What we do

We help to preserve and conserve Yorkshire’s historic gardens and designed landscapes (see 'What is a designed landscape?', below) for the benefit of the present and the future. We conduct original research (which we publish) about the history of Yorkshire’s gardens and designed landscapes, comment expertly on planning applications about them, advise owners on how to preserve them, and encourage interest in them among people of all ages with our visits to designed landscapes, be they historic parks, gardens, public parks or cemeteries.

We are part of the national network of gardens trusts and co-operate with our colleagues nationally on matters that relate to gardens and designed landscapes, such as planning law and practice, celebrating significant figures like Humphry Repton, or types of landscapes such as parks and cemeteries.

What is a designed landscape?

A designed landscape is any landscape that people have changed for aesthetic reasons. Designed landscapes include gardens, parks, cemeteries and estates. Our interest in them is not just in the plants and planting, but in everything that the landscape contains, including built structures, such as follies, summer houses, banqueting houses and walls, and water features of all kinds.

We are interested in their past, present and future, including their importance in the struggle to maintain a liveable climate, their importance as habitats for all kinds of living creatures, and their importance for human health, mental and physical. We are interested in all designed landscapes but pay particular attention to Registered designed landscapes (see 'Registered designed landscapes', below), since these have statutory protection, and part of our research effort is devoted to learning more about landscapes that are not registered, as well as about landscapes that no longer exist in their designed form.  

Registered designed landscapes

Designed landscapes thought to be the most significant in England are registered to the national scheme administered by Historic England. There are currently 1,699 parks and gardens (the term used to denote all designed landscapes by Historic England), which it classifies as Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II. Nationally, there are 146 Grade I landscapes (9% of the total), 460 (27%) at Grade II* and 1093 (64%) at Grade II. Yorkshire is home to 9 (6% of the Grade I landscapes on the register) landscapes at Grade I, 25 (5%) at grade II* and 94 (9%) at grade II. The number of registered designed landscapes is not fixed, and our research can help to increase their numbers, as well as uprate the grading of landscapes already on the register.

A more comprehensive database of significant designed landscapes, which includes unregistered landscapes, can be found on the Parks and Gardens website, to which we contribute our research.

Read more on this topic in the Research and in Conservation sections of this website.