Cannon Hall gardens and parklands to be restored to their former Georgian glory

Fairyland adds a sprinkle of magic dust to a stroll around the grounds

Fairyland adds a sprinkle of magic dust to a stroll around the grounds - Credit: Archant

Cannon Hall gardens are getting a £3million spruce up as the museum celebrates a milestone anniversary

A carpet of flowers in bloom at Cannon Hall

A carpet of flowers in bloom at Cannon Hall - Credit: Archant

There has been a grand manor on the outskirts of Cawthorne in South Yorkshire since the 13th century. At ‘just’ 60 years old, Cannon Hall’s museum is a mere stripling in comparison.

But that doesn’t mean its milestone diamond anniversary isn’t worth celebrating. In fact, there’s quite a shindig in the offing on June 4th, with 15 groups of Morris dancers (surely that’s enough), Cawthorne Brass Band, arts, crafts, games and an all-important beer tent, all organised by The Friends of Cannon Hall.

As a bit of a birthday bonus, Cannon Hall also recently announced that work was starting on restoring its 70 acres of gardens and parkland to its former Georgian glory, thanks to a whopping £3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme.

The grant means beautiful details like this summerhouse will get the TLC they deserve

The grant means beautiful details like this summerhouse will get the TLC they deserve - Credit: Archant

The three-year revamp will include the restoration and repair of key original features, some of which have never been seen by the public, with the aim of giving the visitor attraction a firmer footing on the tourist map.

An intact ice house built in the 1700s will be revealed and a two-acre area of woodland behind the walled garden will be cleared and opened up for educational tours and activities.

The lakes of the park will be dredged and restored, improving their appearance and water quality and supporting biodiversity. Once completed, visitors will be able to hire rowing boats and fishing equipment, emulating popular Georgian pastimes.

New paths will be created around the site, allowing wheelchair access to all areas, including the lakeside, and an adventure trail will run through the wooded area from the deer shelter to the museum.

The gardener’s cottage will be restored to create a base for volunteer activities and a ‘midden’, an early example of an outside toilet, will also be revealed (we can’t wait either).

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Richard Emerson, chairman of The Friends of Cannon Hall, which itself raised £40,000 for the restoration project, said: ‘This incredible grant follows years of long hours and detailed preparation and is vitally important, enabling much needed restoration and improvement of the park and gardens. Our local heritage is of great importance to us all, it defines who we are and the character and identity of our communities and must be protected.’

Cannon Hall was owned by the Spencer-Stanhope family for 300 years and its grounds were designed in the 18th century by renowned Georgian landscape architect Richard Woods. After lying idle for a while, the hall opened as a museum on June 1st 1957.

Popular visitor attractions in the grounds include the deer shed, recently licenced for weddings, and the Cannon Hall pear tree collection, which is housed within the historic walled garden and contains more than 50 varieties.

Fairyland, part of the Pleasure Gardens, was built in the 1870s and features arches and pillars built from stone taken from the ruins of local churches.

Visitors can also discover the remains of the Pinery, a greenhouse built in the 1700s to grow pineapples and exotic fruit – a mission now being taken up again by contemporary garden staff – and a 200-year-old Muscat grapevine, which is a predecessor of today’s Australian fine wines.

Cannon Hall and its grade two listed grounds are part of the Barnsley Museums portfolio, owned and operated by Barnsley Council. The parks and gardens are free to visit and are open 365 days a year. For details, visit

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