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The kitchen garden at The Workhouse

A gardener at the left hand side of the photo holding a rake in the lavendar section of the kitchen garden in front of The Workhouse, Southwell, Nottinghamshire
A dedicated team of volunteers look after the kitchen garden at The Workhouse, Southwell, Nottinghamshire | © National Trust

The garden in The Workhouse was both a place of labour and a source of food. Visit the garden today and discover the wide variety of heritage and seasonal fruits and vegetables that are grown, recreating days of old.

Heritage varieties abound

The Workhouse vegetable garden has always played an important role in the lives of inmates, be it labouring in the garden, spreading night soil or harvesting produce.

Today, you can sample the plentiful supply of vegetables and admire the heritage varieties grown while reflecting on your visit to The Workhouse.

Gardeners working in the recreated 19th century garden at The Workhouse, Southwell, Nottinghamshire
Gardeners working in the recreated 19th century garden at The Workhouse | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Gardeners’ delight

The team of volunteer gardeners at The Workhouse labour long and hard to re-create the vegetable garden that would have served the needs of the staff and inmates in Victorian times.

Most of the vegetables and fruit grown are heritage varieties in a range of colours and always bursting with flavour.

Seasonal offerings 

The vegetable garden has something to offer each season from Victoria and Albert rhubarb in early spring to marrows and squashes which add a splash of colour in the autumn.

In 2019, the hardworking gardeners sowed British Queen potatoes, beetroot varieties in traditional red but also yellow and white.

Look out for Barabietola di Choggia beetroot, which has red and white rings. You can eat it raw when it is cut into thin slices. If the rabbits don’t get there first, we should be cropping the full range of coloured carrots this year.

Originally grown as a medicinal plant, they were even used as an aphrodisiac.   

Dreary diet

The garden you can see today was recreated in 2004 on the site of the original vegetable garden, which provided food for the inmates, with any surplus being sold off to generate income.

The Bramley apple trees are over 100 years old and have a special connection with the local area, as Southwell is the home of the Bramley apple.

The original seedling was planted by a local girl over 200 years ago and the town still hosts an annual celebratory festival in October.  

Pauper pickings

Every Saturday during August, the volunteer gardeners don pauper costumes to tend the gardens (not that easy in heavy skirts and clogs) and help visitors pick vegetables to take home.

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