The Apprentice House garden

Surrounding the Apprentice House was a small kitchen garden, overseen by a head gardener and tended by the apprentices in the little spare time they had when not working at the Mill.

Such activity was seen as wholesome and preventing the children from becoming idle. The garden produced vegetables, fruits and herbs to feed the apprentices and the Greg family. With the introduction of legislation later in the 19th century which restricted and eventually forbade the use of child labour, the need for the Apprentice House and its garden at Quarry Bank declined and it was afterwards converted into at least two private dwellings.

Medicine

The use of herbs was far more widespread in past centuries than today. They were grown for all manner of purposes, both medicinal and culinary. The apprentices were fortunate in having the services of Doctor Peter Holland, who looked after their major illnesses. For minor ailments the superintendent at the Apprentice House concocted varies herbal remedies. Some of the most common herbs grown were probably borage, camomile, chives, fennel, rosemary, rue, sage, tarragon, thyme and yarrow.

Growing vegetables in 18th and 19th-century gardens was not a hobby, as it mostly is now, but in many cases a necessity to supplement the often meagre diets of the working class. At Quarry Bank Mill the vegetables grown were of the more basic kind, such as potatoes, cabbages, peas, beans, carrots, turnips and leeks: simple, wholesome crops that gave good yields.

The garden today

As part of its continuing programme to restore Quarry Bank, the Trust has recreated the garden as it probably was in about 1830. A great deal of research has been carried out to establish authentic plants that might have been grown by studying contemporary seed catalogues. No plans of the original garden layout have survived, but the present design is thought to be accurate and typical of the period.