Between 2002 and 2006 a team of YGT members undertook a project, at the request of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, to research and record historic parks and gardens in the Dales. The project was organised and led by the late Helen Lazenby and Moira Fulton. Using as a starting point the first edition Ordnance Survey maps over 140 sites, with interesting garden features, were identified. By the end of the project 117 sites had been visited and recorded with reports and photographs of these gardens supplied to the YDNP. Most owners were very co-operative in permitting access although some did not want the details of their gardens forwarded to the YDNP. Other gardens, where access was completely refused, have, in some cases, had details recorded from information in the public domain.
As would be expected most of the gardens visited were comparatively small. There were, however, some larger, grander, properties, with elaborate gardens which often belonged to industrialists from the West Riding, who built, or rebuilt, houses near the Western and Southern boundaries of the present National Park. One characteristic, which many of the gardens have in common, is that they enjoy superb views, whether from deliberate intent on the maker’s part or accident of topography cannot easily be today determined. Two other noticeable features were walled gardens and woodland walks. The often harsh weather in the Dales meant that the protection given by high stone walls was a vital requirement for the successful growing of fruit, flowers and vegetables. Although most walls were built of easily obtained local stone a few had brick linings, which would have added considerably to their building costs but had the advantage of retaining much needed heat. Ten of the sites visited were former vicarages most of which had a large lawn for Parish functions but otherwise had few common features. Nine sites were originally shooting lodges which not surprisingly generally had simple gardens.
As the researchers had to travel long distances and the time to visit each site was limited the reports on the gardens were fairly brief, although where there was archive material available, this was included.
Walled Gardens – 56 (most entirely of stone but some with brick linings)
Kitchen Gardens – 6
Summer Houses – 17
Alcoves – 6 (recesses set into garden walls)
Rockeries – 23 (at least two by Backhouse of York)
Conservatories – 15 (4 early twentieth century models by Richardson of Darlington)
Glass/Green Houses – 25
Tennis Courts – 15 ( mostly grass and no longer in use)
Terraces – 35
Bee Boles – 9 (this refers to sites as they usually occur in groups)
Ha has – 20
Lakes/ponds – 11
Fish ponds – 2
Boathouses – 5 (2 at Malham Tarn)
Grottoes – 5
Ornamental Gate Piers – 15 pairs
Woodland walks – 15
Orchards – 22 (not all still extant)
Deer Shelters – 3
Rose Gardens – 6
Bridges – 6 (within gardens)
Dovecot/pigeon cotes – 7
Specimen tree sites – 33
Ice houses – 2
As most gardens are in private ownership and are not open to the public, at present details of these cannot be published. The only one which is regularly opened to the public is Parcevall Hall, this interesting hillside garden, created by Sir William Milner, was researched and recorded by Anne Tupholme. To give some idea of the reports produced for the YDNP, three surveys of properties which are owned by local authorities or other organisations can be viewed below. NB these sites are not open to the general public.