The history of Biddulph Grange Garden

View over the compartmentalised hedging of the Dahlia Walk towards the Shelter House at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire.
Discover years of history National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

Biddulph is a valley on the edge of Staffordshire. James Bateman lived at the southern end of this valley, in the 1800s, at Knypersley Hall, until he married and moved to what is now Biddulph Grange Gardens. Up until this point the Grange had been a farm, hence the name ‘Grange’, probably since the 1400s, some of the stonework from the farm buildings can be still be seen in the walls of the audio visual room.

30 years of the Batemans

Bateman was here for 30 years and built the house as an Italianate villa and the garden, with the help of his friend the famous marine artist Edward Cook.
After 30 years Bateman left and moved to Worthing, leaving one of his sons to sell the property, which at the time had a mortgage of £30,000 which in today’s money is close to £2million.

The Heath take ownership

Robert Heath then bought the property and the Heath family also lived here for 30 years. During their residency the original house burnt down destroying the central part of the house and the surrounding glass houses and orangey.
The middle section of the house is therefore an 1897 rebuild and bears no resemblance to the original house.

Medical history

The Heaths left in 1922 selling the house to the North Staffordshire Cripples Aid Society to use as a hospital, within 3 years they couldn’t afford it so it went to Lancashire County Council as a hospital.
They built wooden wards on the Cherry Orchard and later in the 1930s knocked down the remaining glass houses and part of the geological gallery to built new wards and a ‘modern’ hospital complex – the actual house was used as nurses quarters.

Saved by campaigners

In the mid 1970s, the estate was finally saved as campaigners won to have the area put under a conservation order.  
The hospital (which had been children’s, orthopaedic and geriatric) closed by 1991 and the we opened the garden in May the same year.
The house remained derelict until a developer bought it and converted it into 9 apartments and the 78 acres of woodland that was part of the Grange estate was taken up by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.