07 June 2011

News from Norfolk

The walled garden at Holkham Hall

Everything is big. The walls enclosing the six and a half acres are big, and tall, and really very long. The vineries and sunken greenhouses, ditto. It's quite a walk from the house, a quarter of a mile, and the area is separated behind a ha-ha and the kind of gate which would look more at home in a churchyard.

On display is an old photograph of a man in a kilt playing the bagpipes, who is the former head gardener. The people at Holkham say this about him:

'Donald Paterson became head gardener around 1910. In his time at Holkham he saw his gardeners twice go off to war, the upheaval of World War II with its 'Dig for Victory' campaign and the forced economies that followed, all before his death in 1949.'

The Holkham estate was on its knees by the 1950s, with massive debts owed, following the deaths of the third and fourth earls within ten years. In the 1960s the walled garden became a nursery and in 2005 it became empty.

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