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.
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.
Earlier in the week I decided that on Thursday I’d head off to Fountains Abbey and have a walk, a bite to eat and be home early afternoon. Thursday dawned very frosty but the roads were fine and the car park almost empty when I arrived. I’ve posted several times about my visits to Fountains including here, here and here. But I visit many more times than I have posted – it is just such a beautiful place to walk and think and enjoy the views and the Georgian landscape and its follies.
Sadly, I have to report that The Red House Museum in Gomersal closed its doors for the last time today. I last visited this former home Mary Taylor, a dear friend of Charlotte Brontë, in July for a History Wardrobe performance and I have visited very many times in the past. We signed the petition but to no avail.
On Friday I’ll have been in the southwest for two weeks enjoying stays in favourite places : Lyme Regis, Ashburton and now Chagford. One of Sir Edwin Lutyens‘s masterpieces Castle Drogo is just a few miles away from our cottage and I decided to revisit on this glorious autumn dayVisitor Centre at Castle Drogo
To break my journey down to the southwest I decided to call at Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire for a few hours. I began my visit with lunch in the Servants’ Hall and spent the rest of my time in the splendid gardens.
There are countless pretty villages and cottages in Surrey but Hambledon and the National Trust preserved Oakhurst Cottage take some beating. Initially, I saw the place on one of my first visits to Surrey last January and I made a mental note to book a tour in the summer.