A 270-YEAR-OLD tradition will be continued this weekend when a concert takes place in the upper walled garden at Old Durham Gardens.

Old Durham Gardens are more than 350 years old, and were restored by the City of Durham Council (1984-2000). They are now owned by Durham County Council, and maintained by the Friends of Old Durham Gardens, in collaboration with the authority.

The Friends’ mission is to maintain the existing gardens, restore missing planting, continue to develop authentic period planting and encourage community use.

The earliest reference to a concert at Old Durham, was recorded in the Newcastle Courant in May 1745. The article said: “Last Wednesday Evening was performed in the Gardens at old Durham, a Concert of vocal and instrumental Musick, by several Gentlemen, for their own Amusement: The Double-base, Bassoon, French-horn, Hautboy, and Kettle Drum Parts, by the Rev. Dr Sharp’s Sons, the other instrumental Parts, by the Gentlemen of the Choir, and the vocal Part by Mr Clark. The Company which was very large and genteel, universally applauded the Performance; and the fine Evening with the Pleasantness of the Gardens, made it altogether a most agreeable Entertainment.”

The tradition died out more than 80 years ago, but was revived in 2012. The 2019 concert will take place from, 1pm to 4.30pm on Sunday.

The free event will include a wide range of musical and dancing talent from around the city, including performances from Durham Scratch Choir (a community choir – multi genre from medieval to popular), Plot 77 (Bluegrass country music), Step This Way with Bones Creek Band (Appalachian clog dancing accompanied by ‘old time’ American music), Durham Harmonics (close harmony choir) and QuarTetes (clarinet jazz, classical, blues).

There will be refreshments available in the marquee, including local ales, teas, scones, and cakes.

Chair of the Friends, Joy Brindle said: “It was the summer tradition in mid-eighteenth century Durham for people to assemble at the Gardens for summer music concerts.

“We are keen to restore not just the gardens here, but the activities within them, so visitors will still be treated to music and dancing, while enjoying a traditional summer tea of cakes and scones, and possibly something a bit stronger.”

Visitors are asked to walk to the gardens, via Maiden Castle (car parking facilities available at the University’s Graham Sports Centre. Concert-goers will need to register cars at the Sports Centre reception), Gilesgate or the city centre (less than a mile from the Market Place).

Footpath routes will be signposted on the day. There will be a limited number of disabled car parking spaces at the Gardens.

Organisers say that though there will be some chairs in the gardens, large numbers are not provided, so visitors may wish to bring their own picnic chair, blanket or plastic sheet to sit on.

There will be the opportunity to join the Friends of Old Durham Gardens – a voluntary group whose members give their time to help maintain the historic gardens at Old Durham – and/or make a donation towards their work. The group is entirely reliant on donations, grants and fund-raising events for its income. Full details, including access arrangements, can be obtained on the Friends’ website www.olddurhamgardens.co.uk