The Gardens and Grounds are being restored to Organic production from a state of abject dereliction.
Photographs from 1937 show well tended lawns and herbaceous planting in essentially a late Victorian manner, unsurprising, perhaps, for a house largely let since Edwardian times. A photograph of the Edwardian head-gardener in his hot house shows the opulence of country-house life at that time.
By 2012, however, following decades of complete neglect, the Garden was as much a ruin as the Hall. The formal terraces shown in the 1901 OS lay buried and invisible beneath grass, brambles and self-sown sycamores. The 120 yard long 18th Century hot wall stood decayed and forlorn, its Peach House vanished. The lawns and Kitchen Garden were chest-high with hogweed and coarse grasses.
This situation has now been transformed. Picking up on the Hall’s history, but also the desires and anxieties of our own times, the driving philosophy of the garden restoration is to explore and re-capture the 17th Century spirit of the Garden, drawing on contemporary writers (both theoretical and practical) such as Francis Bacon, John Evelyn and John Parkinson. They emphasised the concept of garden as ‘Paradisus’, a recovered Eden, which provides for all the physical as well as the spiritual needs of a country-gentleman’s household.
This approach, so ingrained in the garden writing of the time, takes the principle ‘Dulce et Utile’ (‘beauty and usefulness’) as its guide, leading to the creation of a beautiful, but also a superabundantly productive garden, on a grand scale, and raises the otherwise quotidian activity of gardening to the level of a spiritual act, an act of worship.
The resultant sense (and fact) of Nature’s overflowing bounty (itself the product of the boundless grace and love of God the Creator) being brought forth from the soil by the sweat of our brows – as Adam was commanded at our Fall – returns Man to as close to his pre-lapsarian state as is possible by his own, unaided efforts. At its simplest, it perhaps explains the enduring appeal of the garden – and particularly the productive garden – throughout the Ages.
For more images, please follow the link to our Gallery.