The south front of the House at Weston Park (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
A World of Learning at Weston Park
Weston Park stands in the heart of England and has been welcoming 5-7000 school children each year. We're now looking to focus on the gardens at Weston Park and, with a project to restore the walled garden, to share the benefits of growing food and healthy eating.
Weston Park has a fascinating history and is set in a thousand acres of parkland laid out by Capability Brown in the 1760s. Big country houses like Weston were always self-sufficient and one of Capability Brown's important improvements was the building of a vast new kitchen garden which could grow food for the House's former owners, the Bridgeman family, and their household. The kitchen garden remained productive from the time that it was built until the 1980s.
Capability Brown's Map of Weston Park (1765/1765) by Lancelot BrownWeston Park
Capability Brown's Grand Plan for Weston Park
Capability Brown was really the nickname of Lancelot Brown. He came to be known as 'Capability' since he was always telling clients that their properties had 'capabilities'. Weston Park was no exception...
West-right section of Capability Brown's map of Weston Park (1765/1765) by Lancelot Capability BrownWeston Park
At Weston Park, not only did he suggest that Sir Henry and Lady Bridgeman should create two pleasure grounds, but he also thought that they needed a large walled garden which would enable them to grow food for the table. This they went on to build to the north of the House
Survey of the park at Weston, showing the west side of the landscape. (2017) by Staffordshire Archives/ Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
The Completed Vision
This map, dated 1806, shows Weston Park after Capability Brown's time. The walled garden that he had suggested can be seen as the two rectangular enclosures numbered '42'. The centre wall has a number of buildings, filled in pink, which were glasshouses for tender plants
A Walled Garden of Wonder
The walled garden was very much its own world, where classic English vegetables like potatoes and carrots were grown but also crops that originally were from overseas
Photograph of the Conservatory at Weston Park (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
Weston Park's Jones & Clarke Conservatory
The family's gardens at Weston Park included a spectacular domed conservatory that enabled tender flowering plants to be grown
A Place of Entertainment
This was the perfect place for the family and the guests to admire flowering plants that were non-native to England
The Conservatory at Weston Park, seen from the east (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
A Rebuilt Conservatory
A conservatory still exists, but its framing is now timber, rather than cast iron, and it was made by Foster & Pearson who also supplied the walled gardens with their working greenhouses
Looking through the Conservatory at Weston Park (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
The Foster & Pearson Glasshouses
Structures, like the Foster & Pearson glasshouses, were invaluable for providing shelter for plants that were not used to hard English winters and we know that delicate plants were in the gardens at Weston Park and other English country houses from at least the eighteenth century.
Botanists and nurserymen were collecting seeds from abroad and sharing them with other gardeners. Philip Miller, the chief gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden was enormously influential with new introductions.
The Gardener's Dictionary
Miller not only wrote on the subject of gardening, including his Gardeners Dictionary, but he acquired and exchanged seeds from around the world. His contacts included John Bartram, the Quaker farmer, botanist, explorer and horticulturalist from Pennsylvania. These horticulturalists encouraged places like Weston Park to take a global view of gardening with a constant quest for ever more exotic food that might impress and give nutrition.
LIFE Photo Collection
Exotics in Rural England
In the eighteenth century, walled gardens like Weston Park's were used to cultivate not only native food but also items that were non-indigenous. Of these, by far the most prized was the pineapple
Pineapples at Weston Park
The pineapple house still stands in the walled garden and we know that there was success in pineapple growing at Weston Park. Family letters from the 1780s tell us about pineapples being sent to friends and family.
Pineapple and Banana Pallets (2016) by Gustavo Otero | Colection Museum of TomorrowMuseu do Amanhã
Pineapple as a symbol of Hospitality and Endless Possibility
Today, our view, as an independent conservation and educational charity is that if pineapples could be grown in cold eighteenth century England, then there's nothing to stop us in our contemporary ambitions - and that applies to the learners who join us at Weston Park!
