The History of Alnwick Gardens

Alnwick Gardens is a 250 year old walled garden thought to be one of the largest walled gardens in the world. Before The Alnwick Garden was constructed a full archeological survey was required costing £100,000 and discovered traces of 6 previous gardens, the earliest being from the 18th Century.

 The 1st Duke of Northumberland created the first garden in Alnwick Garden’s history in 1750. He hired Capability Brown to landscape the gardens. Brown was the most esteemed gardener of the time.

In the next century hothouses were built for raising pineapples and produce for the 3rd Duke when he was an ambassador in Paris in 1825. The current Grand Cascade hides underground tunnels to heat the former hothouses with hot air from coal fire furnaces. The Duke was a plant collector who brought plants and seeds from all over the world for Alnwick. A large conservatory in the gardens were open to the public once a week. The 3rd Duchess created a garden of flowers for the Garden. The garden grew a reputation and notable visitors included Tsar Alexander I of Russia who head hunted the head gardener of the time.

In the mid 19th Century the 4th Duke employed William Andrew Nesfield to landscape the garden in an Italian Renaissance Style. The 4th Duke also purchased two pairs of 16th century Venetian wrought iron gates from Italy which have since been restored and rehung in the new Alnwick Garden.

The end of the 19th Century saw the gardens at their most grandest with yew hedges, avenues of limes, acres of flower garden, grape houses, pine houses and a conservatory. 

In the 20th Century the world wars left the gardens in disrepair but during the second world war the garden was used for produce for the Government’s 1942 ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign requiring everyone at the time to keep an allotment. From the second world war until the new Alnwick Garden project beginning in 1996, the gardens were used as a tree nursery.

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