The Gardens of Nostell

Red acer in the Menagerie Garden at Nostell near Wakefield.

Pause for a while to enjoy the ambience of birdsong, gentle buzz of insects and seasonal delights within the pleasure grounds and gardens, which are as different as they are spectacular on any given day.

Rose Garden and Orangery

Beside the light lemon 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.

Visitors exploring the rose garden at Nostell Priory
Visitors exploring the rose garden at Nostell Priory
Visitors exploring the rose garden at Nostell Priory

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.

Kitchen Garden

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.

Towering banana palms usually fruit each summer in Nostell's kitchen garden
A gardener admires the banana palms in Nostell's kitchen gardens
Towering banana palms usually fruit each summer in Nostell's kitchen garden

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.

Discover the enchanting Menagerie Garden with its fairytale house, designed by Robert Adam
The Menagerie House by Robert Adam at Nostell, near Wakefield
Discover the enchanting Menagerie Garden with its fairytale house, designed by Robert Adam

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.

A family in the pleasure grounds at Nostell
 A family in the pleasure grounds at Nostell Priory and Parkland, Yorkshire
A family in the pleasure grounds at Nostell

Pleasure Grounds

Sweet chestnuts and oaks form a natural guard of honour for those enjoying a leisurely stroll along the pleasure ground’s circular pathway in the footsteps of the Victorians and Georgians, who would have also seen the Lower Lake sparkling like a jewel on the near horizon.

A spectacular floral display awakes the woodland floor from winter slumber each year, with an abundance of daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells and foxgloves carpeting the Pleasure Grounds from March to late spring.

Nostell's team are raising funds to plant more bulbs and shrubs within the hollows and beside the winding paths of this enchanting space.