wAlled gardEn histOry
Gregory Gregory’s vision for Harlaxton Manor was nurtured by travels in Europe, visits to numerous English houses of Elizabethan and Jacobean style, and his own architectural research. It is documented that Gregory visited other estates and that he borrowed stylistically from these to create a neo-Elizabethan compendium of them. Of these places, there is a particular similarity in architectural style between Burghley House and parts of Harlaxton Manor. There is also much similarity in the layout and arrangement of the grounds and gardens such as the open land falling away from the house; the formal gateways into the estate; the long driveways leading up to the house; the informal lake crossed by a classical bridge and the circular entrance courtyard enclosed with walls and balustrades.
Although Gregory Gregory studied architectural design for several years before embarking on his own project, it seems likely that the architectural framework of the gardens – the walls, steps, balustrades, etc. were designed by the architects, most probably William Burn, as these were built after Anthony Salvin had left the project.
Garden and Landscape Design were areas of considerable interest at the time. Gardens were used for recreation, social events, and as a means of connecting to nature. Formal gardens were created as an integral feature of the stately home and it is said that the gardens at Harlaxton are inspired by a tour around Europe, no doubt influenced by Gregory Gregory’s interest in architecture and his time spent in Europe and his travels farther afield. We also know that in 1823 Gregory Gregory was listed as a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society (the RHS) which would indicate that he had a keen interest in plants and garden design.
The approach to the Manor from the A607 is one of deliberate drama and eventfulness. The mile long driveway is very deliberately punctuated by a series of events from the Main Gateway to the Bridge and lake, past the Walled Garden through the Gatehouse, along an elevated causeway (raised up on Ha Ha walls) culminating at the house itself.
In May 1840 John Claudius Loudon is known to have visited. He describes the design intent as follows:
It is in Mr. Gregory’s plans to place the kitchen-garden and stables on this approach, both with a view to their convenience, and the character of domestic purpose which he is desirous to carry out throughout. They will be composed and built in the style of the mansion, and the offensive parts of their respective establishments will be concealed, whilst they will contribute to the interest of the approach, and serve to augment the scale of importance of a country residence.
Located on the dramatic and eventful approach to Harlaxton Manor, the late-19th century Walled Garden, which is 4 acres and Grade II* listed, is amongst the largest and most unique in Britain.
So unique in fact that it could be said that its creator, Gregory Gregory, was Harlaxton’s first changemaker. He eschewed traditional walled garden design and championed the art, science and craft of gardening. He insisted that his walled garden should test a series of innovations such as polygonal walls and compartments to capture the sun, heated walls, and heated and ventilated greenhouses all designed to create microclimates suitable for growing exotic fruits such as vines, pineapples, peaches, apricots and cucumbers.
The kitchen gardens are … unlike any others to be found in Britain. The walls alone cost £10,000, and are extraordinary examples of masonry. Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener (April 1875)
Gregory Gregory was immensely proud of his walled garden, and we believe our plans to restore the walled garden establish a visitor attraction and create a unique multi-purpose student changemaking hub are similarly innovative and ambitious.
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