Heywood Gardens : Formal and Romantic


Just before my Ireland trip I read the book “Gardens of a Golden Afternoon : The Story of a Partnership, Edwin Lutyens & Gertrude Jekyll; by Jane Brown.  Amongst all the house and garden descriptions od collaborations was one combination in Ireland which I knew to be very near my route through Co. Laois. The house no longer exists but Heywood Gardens survived and at the time of Jane writing was under the care of the Salesian Fathers’ Missionary College. Today the Office Public Works maintains the gardens which are now in the grounds of a school.

the school

The School

original house

heywood house

Heywood House

In 1773 Frederick Trench built the house on rolling countryside above the village of Ballinakill and established a Romantic Landscape in the immediate estate. By the early 20th century the house and grounds had passed to a Colonel Hutcheson Pöe a distant descendant of Trench. In 1906 Pöe commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to design a new series of gardens which are now the focal point of the estate.

House occupants

Completed in 1912, the property consists of gardens, lakes, woodland and architectural features. It was transferred to State ownership in November 1993 from the Salesian Fathers who had taken care of it since 1941. The formal Gardens form the centre-piece of the property and were designed by the famous architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) and probably landscaped by Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932). It is one of four Gardens in this country designed by him, the others being in the War Memorial Park, Lambay Island and Howth Castle. The Gardens are composed of four elements linked by a terrace that ran along the front of the house which now no longer exists. An extensive re-planting programme is currently underway.” [Heritage Ireland]

Garden sign

The four elements (as defined by me!) : A Pleached Walk

Pleached walk

Pleached Lime Trees

An Italian Garden

Italian garden

The Italian Garden with Oval Pool

Described in the book “This Italian garden is a walled oval, with tiers of retaining walls and borders, and a perfect pool guarded by stone turtles in the centre. What may not be appreciated on the ground, but can be seen from the plan, is the subtle change of shapes from the outer walls of the garden to achieve the perfect oval for the central pool.”

turtle guard

Turtle Guard


A Yew Walk

lutyens benches

In the Hidden Gardens of the Yew Walk with Lutyens designed Benches

And a Lawn with Pergola beside


The House stood on the grassy bank before it was demolished



lake view

With Lake View

In addition to the Lutyens/Jekyll collaboration much of the older Romantic Landscape and Pleasure Garden of follies and lakes and trees and seats. You have to walk through much of this in order to reach the formal garden. And after visiting the Lutyens Garden (as it is called) I took a turn around the lake.

There’s a Grotto :


The Grotto surrounded by dense woodland


The Obelisk serves as a memorial and milestone


sham castle

A Sham Castle Built as a Ruin and never intended to be completed

gothic ruin

And Gothic Ruin – Apparently an Authentic Medieval Window from Nearby Aghaboe Abbey


A Gothic Orangery Where Family and Friends may have taken tea under the orange trees


The Lake

This was a perfect stop-off along my route. There are no refreshments to be had and I only noticed a group of 4 other adults inspecting the formal garden and a young couple with a baby picnicking on the Lawn. But then I had already eaten well at the Gallic Kitchen in nearby Abbeyleix.

Footloose in the Scottish Borders

When it came to deciding last autumn which of the ATG programme of Footloose independent walks to choose for this summer’s expedition we found that we are running out of level 2/3 walks in places that we thought would be interesting. We also considered a return to Northumberland where we spent 4 self-catering holidays (before taking up this hotel-to-hotel walking lark) and where there is still so much to see and do. In the end I came up with the idea that we should do the 5 Day Scottish Borders Walk and follow this with a 3 night recovery period in a cottage in Northumberland. So this was what we did the last week in June. Our cottage was right on the Border just outside Cornhill-on-Tweed.


Lightpipe Cottage near Cornhill-on-Tweed

This was the ATG 5 Day programme :

Day 1 : Arrive in the “Royal Burgh” of Jedburgh, a pretty Borders abbey town.

Jedburgh Abbey1

Jedburgh Abbey

MQS House

Mary Queen of Scots House, Jedburgh

MQS sign

Possibly Mary Queen of Scots visited this house

Day 2 : Jedburgh to Dryburgh: Follow a stretch of Dere Street – the Roman Road between York and Scotland, along farm tracks and winding Tweed riverside paths to Dryburgh – an undulating walk, offering stunning views from the Roman road (10.5 miles, 5 hrs).

