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Harlaxton Walled garden

Gregory Gregory.jpg

The walled garden at Harlaxton Manor was central to the vision of the Manor's builder, Gregory Gregory.

One of the features that makes Harlaxton Manor so special is its gardens and in particular the walled garden which sits firmly on display off the main approach to the house down the mile long drive from the A607.

This garden, like so much of Harlaxton Manor, is a reflection of the personality and tastes of its builder, Gregory Gregory. A fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, Gregory planned the house and gardens as a single entity and whereas most country house owners would have seen a walled garden as a practical space supplying food for the house Gregory saw his as something to celebrate and show off. 

His walled garden is not tucked away at the rear or side of the house as is normally the case -  it takes pride of place on the approach to the manor and was certainly a feature shown off to visitors. Sadly since the second world war it has fallen into disuse and disrepair.

The 6.5 acre walled garden is amongst largest in Britain. The red brick and stone garden walls and Gardener's House were built in Tudor Revival style in 1832 to 1844, most probably by William Burn for Gregory Gregory. The Walled Garden includes a series of linked polygonal gardens crossed by cambered brick paths. One wall of the gardener's house had heating flues for lean-to vine houses, now partly collapsed.

The description of the Walled Garden from English Heritage National Heritage List follows: "The walled kitchen garden (c 1832-44, probably by Burn, listed grade II*), with ornate brick walls with stone coping, is located in the centre of the site, 500m north-west of the Manor and adjacent to the north-east side of the main drive. The main part of the garden, a half-hexagon with an inner and outer wall, has its longest wall abutting the main drive. Set into the centre of this wall are ornate iron gates flanked by clairvoies allowing views into the garden. The gardener's house lies to the north-west of the garden within a separate walled enclosure. Free-standing C20 greenhouses stand in this enclosure. The gardener's house is shown flanked by greenhouses in the 1880s Ordnance Survey map; these are no longer extant."

Exciting plans have been drawn up by Harlaxton College to restore and reopen the grade two listed walled garden to create a focal point for education and community activities opening in 2025.

Their plans envisage the restoration of the whole walled garden site to create a visitor destination as well as spaces for the education of students. It will also host weddings, concerts and exhibitions and can also be used by local groups and the wider community.


Key features of the restoration include renovating the historic walls, gates and railings along with existing buildings which include the Gardener’s Cottage, outbuildings and glasshouses. This will involve the planting of a new sensory garden, medicinal garden, orchard, and a themed Shakespeare-garden where plants mentioned in his plays will be cultivated. The site will also feature an avenue of blossoming trees plus an Innovation Hub for students and a shop and restaurant and cafe.

The proposals have been jointly prepared by Harlaxton College with the support of leading conservationists, heritage managers and environmental experts plus representatives of the community and officers of South Kesteven District Council, Historic England and Lincolnshire County Council.


The Head Gardeners

The position of Head Gardener must have been one of the most significant of all of the staff maintaining the manor and gardens, and one family had a monoloply on the post for more than 130 years.

The Vinden Family were the Head Gardener's at Harlaxon Manor from 1860 through to 1938.

Thomas Vinden was born in Whitchurch, Oxfordshire in 1829. Thomas was appointed Head Gardener at Harlaxton Manor in 1860. He married Catherine Dive (d.1859) and had one son, Frederick (who died in 1858) and then married Harriet Parton (1832-1907). Thomas and Harriet had six children: Elizabeth (1861-1927), twins: William (1863/4-1928), Henry (1863/4-Oct 1915), John Frank (1866-March 1942) and Sarah (1869-1931).


The 1861 census shows Thomas Vinden as being a gardener in Bramcote, Notts, presumably working for John Sherwin, who resided at Bramcote Hills House until he inherited the Gregory estates in 1860, and assumed the name John Sherwin Gregory.


By the 1871 census, Thomas and family were resident at Harlaxton Manor where he was Head Gardener until he died in 1897.

Thomas's two sons succeeded him as head gardener.

The 1911 census shows the Gardener's House, Harlaxton Manor as being home to Frank Vinden age 45, Head Gardener, single; James Vigor age 23, assistant; Henry Vinden age 47, Gardener; and Emily Amy Vinden nee Eaton (wife of Henry and Housekeeper for Frank) age 33 (1878-1958). Emily and Henry Vinden had one daughter, Vera.

Frank Vinden took over as Head Gardiner in 1897 and stayed at The Manor until he retired in 1939. Frank moved to Leicester after he retired.

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