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Explore the garden at Moseley Old Hall

View over the Knot Garden to the south front at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire.
View over the Knot Garden to the south front at Moseley Old Hall | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Take a stroll through Moseley’s walled gardens and discover a collection of plants which have been cultivated by gardeners since the 17th century. The intricate knot garden is not to be missed. Outside the garden walls discover King’s Walk Woods for family fun and explore the meadows beyond.

The Orchard

Moseley’s orchard contains more than 20 heritage varieties of apples and pears, many of which have been grown in this country since at least the 17th century. Along with damsons and sloes from the hedgerows, the fruit is harvested in the autumn both for use in the tea-room and to sell onsite.

Apple and pear varieties

One variety of local significance is the Tettenhall Dick pear, which was first established over 200 years ago and named after the Tettenhall area of Wolverhampton. The tree produces small, dry pears described as 'hard as bricks', which are best suited to producing perry, or pear cider.

Other traditional favourites include the Norfolk Biffin which gained popularity among the Victorians as a sweet, baked treat produced by Norwich bakers. Many varieties found their way here from the continent during the 17th century too, including Rambour Franc and Nonpareil apples from France, and Sanguinole pears from Germany.

The Orchard with a bee-bole in the garden wall at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire.
Orchard with a bee-bole in the garden wall at Moseley Old Hall | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

The Knot Garden

Knot gardens were developed towards the end of the Tudor period and consisted of formal patterns of aromatic herbs or shrubs laid out within a rectangular frame. The more intricate or ‘beknotted’ the better.

The design of Moseley’s knot garden was adapted from one of four laid out by the Rev. Walter Stonehouse between 1631 and 1640 at his rectory in Darfield, South Yorkshire. An ‘open knot’ garden like Moseley’s is simpler, but more extensive than its more intricate, small-scale ‘closed knot’ counterpart. The open knots were intended as a place to grow plants as well as an exercise in geometry.

A garden for the wealthy

The knot garden has its annual trim in the summer, a task that takes several weeks. It is partly for this reason that knot gardens, parterres and other topiary were historically considered as status symbols, as only a well-off household could afford to pay someone to maintain the intricate patterns of hedges.

Kitchen and herb gardens

From medicine and cooking to potpourri and love-potions, a 17th-century garden would have kept the household stocked with whatever herbs it might require during everyday life.

Why not see how many you can recognise by sight or scent in the kitchen and herb gardens? Or check out the long border in the Orchard where you will find plants that can be used to produce natural dyes.

Explore the woods

Through the Orchard gate lies King's Walk Woods, where you'll find the den-building area and three-storey tree hide. Venture out from beneath the trees to explore the meadow, can you spot a bird of prey flying by?

Children in the adventure play area at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire
Children in the adventure play area at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Family fun and '50 things to do before you’re 11¾'

There are lots of opportunities for family fun in the grounds at Moseley. Here are our top things to try from the '50 things to do before you’re 11¾' list:

No. 1 Get to know a tree (hide)

Disappear from view in the secret tree hide, deep in the King’s Walk wood. Are you brave enough to climb to the top?

No. 9 Eat a picnic in the wild

You are welcome to picnic anywhere in the gardens; there are some lovely picnic tables in the farmyard, or why not find a spot in the meadow?

No. 13 Make a mud creation

In the woods there is a great mud-pie kitchen waiting for very creative cooks. There are no pots and pans but there is plenty of mud! Feel free to bring your own from home and cook up something extra tasty.

No. 18 Create some wild art

Let nature inspire you – why not make a frame using sticks then fill in your 'canvas' with natural materials you find on the woodland floor?

No. 31 Make friends with a bug

There are lots of bugs to find around Moseley. Why not lead your very own bug-hunting expedition? Listen to what you can hear buzzing in the meadow and see what creepy crawlies you can discover in the woods.

A view of the house through the garden at Moseley Old Hall, with a stone path between the lawns leading to the front door and climbing plants around the door

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