The Gardens of Nostell

Pause for a while to delight in the ambience of birdsong, the gentle buzz of insects and the seasonal glory of one three beautiful gardens that are as different as they are spectacular on any given day.

Rose Garden and Orangery

Beside the cool white walls of the orangery are plenty of places to pause and savour the heady scents of the rose garden and beyond.

The spectacular climbing iceberg rose, which has an equally spectacular story, spans the entire length of the100m redbrick wall leading along to the orchard and Rhubarb Row.

Gentle waters ripple in the rose garden fountain, a slumbering witness to tales of romance and magic from generations past and a vessel for coins of all colours, cast in search of wishes and catching the light fantastic on bright sunny days.

Many visitors follow the melancholy gaze of the fountain statue beyond the manicured seasonal borders to the kitchen garden and the beautifully clipped-lavender boulevard bordering the vegetable and fruit quadrants.

Those with a keen eye may just spot the tops of exotic banana palms swaying sedately beyond the crescent-shaped hedge.

Take in the perfume of hyacinths and sunshine colours of daffodils in the Kitchen Garden
Daffodils and hyacinths in Nostell's Kitchen Garden
Take in the perfume of hyacinths and sunshine colours of daffodils in the Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden and Orchard

Nostell’s working kitchen garden is alive with bees and birds mingling with sounds of steel as gardeners plant, tend and harvest more than 100 different crops, many of which are destined for our courtyard cafe and donation stall.

The growing espalier of rare heritage pear trees, bordering the orchard's miandering wildflower paths and peaceful benches, are inspired by original Georgian grand plans by garden designer and author of The Practical Fruit Gardener, Stephen Switzer.

It realises part of Switzer's 1731 blueprint never previously liberated from the drawing board, in part due to a change in fashion towards a more natural landscaping approach, with carefully sourced rare plants nutured in the trust's national nursery.

A favourite photo spot lies in the fruit quadrant beneath the canopy of enormous leaves adorning our ever-popular banana palm, flanked by giant artichokes and happily growing tall in tropical climes of West Yorkshire along with apples in the orchard, much-adored giant onions and 19 varieties of our famous rhubarb.

Our garden team also care for several varieties of squash, ready to warm stomachs as a hearty soup or delight eyes as a candlelit carving when the days carry a chill and the nights draw in.

Marvel at the autumn colour of Nostell's gardens
The gardens in autumn at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire
Marvel at the autumn colour of Nostell's gardens

Menagerie Garden

Through the gothic archway lies a long-forgotten world housed within the historic menagerie garden.  Within stone walls and beneath a woodland canopy, the garden was created in 1743 and is still home to flora and fauna nurtured by generations past.

It bares traces of the majestic animals who once lived within yards of humans in the now abandoned menagerie house, designed by Robert Adam, and on a quiet morning you can almost hear the distant chatter of monkeys, colourful birds and the roar of the famous lioness.

An 1812 poster boasts that Nostell’s ‘black-eyed lioness’ featured in a fair held in nearby Pontefract and became ‘completely unmanageable’ once the clock struck 4pm each day.

The cool reflection of the pond invites visitors to catch a glimpse of the resident frogs and their froglets among the lily pads. Amid tranquil seclusion of this garden, it’s easy to escape the daily grind and become immersed in seasonal delights like wisteria and magnolia, or in tales told long ago yet somehow etched into the statues of magnificent creatures that once roamed here.