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Monument record MDR4451 - Melbourne Hall Gardens and Park

Type and Period (2)

  • (Stuart to Georgian - 1647 AD to 1722 AD)
  • (Elizabethan to Victorian - 1600 AD to 1850 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Early formal gardens and park. The gardens were largely laid out 1704-c.1722 by London and Wise and William Cooke of Walcot on an earlier site, and were later altered in the mid 19th century. A formal layout was laid out to the east of the house c.1704. There is a terraced pasture, descending to a Great Basin, with a Vista terminating in an iron arbour of 1706 by Robert Bakewell. There is a yew tunnel of late 17th-early 18th century date that was extended in the mid 19th century. A dovecot of 17th century date was converted in to a muniment room in 1709 (see SMR 23277). There is a French style woodland garden of c.1704 of intersecting alleys radiating from round points. Village Street extinguished to enlarge the park. There is also an ornamental lake to the west (see SMR 31711). (1-3) The gardens to the east of Melbourne Hall (see SMR 23279) were first extended in about 1690, and then extended to the south and laid out by the Royal Gardens, London and Wise, before the house was remodelled. In 1699, Thomas Coke, Vice-Chamberlain to Queen Anne and George I chose a plan from Mr Wise 'to suit Versailles'. But work did not begin until 1704 under a local contractor, William Cooke or Walcot. The garden is not at all big, but its composition makes it appear larger . It is divided by three main avenues leading down gently with some broad staircases to a Great Basin, converted from the moats and basins of the previous garden. At the far end of the basin, as a focal point, an exquisite wrought-iron arbour of 1706-11 by Robert Bakewell of Derby. Also probably by Bakewell is a lyre pattern balustrade at the end of the terrace. There are many contemporary lead figures by Jan van Nost, 1699-1700, in the angles of the yew hedges. To the south of the composition there is a long yew tunnel, and further to the south is the Grove, with stands and circular fountain pools, like those by Le Notre at Marly. At the top of the slope is Nost's Four Seasons Vase of 1705, which was given by Queen Anne. The stone pedestals are by Devigne. Also by him are stone baskets in front of the hall. To the southwest is a large pool (see SMR 31711), which feed the water-works on the east side, with a 17th century watermill that was made picturesque in the 19th century and is now a house (see SMR 23255). (4) The gardens at Melbourne Hall cover an area of about 20 hectares. The gardens were laid out by the Rt Hon Thomas Coke during the period 1704 to c.1710, with advice from Henry Wise, and parkland probably laid out during the 17th century and the early 19th century. The site was part of a royal manor that was granted to the bishopric of Carlisle in the 12th or 13th century. It was used by the bishops as a refuge until the 15th century, from which time it was leased (see SMR 23279). Sir John Coke took over the leasehold in 1629 and the freehold was obtained by his grandson, the Rt Hon Thomas Coke in 1704. Coke intended to create a new garden when he inherited in 1696 and he ordered trees and shrubs from London and Wise's Brompton Park nurseries in the years following his majority. A plan of the garden was made in 1698. An undated letter of c.1700 (quoted in Saunders and Usher c.1980, 6) refers to two designs for the garden by Henry Wise, the one favoured by Coke 'to suit with Versailles'. Work was delayed until the freehold of the site was secured in 1704. Shortly after this Coke signed a contract with William Cooke of Walcot from the construction of the new gardens. A plan of the garden of 1722 by T Kirkland shows the executed scheme. The gardens are now [1998] privately owned. Parkland to the east of the garden is open pasture planed with groups of trees designed to frame a vista from the hall with the formal garden in the foreground, the Birdcage in the middle distance, and immediately beyond it, rising ground. An estate map of 1724 shows the area with a U-shaped plantation aligned with the axis of the garden, but as the U is closed it is doubtful if long0distance views have been obtained at the time and the plantation may have been designed to provide a backcloth for the garden. The whole area of the former medieval deer park (SMR 23216) is outside the registered area. (5) A plan of the grounds was made in 1698 that showed the garden after its enlargement in 1647. Work on the new gardens was undertaken by London and Wise and William Cook of Walcot, who began in 1704 by reconstructing the old flower and kitchen gardens into 'a division of Partare work' with 'terraces, verges and fleets of steps'. Further work extended into a former field to the southeast of the old garden. The ground was levelled for 'divisions of wilderness work', 'reservoirs or bassons for water', fruit walls, kitchen gardens, orchards, plantations and hedged alleys. The moated islands of the 17th century garden were filled in and replaced by the present 'basin' further east. The muniment room, converted from a dovecote in 1708 (see SMR 23277), marks the north-eastern corner of the early 17th century garden. It has long been assumed that the yew tunnel was also a survivor from that garden, but this is probably not the case. The grounds also include an ice house, now sealed, some half a mile from the house (see SMR 23249). The gardens were already a tourist attraction in the mid 19th century and continue to be open to the public today. They are listed grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens. (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Article in serial: Country Life. 1899, 1928. Country Life, September 23rd, 1899 and April 1st and 7th, 1928.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Hussey, C. 1978. English Gardens and Landscapes 1700-1750.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Anthony, J. 1979. The Gardens of Britain 6: The East Midlands.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. pp 278-9.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: English Heritage. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. Part 10: Derbyshire. PG1673.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Stroud, G. 2002. Extensive Urban Survey: Melbourne. Archaeological Assessment Report. p 22.



Grid reference Centred SK 38 24 (958m by 496m) Approximate

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Record last edited

Aug 2 2023 1:54PM

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