The Origins of the Park;
The Old Hall near Tatton Mere is the oldest building on the estate and originally it was the property of the Brereton family, who built it around 1520.
It was enlarged to its present size in the 1580s.
Throughout its history, it was firstly used as a farmhouse, then from the mid-nineteenth century, as a dwelling for estate workers.
The Tatton estate was purchased in 1598 by Sir Thomas Egerton, who later became Lord Chancellor of England.
Later his great-great grandson John Egerton built a new house on the site of the present mansion, this was completed around 1716
The Old Hall continued to be occupied but lost its focal importance as the manorial home of the estate owners.
As the family fortunes flourished the building was extensively rebuilt in two separate stages between 1780 and 1813
To the west of the house is a six and half acre walled garden which is split into three areas, and was built in 1750
These gardens were devoted to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables.
In their 'hay day' these walled gardens, which were in constant production, provided fresh fruit and vegetables for the family and the house staff
In 1958. Maurice. 4th Baron Egerton of Tatton died unmarried and left the estate to The National Trust.
Then in 1960, a lease was drawn up between The National Trust and Cheshire County Council indicating that the property would be financed. maintained and administered by the County Council, in close consultation with The National Trust
The Buildings and the Walled Gardens;
The entrance to the gardens is through the stable yard, which fetches you into the first of the three walled garden.
This area is an extensive orchard containing many kinds of fruit such as apples, pears, cherries etc all trained in a variety of exotic ways.
The south facing wall contains a series of 'lean to' greenhouses which produce early and late grapes. peaches. nectarines and apricots.
( These were under re-construction when I visited)
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On the north facing wall, one can see what appears to be urns adorning the top of the walls, these are in fact, ornate chimney pots for the flued or heated walls.
The fires were lit beneath them in autumn to hasten the ripening off the fruit on the trees, then again in the spring, to protect the new growth and buds from frost.
The Conservatory was designed by Lewis Wyatt for Wilbraham Egerton, and was built shortly after the renovations to the main house that took place in 1818,
The two buildings were connected together by a long glass corridor, however, the corridor was removed in 1935 to make way for further extensions to the house.
In its early days, the building was referred as 'The Orangery' for the simple reason the family grew oranges.
The building was restored and replanted to its original layout in 1994, with the new plantings being a representation of what the plant collectors of the period (early 1800's) were fetching back with them.
Note; Some of the plants now housed in the Conservatory may well be suited to growing out on the estate, but at the time of planting, people were unsure of the 'hardiness' of these plants, hence the decision to grow them in the conservatory.
Among the collection one can find plants such as; Acacia dealbata, Camellias, Sago Palms, Seville Oranges,and Weeping Figs, along with Begonias, Lilies, and scented Geraniums
The Fernery; is one of the few remaining buildings which is still used for its original purpose.
It was designed by Joseph Paxton who also designed the Crystal Palace in London.
In the 1850's Captain Charles Randle Egerton brought back from one of his voyages a number of 18" (45cms) high New Zealand tree ferns (Dicksonia), hence the need for such a building.
These tree ferns were underplanted with ground cover fern, such as Woodwardia radicans, and creeping fig (Ficus pumila).
Some fifty years later, these tree ferns had outgrown their alloted space, and this necessitated raising the roof to its current height.
The 'Showhouse' which as the name suggests, was a plant house used to exhibit goups of flowering plants.
These displays were rearranged regularly with plants that would ensure lots of colour all the year round.
One would expect to see plants such as; Coleus, Fuchsias, Geraniums, Hydrangeas and Nicotiana, to name but a few, on display.
In winter it would be used for growing on new stock for the following year.
The L Borders;
The overall aim of this border is to produce borders of graduated hot & cold colour combinations.
The use of Yew buttresses, and a stone acanthus seat helps to achieve this aim, add to this, some tender climbers on the south facing walls and the effect is complete.
Charlottes Garden was designed by Lewis Wyatt in 1814 and is named after Lady Charlotte Egerton, wife of William Egerton.
The garden is an example of `Gardenesque' where many small intricately shaped island beds are formed, and each one is filled with different varieties of a few genus.
Another personal feature was to design the beds in patterns that matched, or were very similar to soft furnishings within the main house!
Add to this a conservatory, an arbor, a fountain, a rockery and a snake path and the garden was complete!
Looking west from 'Charlotte's lawn' one can see a number of Yew trees that have been trimmed into various 'Bird like' and 'Pagoda' shaped topiary.
Apparently this group of topiary is all that remains from quite an extensive display that once adorned the estate in Victorian times.
Perhaps through disease, or the lack of labour to maintain this 'labour intensive' process many of the original specimens have now disappeared.
On passing these trees through an ornate gate, one enters the 'Rose and Tower Gardens'.