The upper walled garden at Weston Park (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
Breaking New Ground
Although the walled garden at Weston Park had been put to grass in the 1980s, we've started to open beds and to return the area to cultivation. We have a massively popular public restaurant, the Granary Brasserie and so it helps us reduce food miles
The Kitchen GardenHighgrove Gardens
Green Shoots of Success
Our visitors are delighted to see the ground going back under cultivation and the plants are thriving. Nothing tastes better than freshly grown, seasonal food and our diners in the Brasserie and in the House itself are noticing this
Focusing on the Young
In the UK, almost 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to 1 in 3 when they start secondary school. These are frightening statistics -not just for the individuals but for society as a whole with health systems under pressure
Catalogue from Bees Ltd, Liverpool (1953) by Bees LtdGarden Museum
Helping to Change the Direction of Diet
At Weston Park, we are fortunate in having a fascinating heritage and a resource that is producing fresh, healthy food and we want to share the benefits of this to our young audiences - especially school groups.
Lithographic print of vegetables (c.1905) by H.G.BanksGarden Museum
From Seed to Salad
We're changing the direction of our curricular study visits to incorporate visits to the walled garden so that children can see food production for themselves. They'll see that it can be simple and can be exciting when they meet our enthusiastic team
Digging Young Leeks, Coombe House Gardens (c.1919) by M.E. MillsGarden Museum
Is it Old Fashioned?
Some might think that growing your own fruit and veg is something that grandad did and that it's all in the world of black-and-white photography
Fork to Fork Makes Sense
As we all become more globally responsible, though, the question of seasonality (eating food in its natural season) and sustainability becomes ever more important
Planting and Sowing at Coombe House Gardens, Croydon (c.1919) by M.E. MillsGarden Museum
Reaping What You Sow
If we are to protect our planet then we not only need to take a different view of food and where it comes from but we also have to think more about the diets that we are all eating and how even food consumption - and what it can lead to - has an impact on the world
Starting Them Young
By explaining about the processes that we are using at Weston Park and sharing a little of the knowledge and expertise of our own garden team and volunteers, we are convinced that we can make a difference to our young visitors' lives
Digging for Victory
The resources of a walled kitchen garden and also the output of the food consumption that Weston Park enjoys through its team of chefs producing for the kitchen at the estate is exceptional
Picking the Best of the Crop
Our own chefs - who really know what makes a great meal - are delighted to have the resources of freshly produced food on site. Its journey to the consumer can be measured in metres rather than miles!
Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà by Helena KrigeThe Centenary Project
Cooking up a Feast
Whilst it can be difficult to always eat fresh, since we all lead ever-busier lives, the difference that it makes can be measured not only in the pleasure of the taste of the food but also in the nutritional value too.
Before we make a meal, though, we have to learn about our ingredients and this is why we feel passionately that it is important that we teach our young visitors about the value of fresh
Adding ingredients to ground beans (2019)The Centenary Project
One Spoon at a Time
Whether it is home-grown or freshly bought from the market, foods that offer a balanced diet are vital for healthy lives - and for future success
The gate to the Tear Drop Garden at Weston Park (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
The Secret Garden
What child can resist the excitement of a garden gate in a walled garden?
The Path to Knowledge and Health
We would like to encourage greater numbers of school visitors to visit Weston Park's walled garden over the coming years to not only develop their own food knowledge but also to follow our journey in restoring this exceptional and historic Capability Brown garden
Fresh produce from Weston Park's walled garden (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park
The Food of the Gods
We're already harvesting some fantastic crops of food from the walled garden and the story of their growth and use is one that every child should learn
Fresh vibrant foods - with no additives - speak for themselves. When deliciously cooked there can be no excuse for not eating greens!
Making an exit - Deputy Head Gardener Dan Charlesworth leave Weston Park's upper walled garden (2017) by Weston Park FoundationWeston Park