The Fitzroy gardens until the 1860’s were known as Fitz Roy square. It was named after the 10th Governor of New South Wales, Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy. There used to be a blue stone quarry in the area since 1839 and refuse were dumped in those left over big holes, which made the square an eyesore in its early years of existence. After Victoria became separate from NSW in 1851, the council demanded the control of the square and other park reserves so that they could be developed. In 1855, Government handed the control to the corporation for developing the park with some conditions. The sole control of the garden was passed on to the City of Melbourne only in 1917. In 1862, the 64acre Fitzroy square was temporarily reserved as a site for public gardens and it was designated as Fitzroy Gardens.
James Sinclair, who assisted the Russian Tzar in laying out the Royal Gardens at St Petersburg who later migrated to Australia was to became the first garden planner of the Fitzroy Gardens. It was a herculean task in front of him to turn the land that was impeded by the swamps and bluestone quarries to a garden. Instead of focusing on plants he mainly planted trees with the intention of making it a parkland rather than a conventional flower garden, adhering to his concept of trees and shaded walks. His ideas contributed much to Melbourne’s development as a garden city. In 1860 Sinclair took up residence in the garden to take charge of the night irrigation during the summer months. In April 1881 James Sinclaire died aged 72 years, in the house in Fitzroy Gardens. A gate keepers Lodge was built on the corner of Lansdowne Street and Wellington Parade in 1864. Most of the statues installed in the garden were brought from Cremorne Gardens in Richmond, which was closed in 1864. The artistic quality of those statues coped much criticism at that time and most of them were removed in 1934, during the preparation for the centenary celebrations.
Attractions at Fitzroy Gardens
Located on the main Elm avenue in Fitzroy Gardens, the cottage is in Italian Romanesque style.
On 13th March 1930, a conservatory was opened in the Gardens, with floral displays. There are five separate displays each year. The building is in Spanish mission architectural style. The Conservatory is open every day, 9am – 5pm. (5.30pm daylight saving) Closed Christmas Day (December 25th)
Cooks cottage was relocated from the village Great Ayton in Yorkshire to coincide with Victoria’s centenary celebrations in 1934. Details about Cooks Cottage can be found here https://tomelbourne.com.au/cooks-cottage/
From 1931 -34 Ola Cohn has created carvings with likenesses of fairies, dwarfs, Koalas and a host of Australian animals and birds on stumps of dead Red Gum Trees, which were around 300 years old. In 1977, the trunks were extracted from ground, chemically treated and remounted on a concrete base. This is a popular children’s attraction in the park.
There are many statues in the garden. Boy on the Turtle located in the lower lake, Boy and the Pelican, Mermaid and Fish at the Hotham Street entrance, Diana and the Hounds – outside the Conservatory, Mary Gilbert and the Statue of Meditation at the conservatory are some of the statues with a story to tell. There are many beautiful fountains in the Gardens too.
Tudor village situated in the Garden is one of 3 such villages created by Edgar Wilson who lived in London. He presented it to the City of Melbourne in appreciation of Melbourne’s generosity in sending food to Britain during the second World War. The Tudor village was opened to public in 1948.
The Garden can be booked for weddings, events and functions. For all Weddings, Events and Function bookings and enquiries contact the City of Melbourne Booking Officer on (03) 9658 8008 or visit the City of Melbourne web site for information.
For further information about he Garden, visit their website http://www.fitzroygardens.com
Address: Wellington Parade, East Melbourne VIC 3002
Open: 24 Hours
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