Following is a comment posted by Ann B to an article of the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital. We felt it was too good not to share.
What a wonderful description! I grew up in the 1950’s in the gatehouse of the Thomas Walker Hospital. By that time, of course, suburbia was well established and most of those orchards you mention had disappeared. However, we used to get a delivery of milk each morning from the Dame Eadith Hospital, where they still had a small dairy farm. There was still a vegetable garden at the Thomas Walker, which provided the vegetables for both hospitals.
The gardener, Mr. Hall, came out from the Isle of Wight as a young lad and worked directly under Dame Eadith Walker’s exacting and watchful eye! He had two assistant gardeners – Mr. Wright and Mr. Peke. They were all pretty old when I knew them.
There were also two beautiful old draught horses that Mr. Hall used – supposedly to plough. We’d go over each day and feed them crusts of bread. Sadly the horses were sent to the knackery when they became very old. I think Mr. Hall might have retired by then and I suppose the trustees had no interest in keeping them.
The next gardener to replace Mr Hall was hopeless – he simply chopped everything down and almost destroyed the beautiful gardens at Thomas Walker.
We moved out of that wonderful house when I was about 12 years old. It was simply magical growing up there and I still have dreams about it.