Bridewell Organic Gardens is an award-winning charity based in a walled garden and five-acre vineyard at Wilcote, near Witney in West Oxfordshire. Our objective is to improve the emotional well being of adults who have suffered from a range of mental illnesses.
This objective is met by providing a tranquil, rural setting in which our service users ('gardeners') can engage in satisfying and rewarding activities.
It is well known from research that serious and enduring mental illness leads to losses of self-esteem and self confidence, unemployment, social exclusion and hence isolation. All of these can significantly compound the original problem. It is also widely accepted that participation in social therapeutic activities forms an important part of the rehabilitation process for people with long-term health problems.
It is this therapeutic service that we provide at Bridewell.
A group of interested people founded Bridewell in 1994. After searching the local area for a suitable site we were extremely fortunate that the Cecil family offered us the use of a derelict walled garden on their estate. Thanks to their generosity and support we have been able to develop our wonderful setting.
Over the course of the last few years the garden has been transformed from a wasteland into a calm oasis dedicated to cottage plants, vegetables and fruit. We have also provided a range of small workshops and activities available to our gardeners now includes, not only horticulture, but also beekeeping, woodwork and blacksmithing. In 1999 we acquired a further five-acre site adjacent to the garden that is now planted as an organic vineyard.