The History of Biddulph Grange Garden

View over the compartmentalised hedging of the Dahlia Walk towards the Shelter House at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire.

Biddulph lies in a valley on the edge of North Staffordshire. James Bateman lived at the southern end of this valley with his family at Knypersley Hall. In 1842 he married Maria and moved to what is now Biddulph Grange Gardens. Up until the Bateman's arrival, the Grange had been a farm, hence the name ‘Grange’, probably since the 1400s. Some of the stonework from the farm buildings can still be seen in the walls of the bookshop.

30 years of the Batemans

James Bateman was here for 30 years from 1842, and built the house as an Italianate villa and the garden, with the help of his friend, the famous marine artist, Edward Cooke.

In 1869 Bateman left the Grange and moved to London where he lived in a house rented from Edward Cooke close to Hyde Park. Bateman left his son John to sell the property, which by the time he left in 1872, had a mortgage of £30,000 which in today’s money is close to £2 million.

The Heath family take ownership

Robert Heath then bought the property and the Heath family lived here for close to 50 years. During their residency, the original house burnt down destroying the central part of the house and the surrounding glass houses and orangery. The middle section of the house is therefore an 1897 rebuild and bears no resemblance to the original house.

Medical history

The Heath family left in 1922 selling the house to the North Staffordshire Cripples Aid Society to use as a hospital. Within 3 years the Society could no longer 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 build new wards and a ‘modern’ hospital complex during which time the house was used as nurses quarters.

Saved by campaigners

In the mid-1970s, the estate was saved when a campaign to have the area put under a conservation order was successful. The hospital (which had been children’s, orthopaedic and geriatric) closed by 1991. The garden, thanks to a large fundraising effort, was bought by the National Trust and opened to visitors in May 1991.

The house remained derelict until a developer bought it and converted it into 9 apartments. The 78 acres of woodland that was part of the Grange estate was taken up by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and is now the Biddulph Country Park.

The National Trust continues to restore the garden with the grateful support of our members, donors and other supporters.