Belton’s Italian Garden Restoration

A historic photograph from Belton's collection of the deep herbaceous borders running through the centre of the Italian Garden

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.

Perry and Kitty Brownlow in the Italian gardens during their time at Belton
Perry and Kitty Brownlow in the Italian gardens at Belton House
Perry and Kitty Brownlow in the Italian gardens during their time at Belton

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.

A garden planting plan of the Orangery at Belton House
The plans show a garden to the east and west sides and a formal garden at the rear. The plants and flowers are detailed. This could be a Wyatt drawing, although unsigned the colours and writing are similar to known Wyatt drawings.
A garden planting plan of the Orangery at Belton House

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 church and gardens, watercolour by Sophia Cust
Belton church and gardens watercolour by Sophia Cust, Lady Tower
Belton church and gardens, watercolour by Sophia Cust

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.

Lush foliage and exotic blooms inside Belton's Orangery
Inside Beltons Orangery
Lush foliage and exotic blooms inside Belton's Orangery

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.