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The College Gardens

In Tudor times the landscape of St John's was strikingly different from today. On part of the present site of New Court and the Cripps Building lay fish ponds which had once served the brethren of the Hospital of St John. To the south of these, where the sandy Broad Walk now crosses St John's Meadow, was the Close, surrounded by trees and ditches. Beyond the ditch at the western edge of the meadow stretched pasture and open arable fields.

When David Loggan produced his views of the Colleges in the late seventeenth century, the gardens at St John's had expanded and taken on a more formal aspect, and indeed a bowling green had been laid out in 1625.  Further developments took place during the eighteenth century, and an entirely new garden was added in the late nineteenth century, when the Master's Lodge was built. The floral borders of the terrace, and the wisteria around the porch of the Lodge, help to soften and mellow its Gothic exterior, while the handsome chestnut creates a restful background for the new Library. Approximately 110 pure white cluster roses along the stone wall provide an ideal background for functions in the Master's Garden.

An avenue of tall limes, with one hundred metres of yew hedges on each side, leads down to the Queen's Road gate of the College, beside the Fellow's Garden and Fellow's Wilderness (possibly re-landscaped from formal gravel path walks by Capability Brown). This wild-flower garden is a haven for wildlife, with recorded species of birds including both green and lesser spotted woodpeckers and a pair of kingfishers.