Gardens at Nostell Priory
You'll find a rich variety of landscapes and wildlife in the gardens at Nostell Priory. Here are some top tips of things to look out for as you explore each one.
The recently created Kitchen Garden is located behind the Orangery and consists of an orchard newly planted with historic Yorkshire apple trees, vegetable patches, a herbaceous border and bright flowers planted to attract pollenating insects.
The vegetables grown are true to those available in the 1700s and 1800s, including onions, lettuce, tomatoes and 19 varieties of rhubarb. Mark, the Kitchen Gardener, nurtures and harvests the produce to be used by the catering team in the dishes you’ll find in the Courtyard Café. As you enjoy the scents and colours of this varied garden, don’t miss the 100 metre stretch of white flowering iceberg roses.
If you follow the winding paths beyond the Middle Lake, you’ll find the secluded Menagerie Garden, created in 1743. The Menagerie House, designed by Robert Adam, was once home to exotic species, from monkeys and colourful birds to lions. In fact a recently discovered poster from 1812 boasts that Nostell’s ‘black-eyed lioness’ featured in a fair held in the local town, Pontefract. The story goes that once the clock struck 4pm each day, she became completely unmanageable!
As you enter the garden through the gothic arch, look out for roosting bats at dusk and marvel at the great Holm Oak with it’s knarled trunk, which is home to a variety of birds, bugs and creepy crawlies.
To take in the varied landscape of the pleasure grounds, follow the circular path through the woodland of sweet chestnuts and oaks, making your way towards the Lower Lake. Bring your camera on a hazy summer’s day, as the boat house and adjacent bridge are picture perfect. As you make your way back up to the Middle Lake, you’ll see an impressive cascade flowing over the stone Druid’s Bridge. The Pleasure Grounds come to life in spring with daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells and foxgloves flowering March to June.
Keen nature-spotters will not be disappointed as the woodland, lakes and surrounding areas are home to many species. Listen out for the woodpeckers, of which there are three varieties; green, lesser spotted and great. Also keep your eyes peeled for herons, swans and ducks as you walk along the lakeside paths, lucky visitors may even spot a resident kingfisher.