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The Ushaw buildings - many of which were designed by the illustrious Pugin family - are set in extensive grounds, a large part of which was laid out as formal gardens, with trees and shrubs giving a glorious display of rhododendrons and until fairly recently boasting a small lake.
The gardens have declined and suffered over the last few years. Some of the former students of the college, members of St Cuthbert's Society of Ushaw College, have done a valiant job in keeping the Cemetery at the rear of the college in good condition and have also worked on the formal gardens in front of the main building, which are still in need of significant work. Ushaw College now hopes to restore the grounds and the elegant network of paths to their former glory and make them more widely available for people to visit and admire.
Roger Kelly, who is Chair of the Cultural Engagement Group at Ushaw College, said: "To do all this, we are looking for volunteers! The concert and events programme will need volunteers for "front of house" to meet and greet visitors, act as tour guides, assist with refreshments, steward the venues, to collect tickets and sell programmes. If you cannot attend Ushaw on a regular basis we are also looking for on-line supporters."
The Garden Project seeks anyone interested in gardens and the outdoor life to come along and get involved. Initially digging, weeding and planting will be the aim, to recover the herbaceous borders and formal planting areas. While this is being done a scheme will be considered for the longer-term development of the gardens and landscape, which may include cutting-back some of the overgrown trees and opening up views, perhaps even the restoration of the lake.