Part 1 HERE
WARNING- long post alert, short attention spanners cease here. 🙂
I neglected to tell the History of Alnwick Gardens in part 1, so I’ll remedy that here.
The History Bit
Adjacent to Alnwick Castle, the gardens have a long history under the Dukes of Northumberland but fell into disrepair until revived at the turn of the 21st century.
The first garden was made by the 1st Duke of Northumberland in 1750 and he employed Capability Brown, a great English architect and known in the 18th century as Englands greatest gardener. He designed over 170 parks/gardens, many of which are still up and running so the title is warranted I think.
The 3rd Duke was a plant collector, and brought loads of plants and seeds back from all around the world, leading to a century of development in the gardens. In the middle of the 19th century, the 4th Duke created an Italianate garden featuring a large conservatory, and at the end of the century, the gardens were at their grandest, with yew topiary, avenues of limes and acres of flowers.
Then WW2 happened, and the gardens were given over to planting and growing food, this was called the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, so with that and the subsequent austerity of the 20th century, the Garden fell into disrepair, and it was closed in 1950.
The restoration of the gardens was instigated and carried out by the Duchess of Northumberland, and really I can’t separate her history from the gardens.
Isobel Jane Miller met Lord Ralph Percy at a birthday party when they were 16 & 17 respectively, and both then went on to Oxford University, and then got married, inspite of their parents telling them they were too young. They’re still together and have 4 children. The couple lived in a farmhouse in Northumberland until 1995, when Ralph’s brother Henry, 11th Duke of Northumberland, died from heart failure after an overdose of amphetamines. Bit of a lad he was. Consequently Ralph became the 12th Duke, and Jane became the 1st Duchess of Northumberland not to come from titled aristocracy. Apparently she wasn’t happy in the ducal role until her hubby asked her to renovate the gardens. She started the work on the garden in 2000, and turned it into one of North East England’s biggest visitor attractions, as well as one of the country’s most controversial ones. A practising martial arts enthusiast, she introduced cage boxing to The Alnwick Gardens and a range of cocktails named after her. The Duchess, who claims to defy tradition, and who can disagree? has received praise and scorn for The Alnwick Gardens, but has dismissed criticism as “the snobbery element of gardening”. The locals welcomed the restoration and the influx of tourists, ker~ching! while English Heritage accused the Duchess of destroying one of the greatest gardens in England. Not that they offered to restore it, or contribute. In 2004, she was hospitalised after collapsing under pressure, and the criticism made her consider resigning the trusteeship and giving up on the project. But she rallied herself round and in 2012, announced her plan to finish reconstruction of The Alnwick Garden by May 2015, which she accomplished, and then stepped down from managing it to concentrate on her work with over 160 charities. The gardens now have a management company and a board of trustees. I don’t mind the aristocracy (too much) when they’re giving back, and not just leeching around.
Anyway on to the water features, the main one is the central arcade, a fountain display goes off every half hour
A new garden added to The Alnwick Garden. The serpent garden, designed by Peter Wirtz, includes 8 water features by William Pye which show a different aspect of the behaviour of water. They demonstrate the way water splashes, trickles, flows, clings, forms waves and reflects. You can guess which is which.
Well done if you stayed to the end, and thanks,
pictures as always are embiggenable with a click. 😀