A unique 18th-century garden

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Wordsworth House has a unique working kitchen garden. It is planted as we think it would have been during the Wordsworths’ time, with heritage varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Everything is grown organically, and the produce is used in the house’s Georgian kitchen, where costumed servants recreate dishes an 18th-century family of the ‘middling sort’ – like the Wordsworths – would have enjoyed.

The garden was devastated by the November 2009 flood that inundated Cockermouth town centre, but the restoration is now almost complete.

We couldn’t begin rebuilding the flood-damaged walls and terrace until May 2010, because lime mortar requires temperatures consistently above 5 degrees.

It also took time to find sandstone of exactly the correct cut and shade, and heritage bricks of just the right size and colour.

In the meantime, Amanda Thackeray, our gardener, was busily tracking down elusive plants, finalising her planting programme, and doing battle against the vast quantity of weeds carried in as seeds with the flood silt.

The box hedges, some of which found a temporary home in the vegetable beds, may take several years to regenerate – we can’t bring in new plants due to the current high risk of box blight.

Although it has been a traumatic time, the flood gave us a wonderful opportunity to make our garden even lovelier – and more authentic – than before.

We have been able to realign the beds in the main area, to rework some of the planting and to redesign our small walled garden.

Thanks to generous financial support from Bovril, we have even built a summerhouse on the terrace where William and Dorothy loved to play – we think they would have approved!