Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Walled Garden, Thoresby Estate.

At the time of writing (June 2018), a rather significant event is taking place on Thoresby Estate: The renovation and restoration of the Walled Garden (now known as the Echium Garden). What makes this site of particular historical importance is that its construction was completed even as the present 3rd Thoresby Hall was still being built.

The Walled Garden was designed to provide for the needs not just of the Duke’s family and guests, but for the staff and servants associated with the Hall. Indeed, such would be the hustle and bustle of this year round task, the garden was deliberately situated at a distance east of the Hall in order to minimize disturbance. Ordinance Survey maps of 1906 show it already semi-secluded by trees.

Believed to have been built c.1765, the earliest reference to the Walled Garden I have found comes from the estate’s 1860 Directory:

“A new Hall is about being erected on a commanding eminence near the rockery and in line with the Gardens, the latter of which have been newly formed and enclosed by a neat brick wall. The gardens, including the orchard and kitchen grounds, cover about 10 acres of land. There is a neat residence for the gardener on the grounds”.

The Head Gardener is listed in all the estate’s directories from 1864 – 1900 as Archibald Henderson. Directories from 1904 – 1930s list this position as being taken over by Arthur Simmons. (Simmons is also listed as making a 10 shilling contribution towards the World War 1 Memorial gated entrance to Perlethorpe Church. THIS LINK).

A reliable description of the Walled Garden can be found in Robert White’s “Worksop, The Dukery, and Sherwood Forest” (1875):

“To the East of the Hall are the gardens, which cost £4,000, covering 8.5 acres; 5.5 acres of which are enclosed by brick walls. The rest is in slips on the East, North and West sides, with an orchard on the North. The kitchen garden is intersected by two fine broad walks 550 feet long which from North to South pass out through a pair of very splendid iron gates into the park. The lofty conservatory occupies a central position in the long range of 20 well-stocked forcing houses which are about 560 feet in length”.

The World Wars of 1914/18 and 1939/45, both of which saw a military presence on Thoresby Estate, would have a negative impact. The former mostly from the enlistment and loss of life of young male workers, the latter due to the Estate being requisitioned by the military. Evidence of their activity here is still present today in the “tank dip”, the brick vehicle maintenance ramp, and perhaps most significantly the concrete roads in close proximity to the Walled garden itself.

The Walled Garden never really recovered from those times, being abandoned altogether upon the death of Gervas Pierrepont, 6th Earl Manvers, in 1955. The news that this site is being restored, when so much history risks being lost, is welcome news indeed.

For more about Thoresby Estate during the war years see THIS LINK, THIS LINK, and THIS LINK.

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