For centuries, the surrounding gardens have provided a beautiful setting for Wynyard Hall and have evolved over the many years since their creation.
Going back to 1819, Wynyard heiress Frances Anne, Vane Tempest married Lord Charles Stewart. His elevation to the title 3rd Marquis of Londonderry in 1822, saw the development of the house and gardens in a style befitting their new station in life.
Garden designer, William Sawrey Gilpin created the initial gardens and instilled gently curved flowerbeds, raised terrace walks, irregularly shaped shrubberies and winding paths to create beautiful images within the landscape.
Durham historian William Fordyce in 1857 describes the landscape, ‘From the mansion, a broad terraced walk conducts to the gardens, which cover many acres of ground. The front or flower garden is flanked with glass houses, containing rare and exotic flowers and fruits. A broad gravel walk, arched over with roses, leads to the orchard and the dairy – a pretty rustic building. Sloping down towards the lake, extensive pleasure-grounds are intersected with numerous gravel drives and grass rides several miles in extent.’
A significant time in the history of The Gardens was during Theresa, Lady Londonderry’s title. Pioneering for her time Theresa re-developed The Gardens in 1912. Along with the re-development Theresa create a garden album which records in great detail the series of gardens she transformed…
Beyond the Ratisbon Gates, the Italian Garden produced a stunning effect. A series of carpet beds, densely packed with brightly coloured tender plants and muted foliage provided a superb show. According to Theresa, ‘to sit on the seat under the oak on the rising ground and to look at the brilliant colours displayed in this garden is most satisfying to the eye.’
Theresa also created a series of ornamental gardens, including a rose garden, a lily garden, a thyme walk and a herbaceous broad walk, 270 yards long, bounded by a high yew hedge.
In contrast to the formal gardens, the wild garden presented a range of shrubs, plants and bulbs in a natural setting, with grass paths, known as ‘the garden river’. The final words of her journal demonstrate Theresa’s love of this area. ‘Wild garden, grow! To me your paths are memories and every flower a friend.’
The Gardens were not only created for appearance, they had a purpose, which was to sustain the great house.
The area now known as the Walled Garden, the site for Sir John Hall’s Rose Garden, was originally, the kitchen garden. The Head Gardener’s cottage stands in the corner. A bell hanging at a central point high up on the wall adjoining his house marked the gardeners’ day.
Beds edged with box hedges were used for the cultivation of apple trees and vegetables. Pears, apricots, peaches and cherries were trained on the walls. Soft fruits, including vines, peaches and figs were grown in glasshouses. Plant houses and the conservatory attached to the house produced exotic flowers, including roses, carnations, camellias and orchids.
At the turn of the 20th century, visitors flocked to the gardens, which were open to the public three days a week for a considerable part of the year however closed shortly before the war.
In 1987, as well as embarking on major restoration work in the house, Sir John Hall turned his attention to the grounds. Consultants suggested the restoration of the Walled Garden and Italianate Gardens, plans which are now coming to fruition, thanks to the determination and vision of Sir John and his family.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to The Gardens at Wynyard Hall.
When I was a boy I used to watch my father tend the roses on our strip of garden in Ashington and, in that garden, at the age of about 14, I made a promise to myself that one day I would have a rose garden of my own.
I was fascinated by roses. I tried to teach myself how to graft them, to take a cutting from one rose to grow another, but my fingers were clumsy and I struggled to get it right. I loved everything about them, especially their colours and their beautiful fragrance. That was many, many years ago and my dream took a back seat while I developed my business.
When I bought Wynyard Hall in 1987, I knew the time had come to do something about it. Over the years I’ve consulted experts from across the UK, finally putting together the team, whose expertise and enthusiasm are responsible for what you are soon about to see.
This rose garden has been many years in the planning and will be spectacular, but it is just the start. Over the next four years we will develop the adjoining gardens and, when the work is done, it will be one of the finest rose gardens in the UK to include a cookery school, children’s garden and valley walks.
It may have been born out of my dream, but this garden isn’t just for me. The North East of England has given me everything I have, and I have tried throughout my working life to give something back to it.
So The Gardens at Wynyard Hall aren’t just mine, they are yours too, and I hope you will get as much pleasure from visiting them as I have from creating them.