English Heritage Celebrates Restoration of Victorian Gardens In Yorkshire

By Graham Spicer | 26 July 2005
Shows a photo of a large white house with formal gardens in front of it

The gardens have been restored to their Victorian prime. © Shaun Flannery

Although TV garden makeovers seem to take around a weekend to finish, gardeners at English Heritage have taken slightly longer to complete a restoration project in South Yorkshire.

Gardeners, historical experts and curators have toiled for 15 years to restore the grounds of Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster, which were first laid out in the 1860s and are regarded as one of Britain’s most authentic Victorian gardens.

This was no suburban backyard, however, with the 15-acre grounds of Brodsworth Hall having largely vanished under a jungle of overgrown vegetation since its heyday in the late 19th century.

David Avery, English Heritage Head Gardener, said: “We’ve now met our initial goal of bringing the gardens back under active management. Achieving that aim has involved painstaking research and backbreaking work. But the rewards are visible in the wonderful surroundings we see today.”

Shows an old postcard of Brosworth Hall which is a large white house surrounded by formal gardens

Brodsworth Hall as it was in 1910. Its gardens had all the trappings of a stately home. Courtesy English Heritage

In Victorian times Brodsworth Hall was owned by the wealthy Thellusson family, who wanted it to have all the trappings of a stately home, and formed a grand garden in miniature around the house. The restoration has recreated the paths, formal flowerbeds, bridges and ornamental features of this fashionable 19th century garden.

Despite all the improvements, David still explained that there was plenty of work still to be done: “We want to develop the gardens further and gain national recognition for some of our collections, such as holly and wild roses.”

During the clearing work a new type of fern was discovered by David and fern expert Martin Rickard, and tree surgery opened up areas of dense shade and reformed the tapestry of clipped yew, holly and evergreen shrubs.

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