council |  University of Sheffield  
Friends of the Botanical Gardens |  Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust  

Clarkehouse Road, Sheffield, S10 2LN. Tel: +44 (0)114 268 6001
Site created by Gumshoe Software Limited.
This page updated on 16 April 2015. This site updated on 19 November 2012.