The Rose Garden;
The Rose Garden was laid out in 1913 for Lady Egerton, wife of Alan de Tatton.
Within the garden there is an 'Ornate Pool' which in its day had other uses, other than just being a decorative feature.
Apparently the family bathed in it during the summer months after they had perhaps been playing tennis, or some such strenuous game.
There is also a 'Tea House' where the family could sit and take tea in the shade, or take shelter in the event of the weather becoming inclement.
It is said that the gardeners had to have any work done in this area by 10.00 am everyday in order for Lady Egerton to sit undisturbed and enjoy the seclusion of the area.
On looking through the rear windows of the 'Tea House' you have a view of the walled kitchen garden mentioned earlier.
The planting scheme in the Rose Garden is of 'The Edwardian Style' with extensive use of various varieties of Polyantha Roses.
Many varieties of 'hardy' climbers' scramble up the uprights supporting the Pergola.
Similarly there is extensive use of Lavender and Rosemary to give all year round interest.
From the 'Tower end' of the garden, one can admire the 'Topiary' mentioned previously, from a different angle.
The Tower garden;
The Tower garden is enclosed by the same walls as the Rose garden but has a different feel to it.
It is thought that; where the Rose Garden was laid out for Lady Egerton and her lady guests, the Tower Garden was used mainly by the menfolk of these ladies.
This area was not always a garden as the Tower was built for a different purpose, it was built as a 'Watch Tower'
The Tower was a vantage point where the staff would look over the estate to ensure that sheep and deer were not being rustled.
Many stone urns and balusters that had once adorned the Conservatory were used in its contruction.
One of the centre pieces of sculpture was a statue of Neptune that the family had brought back from Venice in 1920
This statue is unusual in so far as, all the pipework is visible up its back due to it having previously being erected and plumbed in against a wall.
The borders are generally filled with seasonal bedding alongside permanent perennials such as Roses, Hebes and Hydrangeas.
The urns are planted with a Cordyline centre piece underplanted with trailing ivies.
This garden is rated as one of the best Japanese Gardens in Europe.
The original concept is thought to be the result of a visit by Alan deTatton to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910.
The garden is in the style of a 'Tea Garden' as opposed to other Japanese styles, e.g. the dry garden or the stroll garden.
The Shinto shrine and other artifacts contained within the garden, are all reputed to have been brought from Japan specially for the construction of the garden.
The garden was constructed by a team of Japanese workmen brought in for the sole purpose of building the garden.
The ethos of the garden is to portray scenes, both mythical and factual, that ' harmonise with nature'.
For example; care must be taken to ensure that rocks / stones are in a 'state of natural balance'.
Flowers are not given as much consideration but tree shapes are, hence the use of many Japanese maples or Acers which are reminiscent of a
true Japanese garden.
Various mosses are also incorporated into the design to form a green carpet under the plants.
This becomes even more effective, when the moss acts as a background for the bright reds and oranges of the autumn leaves.
Similarly; Lanterns come in all shapes sizes, and have different functions.
For example; the specially shaped snow viewing lanterns, are designed to trap as much as much snow as possible on the top of the lantern to add more beauty to the garden in winter.
As with many gardens there is a tendancy for some of the original stock to outgrow its alloted space, this garden is no different, and there are plans afoot to restore some of the features that have disappeared over the years.
The Park and its Waterways;
All in all the Arboretum offers interesting features choose what time of the year you visit the park.
This came about because of the love Maurice Egerton had for Africa.
In his youth he spent a great deal of time in Africa where he had a patch of land that he farmed, and pursued his hobby of 'big game' hunting.
It was during the war years when he was unable to visit the country as much, that he had the hut built to remind him of his times there!
Leech Pool ;
This pond is situated in an area referred to as 'Happy Valley'
The origins of the name are speculative in so far as it may have contained 'leeches' a medical aid of the times, or it it might be brought about by the 'leech shape' of the pool, the choice is yours.
I like the medical aid version!
The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates to give it its proper name,
The monument is inspired on a monument to Lyscrates, the famous leader of the Greek Chorus that stands in ancient Athens.
This structure was commissioned in 1820 by Wilbraham Egerton when he asked William Cole of Chester to design and construct this prominent feature.
The locaton of the monument at the end of 'The Broad Walk' was chosen to basically to indicate the edge of the estate.
The Broadwalk and Beech Avenue;
This tree lined avenue formed the main driveway to the Mansion and was formed around 1650.
It remained as such until the park was re-landscaped during the renovations that took place in 1780 and 1813 when the Mansion entrance driveway was changed.
The remains of Beech Avenue can still be seen on the driveway to Knutsford Gate.
Broad Walk looks stunning in autumn when the leaves change to their autumnal colours!
...............and that concludes the tour of Tatton Park.