History mysteries always crop up in restoration projects and Kirby Hall — once the home of Sir Christopher Hatton of Hatton Garden fame — is no exception. Hatton finished the work started in 1570 by the first owner, Sir Humphrey Stafford. The Hatton family lived there for nearly 200 years.
The magnificent Elizabethan house is little more than a shell. However, in the care of English Heritage, restoration is taking place following the completion of the garden. Archaeological work between 1987 and 1994 provided evidence for the original form of the Great Garden but not much more.
The reconstruction was, therefore, based on a 1685 design by George London for Lord Weymouth of Longleat House in Wiltshire. It is known that London visited the Hall and advised on the gardens.
The shrubs used included pyramidal and ball Laurus nobilis Award of Garden Merit (AGM) and specimen Viburnum tinus.
The regional landscape manager for English Heritage Tim Walker said: “These plants give it a flavour of this less-well-known style of formal landscape. It is thought this accurate presentation of a mid-1690s garden is unique in the UK.”
English Heritage is looking to secure funding to restore the stone steps, large ornamental urns and possibly the statues in the garden.
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