English Gardens - East Midlands
A country estate popular with all ages
Hall was one of the homes of the Sheffield family, former
Dukes of Buckingham and original owners of Buckingham
Palace. Now it is leased to the local council and is a
popular day out for locals. The house dates from 1820 and is
surrounded by a formal gardens, duck pond, parkland and a
deer park. In the grounds is a farming museum and a working
Victorian garden. There is a small cafe and shop.
The house is surrounded by a small formal garden with an ornamental pond.
Surrounding the house is a large area of parkland with a variety of native and ornamental trees. Quite close to the house is a massive evergreen oak tree, unusual this far north, with its lower branches touching the ground.
In spring the ground is covered with snowdrops and daffodils.
A slow flowing stream with a bridge across feeds the large duck pond which has a small island with a large weeping willow tree. The shops sells food for the ducks but they are well fed and not particularly hungry. There are also peacocks.
Beyond the duck pond, hidden among the trees is the pets' graveyard where family pets of the Sheffield family are buried. As well as dogs, a horse is also buried here.
There is a small area of natural woodland with well made all weather paths wandering through it. In April this is covered with bluebells.
Beyond the house is the deer park with herds of Red deer and fallow deer.
The Victorian Walled Garden has been restored as a working garden, growing traditional vegetables and fruits, as well as the central avenue lined with herbaceous perennials which would have provided cut flowers for the house. There are three greenhouses. One has peach trees, another grape vines and the third has potted plants and ferns.
Behind are the potting sheds and bothy. The potting sheds are stacked with clay plant pots and are still used for planting up. Walls are painted blue as the Victorians believed this colour deterred flies.
The old tools are still hanging on the walls and there is a collection of old lawn mowers.
The head gardenerís office has a large desk with a range of gardening catalogues and a small fire. At the far end is the small bothy kitchen with its cast iron range, where men working in the garden were fed.
The childrenís play area has swings and adventure climbing frames with tunnels and slides. In the summer, a land train gives rides round the estate and on summer Sundays, the local Model Engineers run a miniature railway.
The house is open summer afternoons and several of the rooms are open, including grand entrance hall, study, dining room. There is also information about the Sheffield family history and life in the Hall. The Hall is a popular wedding venue, so may be shut on these days.
Many of the estate building still survive and the Servantís Trail leaflet available in the gift shop, explores these from the kennels to the ice house.
The farming museum is open during the summer months and has a large exhibition of old farm machinery. There is a certain amount of information but this may be a bit esoteric unless you come from a farming background. There is also some information on social history including a farm worker's kitchen, coffin maker's workshop and a saddler's.
The cafe in the stable area is disappointing. Donít go hoping for a Ďhome madeí cake with your tea. You will be out of luck.
The park is open daily from 9am to dusk. The house and farming museum are only open during the summer months.
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