Renishaw Hall Gardens – Wed 29th May 2024

Twenty-three Probus members and wives made their way to Renishaw Hall for a superb guided tour of the Hall’s renowned gardens, bookended by early refreshments and a superb sit-down buffet lunch in the Rex Whistler Room.

Carrie Anne Burton, manager of the Events Office, organised the day for us, and were guided around the gardens by David Kesteven, Head Gardener. He has held the position for over 25 years and, with Sir Reresby Sitwell’s guidance and latterly that of Lady Alexandra Sitwell, he has developed the most magnificent Italianate formal gardens, the original brainchild of their ancestor Sir George Sitwell.
We were a brief history of the house and how the gardens were developed, David showed us the importance of perspective and geometry in their design, contrasting them with the informality of

Capability Brown’s more open and “closer to nature” designs. Particularly dramatic, behind the 17th century central part of the hall, were lines of vision along both edges of the main lawn and beyond, converging through a gap in the tall yew hedges, to the lakes and distant hills beyond, giving a real impression of peace and tranquillity.
We were told that the huge lakes, fed by the River Rother, had been hand-dug by out-of-work Scarborough fishermen. There’s a heronry in the trees on an island at the other end of the lakes
Amongst many amazing plants we saw were the pocket handkerchief trees (Davidii Involucrata!), already dropping their hankie-like white leaves, two exotic oaks that turn either yellow or red in the autumn, a variety of rare conifers, alliums, the red flowered Butilon Vitifolium next to the hall, and the white wisteria on pagodas (fig 2). The colour themed borders had early rose blooms. These will be spectacular over the next month
The Hall has a national collection of Yuccas in the restored orangery (the Yuccary!). Also in there were the beautiful ecchiums We saw the grave of the “Luckiest dog in the world” that had nestled in the lap of Marylin Monroe when she was a guest of Edith Sitwell in London. A very lucky dog indeed.

The gardens are always changing. Family membership at £70 is good value. At some point, a tour around the house itself would be well worthwhile.