A REMARKABLE renovation project came to fruition on Tuesday with the official reopening of the Victorian walled garden in the grounds of Rowdeford School.

BBC Points West presenter Susan Osman, patron of the Rowdeford Charity Trust which found the funding for the project, performed the ceremony.

The garden was probably built by Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt, the owner of Rowdeford House in the mid-19th century. He had been born there, son of architect Thomas Wyatt, and went to school in Devizes.

He was a leading architect and secretary to the 1851 Great Exhibition, gaining the RIBA gold medal in 1866. His best-known work is Paddington Station Hotel in London.

Sadly, this century, the garden deteriorated into a wilderness. The Victorian greenhouse was declared unsafe and was in danger of being condemned.

Then, in September last year, the trust decided to raise enough funding to undertake a complete renovation of the garden and bring it into use as a training facility for the students, many of whom go into horticulture on leaving the school.

Jeremy Addington, of Calne, a parent of a student at the school's Prospect Centre, agreed to undertake the bulk of the renovation.

Beginning in January, he started clearing, preparing and planting the beds for the garden with the help of a large group of volunteers.

Funding of £15,000 came from Zurich Advice Network Foundation, whose current grant theme is Kids2Care4.

With the money, the charity paid for a local builder to renovate the dilapidated greenhouse, including the original glass in the roof and original Victorian window winders.

Only the side panes of glass have been replaced by toughened glass for safety.

The enormous cold frames are next on the list for refurbishment.

Charity trustee and school governor Mike Bowden is also looking for sponsorship to renovate the old apple store, a charming square shed perched on four staddle stones.

He said: "It is absolutely amazing what has been achieved in such a short time.

"The area is now accessible to all the pupils and it will prove a valuable asset for training.

"The whole project hangs on finding sufficient funding to employ an instructor gardener who will develop the walled garden, and at the same time offer work experience for children, which could lead to careers in horticulture."

He is already looking to the charity's next project, developing an environmental centre in the house's former hunt kennels, more recently used as barns and cowsheds.

Mr Bowden said: "That is not going to come cheap. It is likely to cost in the region of £700,000 so we will wait a little time before embarking on that."

The garden has already been given the seal of approval by Harry Dodson, presenter of BBC's The Victorian Garden. He was delighted to see how it had been so effectively brought back into use.

Susan Osman was also knocked out by the work that had been carried out by the charity. She said: "As an ex-teacher I am only too aware of how important it is to motivate and stimulate children and I can't think of doing that better than through having such a wonderful Victorian garden. So much scope for some really happy times."