Located in East Melbourne, the Fitzroy Gardens are one of the city's oldest public gardens. Named after Sir Charles FitzRoy, Governor of New South Wales, they were laid out from the late 1850s to a design by Clement Hodgkinson (1818-93), assistant commissioner of Crown lands and survey. Hodgkinson, who also designed the Treasury Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens, was a senior government official and civil engineer, and a founding member of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria and Royal Society of Victoria.
At a time when many people travelled on foot, paths fed into the surrounding streets to provide those who were merely crossing the 26-hectare reserve with a direct route. Initially, it was intended that leisure activities should occur only along these paths, which were fenced and lined with copies of classical and modern statues. Fountains, a rotunda and bandstand, in which sacred music only was permitted to be played on Sundays, were also part of the ornamentation and are still there today. Until the end of the 19th century, there were few flowers or lawns, and many trees were conifers, although the Gardens' well-known elm trees were planted during that early period.
When the Spanish mission style conservatory opened during the great depression, hundreds of people queued at a time to see the free floral displays. In 1934 Cook's Cottage was reassembled nearby and the Fairies' Tree completed. By then lawns and flowerbeds had replaced many trees. The last remaining statues along the paths were removed at the start of World War II, and the Tudor Village was presented shortly after its end. Wedding parties seeking a picturesque setting are a more recent addition to these popular gardens, which are still crossed every day by pedestrians en route to other destinations.