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Big Plans for Crinkle-Crankle Garden


Wheathampstead’s Grade II listed Crinkle-Crankle wall, surrounds the former Old Rectory and plans have been prepared to restore the Crinkle-Crankle garden to its nineteenth-century glory and provide a beautiful space for everyone to enjoy.

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Wheathampstead’s accessible Crinkle-Crankle wall is thought to be unique in Hertfordshire and is red brick, about 3 metres high on the north, east and west sides; 2 metres high on the south side. The council plans to develop the garden as an attractive wild life friendly space to relax and, amongst other things, to enjoy the views of St Helens church. New features will include a petanque/boules court which will be free to use, seating and sensory gardens.Planning permission was required and it was given at the same time as permission to build the flats on the site, and then Wheathampstead Parish Council and the people of Wheathampstead were given the garden area as part of the agreement for the flats.


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A Crinkle-Crankle wall, also known as a crinkum crankum, serpentine, ribbon or wavy wall, is an unusual type of garden wall and Wheathampstead is fortunate to have a rare example.

Although a Crinkle-Crankle wall can be made just one brick thin to economize on bricks, the alternate convex and concave curves in the wall provide stability and help to ensure that it won’t topple over.

The term Crinkle-Crankle is thought to come from Old English, meaning zigzag, but it was not until the 18th century that the term began to be applied to wavy walls. At that time, these garden walls were usually aligned east-west, so that one side faced south to catch the warming sun and were apparently historically used for growing fruit and vegetables.

Many Crinkle-Crankle walls are found in the East Anglia region of England, where the county of Suffolk claims at least 50 examples; twice as many as in the whole of the rest of the country and where Crinkle-Crankle is said to derive from a local dialect.

Work is scheduled to start this winter/spring and it’s hoped that the hard landscaping will be completed by spring time, so that the remaining area can be planted in time for summer.

Councillor Tessa Reason said, ‘In terms of costs, the design is out for quotes, so it's too early to say precisely. We were given money to create the garden by the building developer and we're applying for any other grants that might be available. It would be wonderful if anyone wanted to sponsor a bench for the garden. We'd love to restore the gates to the garden and are hoping someone might sponsor them!’

We asked Tessa about her views on the plans for the garden and she said, ‘I'm involved as the Chair of Wheathampstead Parish Council, but mostly as a resident who loves our village. The Garden is part of our heritage and surrounded by its listed walls will be a great addition to our heritage village. The community in Wheathampstead were overwhelmingly supportive at out consultation on Village Day. The garden aims to be a true community project in the long term.’

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