Day 1 view a

Borders View on Day 2 Walk

Day 1 view b

The Eildon Hills from the Dere Street

R Tweed

River Tweed between St Boswell’s and Dryburgh

St Cuthbert's Route

Much of our route shared with St Cuthbert’s Way

Day 3 : Dryburgh to Melrose: Walk up to the viewpoint, beloved of Sir Walter Scott, before descending to the Victorian viaduct at Leaderfoot, where three bridges converge. Then walk up to the viewpoints over the former Roman settlement at Trimontium, before following paths to the foot of the Eildon Hills. Walk around the northern flanks of the hills and down to Melrose, with its magnificent Abbey (7.5 miles, 4 hours).

Scot's View

Scott’s View

Day 2 Leaving Trimontium

Pleasant Path on Day 3


Leaderfoot Bridges

Day 2 path

Flanking the Eildon Hills

Day 4 : Melrose to Selkirk: Take a riverside walk before visiting Sir Walter Scott’s baronial mansion at Abbotsford. A steady long climb over paths and farm tracks and a section of ancient drove road lead down into Selkirk, where the courthouse used by Sir Walter Scott can be found near the town square (11.6 miles, 6 hours).

River Walk

Riverside Walk Outside Melrose

Lunch stop

Lunch Stop at the Highest Point of the Walk


Sir Walter Scott and his Courthouse, Selkirk

Day 5 : Departure day. [We visited Abbotsford House instead of on Day 4]

This walk particularly appealed to us as it is “rich in history and folklore” and “an unspoilt landscape”. It is the “soft, rolling countryside beloved of Sir Walter Scott” and we would “follow the banks of the winding rivers Teviot and Tweed through heather-clad hills” and we should have the opportunity to “visit Dryburgh Abbey and Abbotsford House”.


Abbotsford House



Remember the old school days?

exam paper

Well, Lucy Adlington (who IS the History Wardrobe) does. And so do I. On Sunday afternoon I was at The Red House in Gomersal with friend Clare to be entertained again by Lucy and Meridith  in the latest History Wardrobe World Premiere presentation Jolly Hockeysticks!

Jolly Hockeysticks is a simply smashing show about school days and school stories, whether you’re a fan of Malory Towers or Angela Brazil. Our blue-stocking Headmistress celebrates the often-untold tales of pioneers in education for girls, while the irrepressible school pupil models school uniform and gym kit galore!

Headmistress Miss Bullocks

Miss Bullocks addresses the class

Enter Miss Bullocks headmistress, complete with cane, in gown and mortar board, sensible shoes and starchy blouse and the show (and the fun) began. With examples of girls school uniforms since the 19th century and throwing in other school memories which most of us could relate to, unlike school lessons, 90 minutes passed in an instant.

Bunty on naughty step

Meridith Towne alias Bunty Applebottom

Bunty's gym slip

Some of us actually liked our gym slips!

Navy gym knickers

Our famous navy gym knickers – complete with hanky-pocket

lost in st trinians

Lost in St Trinians

school needlework

In first year needlework we all made a pinny or apron for second year cookery

school sports

School sportswear – much the same as mine

summer uniform

Summer Uniform




First Day at Grammar School, 1963

The origin of the bluestocking

The Blue Stocking!

The afternoon was not entirely devoted to school girls but Lucy also presented us with brief resumé of women’s education from the 18th century Circle of Bluestockings

The Bluestocking Circle may have started out as a coherent London-based group, but in the 1770s and 1780s the bluestockings developed into a broader social and literary network in which friendship, charity and female education were celebrated as the foundation of modern civilised society, both in London and the regions.” [source]

 to women at university and facts like this:

Studying at a women’s college at Cambridge or Oxford, and passing the examinations, did not mean that women received degrees. To use Girton as an example, the college was not linked to the University but maintained an unofficial relationship with it until well into the twentieth century. Women were not awarded degrees on an equal basis to men at Cambridge until 1948, partly because if women had degrees they would also have the privileges that came them, i.e. equal status, voting rights and a share in the governance of the institution.” [source]

women at oxbridge

Women at University in the early 20th century

The session was rounded off with a run down of women (many of whom most of us have never heard) who have played a prominent role in our education through the years. And Lucy ended with a quote from Malala Yousafzai (and I think it was this one):

I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” [source]


Where are they now?

I’m in Norfolk now and I’ll be meeting up with third from the left on the front row on Monday.

The Company of Trees : Tullynally Castle Arboretum

Earlier this year I read and enjoyed Thomas Pakenham’s ‘The Company of Trees’. Thomas Pakenham wrote the book as a form of diary for the year 2013 mainly about his interest in conserving trees on his estate at Tullynally Castle in Ireland and collecting seeds for further propagation from distant areas in in the world. During that year he travelled to Tibet and China and the Andes. He peppered the diary with other information about the gardens/arboretum at Tullynally and much more personal information besides. In this was it differed from his previous tree books – Meetings with Remarkable Trees; Remarkable Trees of the World; In search of Remarkable Trees; The Remarkable Baobab.



When the programme for this year’s Buxton Festival was published I noticed that Thomas Pakenham would be speaking. I asked the friends who I usually attend the Festival with as to whether we could visit the Festival that day – which was on Tuesday 12 July. We booked two other Festival events and a Fringe event “Romeo and Juliet Underground” performed in Poole’s Cavern.

Acclaimed historian and bestselling author Thomas Pakenham recounts his personal quest to establish a large arboretum at his family estate Tullynally, his forays to other tree-filled parks and plantations, his often hazardous seed-hunting expeditions, and his efforts to preserve magnificent old trees and historic woodlands. He tells of his travels to the Tibetan border in search of a magnolia (magnolias are Pakenham’s particular passion) and to Eastern Patagonia to see the last remaining giants of the monkey puzzle tree; the terrible storms breaking the backs of majestic trees which have stood sentinel for hundreds of years, or a fire in the 50-acre peat bog on Tullynally; his fear of climate change and disease, or the sturdy young sapling which gave him hope for the future.” [From the Festival Programme]


Thomas Pakenham at his book signing

As expected Mr Pakenham (actually, the current Earl of Longford) gave a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting illustrated talk covering some aspects included in the book but leaving much to be discovered by everyone queueing to have their book signed by the author.

My memories went back to my recent trip to Ireland and our visit to Tullynally Castle Garden and Arboretum.

castle terrace

The terraces were made in the early 1900s to provide grass tennis courts and croquet lawn. But the park beyond the balustrade was created in the late 18th century and replaced the formal canals and basins of the French style. In the distance is conical hill Knock Eyon.

Tullynally Castle

The Victorian Gothic Tullynally Castle

The grotto

The Grotto

Carving in grotto

gothic panelling

The Grotto built of eroded limestone from nearby Lough Derravaragh. The Gothic panelling and carving were made by Antoine Pierson in 2003.

water feature

The Weeping Pillar of eroded limestone a favourite Regency device

yew hedges

The Avenue of 200 year old Irish Yews: the gate is framed by two sphinxes, known locally as “merrymaids” which once adorned a classical entrance gate

new summerhouse

The new summerhouse framed by two Nandi (or sacred Indian bulls)

fossil tree

The Fossil Tree. This is the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, known only from 60 million year old fossils until 1941 when it was discovered growing in a remote valley in Western China by a young Chinese forester. The seeds were brought to Europe eight years later. This one was planted in 1975.

tibetan garden

The Tibetan Garden made in 1997 as a home for plants collected as seed by Thomas Pakenham on a botanical expedition to Tibet. The hut below was copied from a Tibetan shrine.

tibetan shrine

chinese garden

The Chinese Garden was established since 1994 from seeds brought back by Thomas Pakenham from Yunnan Province in China. The pagoda was built locally and the plants here and on the Forest Walk through and beyond the garden are Chinese acid-loving magnolias, lilies and rhododendrons.

lakeside walk

The Forest Walk by the Lower Lake

QV's summerhouse

Queen Victoria’s Summer House copied from an old photograph of the Summer House at Frogmore, Windsor and built by Antoine Pierson in 1996

viewing mound

We climbed the Viewing Mound at the far end of the Forest Walk and this was the view :

VM view

What a beautiful garden and woodland full of interest including natural and manmade features. I’m so glad that it lay on our route between Co. Cavan and Birr, Co. Offaly.


Elizabeth Bowen and The Shelbourne Hotel

Shelbourne book

Last September when I met up with my online book group friend sherry in Marion, Massachusetts she presented me with a copy of Elizabeth Bowen‘s ‘The Shelbourne Hotel : an enchanting account […] of the hotel that for more than a century has been at the heart of Irish life’. Tucked inside the book was this postcard (no date, but probably early 20th century) :

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Ancient Ireland [9] : Newgrange and The Hill of Tara

Last year on my final day in southern Ireland I travelled up to County Fermanagh in the north via Bru na Boinne or Newgrange the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in Co. Meath. I approached the site from the west and toddled a long a very quiet road, turned into the car park and was stunned to find it full of cars and coaches. Apparently from the other direction traffic comes directly from the M1 Dublin-Belfast motorway.



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