Goldsborough Hall to celebrate 90th year of open gardens with photographic exhibition

Gardens at Goldsborough have opened to the public under the NGS for 90 years

Gardens at Goldsborough have opened to the public under the NGS for 90 years - Credit: Archant

The public are invited to share a princess’s gardening vision

Goldsborough Hall was the home of Princess Mary

Goldsborough Hall was the home of Princess Mary - Credit: Archant

One of Yorkshire’s historic country homes is celebrating a milestone in its gardening history. Goldsborough Hall, near Knaresborough marks its 90th year of opening the gardens to the public as part of the then newly formed National Garden Scheme. The Hall was home to Princess Mary and her husband Viscount Lascelles in the 1920s and today’s owners, Mark and Clare Oglesby, have maintained what has become tradition.

The NGS was founded in 1927 in England with the aim of ‘opening gardens of quality, character and interest to the public for charity’. That year over 600 private gardens were opened and more than £8,000 was raised. Goldsborough Hall opened its gardens the following year.

Princess Mary and her husband made quite a few changes to the house and gardens after moving into Goldsborough Hall in 1922. Princess Mary created a vista to the south with the planting of the walled terrace and the beech avenue, with herbaceous border centred on a sundial. The Lime Tree Walk, planted by royalty from 1922-1930, was almost complete, with 24 trees out of 34 (and only 10 still to be planted 1928-30). The Emperor of Japan had given Mary some Japanese cherry trees as a wedding gift though they would still have been in their infancy in 1928.

On that opening day in July 1928 she had an overwhelming response. The takings on the day were £180 12s 6d, which in today’s money would be enough to buy a house. And if entry to the gardens was charged at a shilling, that’s over 3,600 people. Princess Mary opened the gardens the following two years, until 1930 when she moved to Harewood House, following the death of her father-in-law, the 5th Earl.

Today the gardens can be considered the completion of Princess Mary’s vision. The beech hedges lining the herbaceous borders are fully grown and the 34 trees which make up the Lime Tree Walk have matured, as have the Emperor of Japan’s cherry trees. The herbaceous borders have been replanted in a Gertrude Jekyll style, the rose garden replanted and a new afternoon tea terrace built in 2012 planted with Yorkshire Princess’ rose named after Princess Mary.

Three British champion trees and one Yorkshire champion tree stand tall over the gardens. In addition, the overgrown woods have been cleared to let the spring bulbs, snowdrops and winter aconites shine through. The glasshouse in the kitchen garden has been rebuilt this year and the vegetable garden revitalised under the Hall’s highly skilled head gardener Mark Waller.

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Many newspapers from the 1920s reported Princess Mary’s love of gardening: ‘The gardens at Goldsborough Hall have been considerably improved and enlivened with additional flower beds since her marriage. Roses are among her favourite flowers, and a rose garden is among the new features at Goldsborough, where beds filled with highly coloured flowers extend just outside the windows of the house,’ reported the Brisbane Courier in September 1928. From a friend in Yorkshire, reports the Adelaide Chronicle in 1929: ‘... the gardens have always been very fine, but Princess Mary has altered them a good deal, and has taken endless trouble to get the best effect with her flowers, so as to have the herbaceous borders in continual bloom.’

The gardens open to the public under the NGS on July 22nd from 12noon-5pm and there will be a photographic exhibition of black and white images of the grounds and Hall from the 1920s. Tickets are adults £5, children have free entry. Dogs on leads welcome. Refreshments are available in the orangery.

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