The History of Littlethorpe Manor Gardens
The 18th century Manor house, on the banks of the Ripon Canal, seemed lost in the 11 acre grounds when the Thackray family moved here in 1985. The earliest part of the house is circa 1700, with later additions, particularly by General Maister, the Duke of Wellington’s Peninsula Officer. The remodelling had produced a house of great charm and style, but irregular form – a fact that has had considerable influence on the garden.
When Mr and Mrs Thackray bought the estate in 1985, they laid out the main structure of the garden, with tree planting in the parkland and along the canal bank. They also installed the pond. From the very start, Mr and Mrs Thackray wanted to return the house to its garden setting. There is a real difference between a garden that is incidental in the landscape and one that is rooted in its place. We wanted to give the house that sense of belonging in the garden and likewise for the garden to the house.
With this is mind, and our fortunate appointment of Eddie Harland, we turned the past derelict garden upside down, reverting to a more English arcadia style. It’s a mixture of the formal and informal and yet quite exploratory. We feel that this garden shows what can be achieved by selecting plants, hedges and trees that extend their usefulness right through the seasons. Winter stem and seed colour are as important as texture and colour in summer. Perennials are left standing through to early spring when they are cut back ready to perform with equal gusto the following year.
The interest by the owner in ‘the cycle of the seasons’ has led to the symbolic use of circles as a unifying theme throughout the garden.