THE BOTANICAL BISHOPS

ROSE CASTLE'S GARDENER BISHOPS  

by David Weston

References:

Queen, refers to Diary of a Bishop's Garden (Bookcase 2009)

Weston, refers to Rose Castle (CWAAS 2013)

Wilson, refers to Rose Castle, (Thurham 1912)

 

1. William Strickland (1400-19): [Weston p. 33]. 'he had part of the garden at Rose, known as Le Herber, set apart for the growing of vegetables'.

The Parliamentary Commissioners, recording in about 1649 the condition of the castle after its capture and partial destruction, state that the orchard on the south and east quarters of the castle contained about three roods of ground. [Wilson p. 90]

 

2.  Edward Rainbow (1664-84): [Wilson 106-7], 'This day' (31 January 1676) wrote the Countess of Pembroke [Lady Anne Clifford] in her diary, 'did John Twentyman, gardener to the Lord Bishop of Carlisle, come from Rose Castle hither to this Brougham Castle to look after and order my garden here: so he lay in the bannister room five nights together, during which time he worked in my garden here'.

 

3.  William Nicolson (1702-18): [Weston p. 73]. The bishop was a 'very keen botanist who bought plants for the garden from the Royal Horticultural Gardens in Edinburgh and who left to posterity a manuscript book of plants which has been edited and published' (E. Whittaker (ed.) A Seventeenth Century Flora of Cumbria, William Nicolson's catalogue of Plants 1690, [Surtees Society, Gateshead, 1981]). See Janet Queen in her book, Diary of a Bishop's Garden; one Year in the Garden at Rose Castle, [Queen, pp. 52-3] 'he noted the wild flowers, shrubs and trees he saw while walking and riding........the note book contains only two lists of plants he described as being 'set at Rose'.

 

4.  Charles Lyttelton (1762-68): [Weston p. 82]. 'The old garden house on the bowling green was pulled down. The site of the old brewhouse was filled up and turfed, the back court was paved and gravelled, old garden steps were removed and new ones provided'.

 

5.  Edward Venables-Vernon, later 'Harcourt'(1791-1807): [Weston p. 87] 'The bishop improved the garden in 1800 by bringing in many cartloads of soil from the woods and planting shrubs bought from Scotland and from Keswick. One of the garden walks [the White Garden walk] was, in 1912, still called Lady Anne's Walk after the bishop's wife, who was the daughter of a marquis'[of Stafford]. See also Weston p. 88. Two descriptions of the garden in 1803 are provided by Samuel Coleridge and Dorothy Wordsworth. She writes of, 'sloping gardens, velvet lawns, old garden wall, trim flower borders with stately and luxuriant flowers'.

 

6.  Hugh Percy (1827-56): [Wilson, Rose Castle, pp. 108-9: Weston p. 103] 'For the gardens and grounds the bishop is said to have called upon the services of Sir Joseph Paxton (1801-65), gardener to the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, to lay out the Dutch garden and rose garden, the walks and terraces'. See photograph in Wilson, facing p. 109.

 

7.  Harvey Goodwin (1869-91): [Weston p. 111] A visitor recorded in 1887, 'There are velvety lawns, terraces of flowers, grand old trees, vast greenhouses of peaches, nectarines, apricots, pineapples, melons and grapes, the melons hanging in net bags. It must take an army of gardeners to keep it so perfect'.

 

8.  John Diggle and his wife Edith (1905-20): [Wilson, Rose Castle, pp. 108-9] 'Four overgrown laurel hedges were cut down and their sites planted with ferns, clematis and rambler roses.....the old fish pond was again cleaned out and another stream connected with it at the north end, and an island and bridge added. Yew hedges were planted on two sides of the Dutch garden, and a beech hedge near the old oak close to the park. The moat towards the meadows was made broader and deeper, and the rose garden and crescent bed were entirely replanted with monthly roses. A fresh view of the castle was opened out on the west side by the removal of shrubs and trees, and the moat after excavation to its ancient depth was filled with water...... The rose-beds, flower-beds and hot-houses are the special care of Mrs. Diggle....  In all matters of horticulture, the Bishop and Mrs. Diggle have the skilled advice of Mr. Mutch. [See also Weston pp. 117-8]

 

9.  Ian Harland and his wife Sue (1989-2000). Their contributions to the gardens of Rose Castle are well recorded in Janet Queen's book (see above) on pages 178-9.