About us


Kay and Patrick McHugh purchased Church Gardens, Harefield in 1995, after constantly working on the derelict property for 2 and a half years they moved in with their 3 year old daughter and 4 week old twins daughters in 1998. Church Gardens is the original walled gardens of the Harefield Place estate which are probably amongst the oldest surviving walled gardens in England, the walls date from the late C16th and early 17th Century. There are three walled areas; the kitchen garden, a smaller courtyard behind the main house, and a final much larger area comprising of a nuttery/orchard. This larger walled garden is one of the only surviving renaissance pleasure gardens in the country and includes a unique arcaded wall. 


It is believed that this mysterious wall was constructed sometime between 1601 and 1636 for Sir Thomas Egerton and his wife the Countess of Derby- the residents of Harefield Place at that time. The function of the arcade niches has been a matter of great debate. Locally it was believed to be a 'bee' wall (unlikely due to the size of the alcoves) or the alcoves could have been used to protect delicate fruits, like an early orangery or to display life sized statues. The most interesting possibility is that it was constructed as a backdrop for a performance of a masque called 'Arcades' written by the poet Milton with music by Henry Lawes which was written for the 70 year old Countess of Derby as an entertainment to celebrate her life. 


In 2016, Patrick had a serious accident whilst working on one of the projects at Church Gardens. Whilst lying in hospital with a broken leg and shattered ankle, Patrick signed up Church Gardens to open for The National Garden Scheme...

In August 2018, we had our first Public Open Day and over 500 people arrived to view the 'Secret Gardens' in Harefield. Encouraged by the response, we now open the garden to the public for large Open Days and Private Group Visits to raise funds for the continuing restoration of Church Gardens. 


We are now ready to begin restoring the walls in the orchard. Sadly, the unique arcaded wall had fallen into terrible  disrepair by the time Kay and Patrick had arrived at Church Gardens. Trees had begun to grow through arches causing them to collapse. This is an extremely exciting project with huge historical significance, however, it is extremely expensive. It is Kay and Patricks ambition to complete this project during their life time but they can not possibly fully fund the restoration of this wall themselves. 

Help us raise money to restore c.1600 one of a kind arcaded wall at Church Gardens. 

Click below to donate to our JustGiving page: