Chirk Castle Gardens are as lovely (even in March) as the Castle itself is interesting. As you can see there are lots of yew trees and hedges all clipped to within an inch of their lives. All the hedges and topiary are 130 years old – and it shows in places. They are almost entirely English yew (Taxus Baccata) and it takes garden staff 6 to 8 weeks to cut with electric shears. Interestingly, two tons of clippings are collected each year and these are processed to make a cancer treatment. In the past all clipping was done by hand but there were many more gardeners then. These days there are 3 gardeners plus a full time apprentice and a team of part time volunteers.
The Hawk House and Long Border today
The Hawk House currently displays pictures and information about the history of the garden which dates back to the 1600s. At this time Sir Robert Myddleton laid out formal gardens to complement the work he was doing on the house. A bit later the Davies gates were made and erected at the north front. They were later moved to their present position near the entrance drive. In the 18th century the garden was totally remodelled as was the fashion following the influence of Capability Brown, William Kent and other Georgian landscape designers.
The present garden of clipped yews and formality dates back to the late 1800s. During the 1900s a long 80m herbaceous border was established but this had to be abandoned during the second world war due to a lack of gardening staff.
As its name suggests the Hawk House itself originally housed a collection of falconry.
The Obligatory Pet Cemetery
I’m so glad that we managed to spend a whole day at Chirk and the visit was well worth while. We were very lucky with the weather since it rained all of the next day.
Arriving at Chirk Castle
Started in 1295, Chirk Castle was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses sited on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Last Thursday was a glorious spring day and ideal for a visit to this beautiful location. There’s a longish approach to the Castle from the village of Chirk. You pass the wrought iron gates commissioned by Sir Richard Myddleton and built between 1712 and 1719. They were originally at the Castle but moved to their present location in 1888.
On Saturday I did something that I had long hoped to do and that was to walk along the narrow path beside the Llangollen Canal over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. I first heard about this huge feat of Georgian construction (1795-1805) on a school Geography field trip to North Wales exactly 50 years ago. We were travelling from Norwich to Snowdonia and as we passed along the Dee Valley on the A5 through Llangollen Mr Powell told us about the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Yesterday I picked up friend Ann from her home in Widnes and we’re now spending a few days ‘Sleeping with Books‘ at Gladstone’s Library. After my two-night stay last year I thought it would be interesting to spend a few days in the area and in particular to visit Chirk Castle, which has been on my ‘list’ for a long time.
Widnes is only just over half an hour from Hawarden (home to Gladstone’s Library) and Ann wanted to show me a few sights in her local area. Our first stop was to view the new bridge, The Mersey Gateway Bridge, currently edging its way across the River Mersey.
The weekend before last I spent three nights staying near Bury St Edmunds at a National Trust cottage on the Ickworth Estate. A friend and I stopped to visit Ely Cathedral on our journey down from Yorkshire on Friday; we visited Bury St Edmunds Cathedral and The Moyses Hall Museum on Saturday and our plan for Sunday was to walk The Ickworth Grand Tour Walk. The IGTW is a seven mile walk that begins at the NT car park. In our case, we could begin it from our Horringer Park Gates front door.
Horringer Park Gates at Ickworth Main Entrance
Welcome to The Grange
St Edward’s Presbytery on St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate is just part of the original religious community that was Pugin’s master plan.
Tuesday was the only day we left the immediate surroundings of Ramsgate and we drove just five miles away to Margate to the recently opened and much acclaimed Turner Contemporary. We parked nearby and paid for three hours in the car park thinking that would be quite long enough to see the Gallery (as we are not into modern art), walk along the front and the Harbour Arm (jetty) and investigate the town centre. In the end we spent over two hours in the Turner, including a quick bite to eat in the airy cafe, and had quick walk to the end of the Harbour Arm for a view of the gallery and a breath of fresh air. It was a 10 minute walk back to the car park and we realised that we had Landmark Withdrawal Symptoms and drove straight back to the Presbytery to build up the fire for the evening.