To celebrate the first stage of the reimagined historic Walled Gardens at Raby Castle nearing completion. Lauren, Raby Castle’s Interpretation and Engagement Assistant has taken a dive into our collections to find some of our favourite floral items. The East Garden will be shared exclusively for members this Summer before the full scheme opens in 2024. This exquisite space, designed by Luciano Giubbilei comprises of a grass amphitheatre for outdoor events, with evergreen-bordered herbaceous beds set amongst interconnected paths surrounded by blossom – all in view of the spectacular sight of Raby Castle. To become a Raby Member https://www.raby.co.uk/raby-castle/raby-memberships/
Botany book ‘The Flower Garden Display’
This beautifully illustrated book is from 1734 and depicts around 400 flowers, divided into chapters based on each month of the year. It describes the method of cultivation (whether they need to be grown in a greenhouse, for example) and the history of each plant.
The book claims to be useful not only for those ‘curious in gardening’ but also for painters, carvers, and ‘for the ladies, as patterns for working and painting in water-colours, or furniture for the closet.’
The book in Raby’s collection could have been for the latter, as an inscription on the title page reads ‘Katherine Lowther, her book, 1734.’ Henry Vane, 2nd Earl of Darlington married into the influential Lowther family through Margaret Lowther in 1757.
This plate is part of a dessert serving set which is decorated with flowers, fauna and butterflies. They are made by Mintons, which was considered one of Europe’s leading ceramic factories during the Victorian period.
Interestingly, these items have evidence of historic repair in the staples holding the cracked plate together. Perhaps this set was well used and loved- or members of the household just couldn’t bear to throw them away.
Photograph: James Tullett and his gardening team
This photograph of Raby’s gardeners shows the size of the workforce dedicated to the walled gardens during the early 1900s. They were responsible for cultivating plants, being innovative with growing methods- such as using heat to grow more exotic plants- and producing food.
The gardening team were led by a Head Gardener, during this time James Tullett (the man sat in the centre with the impressive moustache.) He is mentioned in the Teesdale Mercury for winning several growing competitions, and a highlight of his career being the Royal visit of King Edward VII in 1905:
‘His Majesty went away with a bunch of the famed “Raby carnations” with him. This, of course, all stands to the credit of Mr J. Tullett, the head gardener.’