Arley Hall and Gardens are in Northwich, Cheshire, an area noted for its historic architecture and gently rolling countryside. Frequently used as a film and TV location, this Grade II listed stately home was built in Jacobean style between 1832 and 1845 and is the family home of Viscount Ashbrook. Built in striking red brick, it stands on the site of an earlier timber-framed hall with a moat, built by the same family around 1469.
The main driveway is lined with pleached lime trees planted around 1851. It leads to a 16th Century Cruck Barn complete with gables and a Bavarian-style clock tower added in 1851.
Arley Hall is open to visitors and includes a series of drawing rooms, a grand staircase, the Emperor’s Bedroom (used by Napoleon III in 1847-48) and a library, all featuring beautiful antique furnishings, grand fireplaces and intricate stained glass windows. As well as the main hall, the estate has several lodges built by George Latham, a stone chapel designed by Anthony Salvin, and stables now housing the tearoom.
ARLEY HALL GARDENS
The award-winning gardens are part of the wider 190-hectare park. Listed on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, the original gardens and pleasure grounds were laid out between 1750-65 by William Emes and include the earliest herbaceous border in England thought to be planted in 1851-52. Retaining the original yew buttresses, these herbaceous borders and hence, Arley Hall, significantly influenced garden design in England and abroad. As with many estate gardens, the gardens fell into disrepair during the time of WWII as many able-bodied young men left England for the war effort while ornamental gardens were ripped up as part of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign.
In the 1960s, restoration of the ornamental gardens created in the 19th and 20th centuries were undertaken. Bordering the ornamental gardens is a pleasant walkway with far-reaching views known as Furlong Walk; a furlong being 1/8th mile (approx. 200m). It runs along the edge of the original ha-ha, a sunken ‘fence’ designed to keep animals out of the gardens without spoiling the view. From the Walk, the 90-metre-long double herbaceous border leads to an alcove with decorative buttresses. Yews divide the border into sections with fine topiary at either end. The Walk edges a formal rose garden which is in full bloom in summer. The best place to enjoy the fragrant blooms is from the Tea Cottage complete with fireplace!
Next to the house the lawns include a central yew-hedged circular garden with rows of specimen trees, drawing the eye to the distant hills. Further afield, the Grove Arboretum has a fine selection of specimen trees and shrubs added from 1970 onwards and extending about 400m to the private church.
Admire the fine lines of the cylindrical Holm Oaks, planted around 1850, and follow the steps down to the Sundial Garden with views of Game Park Wood. Other noteworthy features in these extensive gardens include two lakes, the Rootery (similar to a stumpery), a formal Fish Garden with pool and an enchanting wild garden known as The Rough.
It is always a pleasure visiting Arley Hall. Not only is it steeped in history, but the extensive gardens are simply superb and always provide something new and exciting. We do love this garden!
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Images credit: Eliza Ford
Cholmondeley Castle Gardens
Cholmondeley Castle Gardens