Belton’s Italian Garden Restoration
Plans have been progressing over the last five years to restore the formal Italian Garden to its glory days, as it would have looked in the 1930’s.
Before the First World War, Belton would have drawn on the services of some 30 gardeners. But Country Houses went into decline in the inter-war period, and the number of gardeners was significantly reduced to allow for the changing financial priorities of the Brownlow family. Over time many of the important features of the Italian Garden were lost, and we’re now working to restore these important garden elements.
Photographs and plans from the 1930’s show a trellis attached to the northern walls of the Orangery, more detailed bedding schemes and an elaborate cast-iron pergola around the fountain. The fountain forms the centrepiece of this garden, as water is a prominent feature in an Italian garden. We’ve been working to stabilise the low stone walls that surround the fountain, in the hope that we can raise funds to restore the cast iron pergola in future.
More recently, we cut back the overgrown yew bushes enabling us to restore the parterres that surround the Orangery. In August 2017 we worked with a local blacksmith to re-introduce eight metal flower baskets, last seen in the 1940’s before they were sent off for scrap during the war.
Belton’s Head Gardener, Jon, has worked from historic plans, photos and paintings to select the plants and recreate the deep herbaceous borders running through the centre of the Italian Garden. More specifically, Sophia Cust’s watercolour paintings of the Italian Garden, clearly show the presence of the trellis and flower baskets in the mid-nineteenth century.
Designed by Jeffry Wyatville in 1810 and built in 1820, Belton’s Orangery was the first cast iron garden building of its type in England. Wyatville’s design was shown at the Royal Academy. To mark its anniversary, we’ve changed the colour of the woodwork from white to green, in keeping with its original colour. The windows now look less prominent, accentuating the slim stone piers on either side.
While there’s no fixed timeframe for this project, 2020 marks the 200th anniversary of the Italian Garden and Orangery, a symbolic target to aim for.