Oh Newby Hall! If we were to have a country estate with garden, this one would be it. Newby Hall is one of the greatest examples of Adam architecture in England, and is surrounded by 40 acres of superb gardens bordered by the tranquil River Ure.
Newby Hall in Yorkshire is a Grade I, 18th Century country house containing a collection of Chippendale furniture, paintings and precious artefacts. The house holds one of the finest private collections of Roman statuary in Britain, consisting mainly of pieces from the first and second centuries. Newby Hall was awarded Garden of the Year in 2019 by the Historic Houses Association and Christies.
Sir Edward Blackett 2nd Baronet demolished the existing manor house at Newby and built a mansion in the style of Sir Christopher Wren in 1697. The Blackett family sold the estate to Richard Elcock who bequeathed the estate to his son, William Weddell, in 1762. Weddell engaged Robert Adam to improve and enlarge the house in the 1760s. While some alterations were made in the 19th Century, the house remains an exceptional example of Adam’s work.
Weddell died in 1792 leaving the estate to his relative Thomas Philip Robinson, Lord Grantham. It is thought that Lord Grantham of Newby Hall was the namesake for beloved Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey as many names and places in the television series reflect Newby Hall and its surrounds. The current owners, Mr and Mrs Compton, are matrilineal descendants of William Weddell.
NEWBY HALL GARDENS
The gardens at Newby Hall are mostly the result of the Mr Compton’s grandfather, Major Edward Compton, who inherited Newby in 1921. At this time, the gardens consisted of two Victorian parterres near the house, a rock garden and a lot of rough grass. Perhaps influenced by his friend Major Lawrence Johnston of Hidcote Manor, Major Compton laid out the double herbaceous borders and Statue Walk which bisect the garden. The herbaceous borders are particularly exuberant in summer, with the glowing floral displays contrasted by dark yew hedging.
Beyond the herbaceous borders, the axial formation provides a framework for a series of formal and informal enclosures punctuated by glades and a selection of rare and beautiful trees and shrubs. Sylvia’s garden is a particularly peaceful enclosure with an antique Byzantium corn-grinder as its centrepiece and pastel-coloured plants providing interest throughout the year. Also a favourite of ours is the rock garden which includes cascading water, uneven meandering paths and many original shrubs that have survived for over 100 years.
The garden provides unexpected views and vistas which unfold around corners and clusters of trees, down curvilinear pathways and through monogrammed gates. Statues, urns and structural elements are enveloped by greenery softening their formality and providing a sense of permanence. Great pride has been taken in the collection of lesser-known and rare varieties; the garden being filled with extensive collections of magnolias, rhododendrons, roses and salvia as well as containing the National Collection of Cornus.
Newby Hall is a wonderful garden that really has it all. From formal borders, to charming garden rooms, rose drenched pergolas and informal glades. Its compartmented layout makes the garden feel intimate and relaxed while the long axial walks provide just the right amount of grandeur and splendour that is befitting for a country estate. This is the perfect place to while away the time.
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Images credit: Eliza Ford