About the Garden

Brief Introduction

Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden was created by a wealthy Warrington banker, Thomas Parr, around 1830 when he built a new house and estate for his family. The land nearest the house was designated as parkland to give a suitable setting to the mansion and the outer areas were farm land.

The landscape that existed at that time was incorporated into the estate and many of the woodlands, ponds and avenues that formed the parkland then still remain in place today. As a whole these features form a significant record of a landscape designed in the manner of a gentry country estate. It appears, from historical records, that the estate was at its height from 1875 – 1899 and this is considered to be the most significant period for the design and productivity of the garden.

The house was demolished in 1975 but the 4 acre walled garden was retained as a local amenity. English Partnerships refurbished much of the garden as part of their development of the area and new housing, working closely with the Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden Conservation Project charity, the Warrington Organic and Wildlife Gardening Society and the Woodland Trust.

Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council took ownership of the garden in 2005 and, with the help of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Friends of Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden, has developed the facility into a peaceful, well maintained and beautiful garden which is now a popular local visitor attraction and resource for horticulture, education and enjoyment.

The walled garden consists of two main areas, the fully working kitchen garden and the ornamental pleasure garden which are separated by a yew hedge. The garden is very unusual in that both the kitchen garden and pleasure garden are enclosed within a single, continuous sandstone wall. The site also includes a run of 8 fully refurbished Victorian glasshouses, several outbuildings, 3 ponds and a café in the central glasshouse space.

EP carried out restoration works to the ponds and the sandstone walls were rebuilt. New paths were created and new gates, archways, and ornamental fencing was erected, based on original features.

The Pleasure Garden

The pleasure garden, beyond the yew hedge, is laid out informally and has 3 ponds with aquatic planting and mature trees including a particularly fine cut leaf beech.

The Parr family could enter the pleasure garden from a door near the house, without having to go through the main working area of the kitchen garden. The pleasure garden provided a sheltered retreat for the Parr family with circular walks following the walls, varied planting and ornamental ducks. They could then return through an arch in the yew hedge which was bordered by two long flower borders in front of the glasshouses.

The Kitchen Garden

Within the glasshouses the estate Gardeners would have grown an extensive range of produce for the family, including tender fruits and exotic plants. In the outdoor garden there would have been hardy vegetables and cut flowers with fruit trees trained along the walls.

The kitchen garden has a formal, geometric layout, typical of most productive gardens. Gravel paths were reintroduced to the kitchen garden, based on the original formal layout, and new fruit trees were planted to recreate the orchard.

Today the kitchen garden is tended by the full time Gardener/Manager, Graham Richardson, with the assistance of many volunteers, and is fully stocked with a wide range of fruit and vegetables such as potatoes, onions, beans, cavalo nero, butternut squash, celeriac, apples, pears, black currants, damsons and plums. The south-west facing glasshouses now provide the additional opportunity to grow citrus fruits, figs, grapes, chillies and tomatoes. Buildings at the back of the glasshouses are used for storage space, office space, educational use and one section has been converted into a modern kitchen to enable a professional café to be run.

Excess fruit and vegetables are offered for sale to visitors, when available, and are also used in the café.

History Book – The Parr Family and Grappenhall Heys

A more detailed history of the garden and the Parr family can be found in a book entitled ‘The Parr Family and Grappenhall Heys’ and copies are available from the Parish Council office and the walled garden priced at £6.00 each.