Closure of Stephens House & Gardens
Following on from the announcement regarding the reopening of public parks, and also taking into account the most recent extension of the lockdown by 3 weeks we provide this updated information on the gardens.
In the government announcement the definition of what should open is ‘public park’ as Stephens House & Gardens is not a public park but a private gardens to which the public are allowed access then the new guidelines do not apply to Stephens House & Gardens. This is similar to estates run by organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage.
The control of the gardens would require us to bring in staff and consequently put them at risk as they would have to come into fairly close contact with gardens users that would inevitably choose not to follow any rules, additionally the playground and fitness equipment is not to used, this has not been relaxed, and therefore we would have to have a permanent presence within the gardens to control the behaviour of users. Unlike a public park controlled by a local authority, with additional support from the police, we are privately managed by an independent charity and have a legal responsibility for the safety of all those that use the gardens, we cannot administer this legal responsibility without a high level of staffing.
While our staff remain furloughed, and until the house and gardens can open to generate an income, we will not be able to open the gardens in isolation.
We understand this will be disappointing to some who would wish to use the gardens for exercise, may we recommend Victoria Park which is open, and is not much further to walk for some exercise for the next few weeks.
We will also continue to monitor all advice and will inform the public through our website and social media channels should the current situation change.
We continue to ask that you take a moment to think about the team that provide the gardens for your pleasure free of charge throughout the year. These are the same staff that are currently being laid off because the house is not generating the income that we need to maintain the free access to the gardens. If you are not one of those that currently and very kindly makes a regular donation to the Trust to support our work this might the time to have a look at our website and look at the various ways you can donate. http://www.stephenshouseandgardens.com/get-involved/donate By doing this you can ensure that when this crisis is past we will still be here to reopen and provide the fantastic facilities you have enjoyed, probably without even realising how it was funded.
We will always put the safety of those using the gardens and of our staff at the forefront of everything we do.