Walled Kitchen Gardens

The walled kitchen gardens of Northamptonshire is a subject that has not previously been researched. This is surprising considering the importance of kitchen gardens in social, economic and garden history.

However, when you read the history of any large garden the walled kitchen garden usually only gets a passing mention so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.

Even Country Life, founded in 1897 and renowned for its coverage of country houses and their gardens, glossed over kitchen gardens and before long dropped all mention of them.

Our research includes reference to property sale catalogues, estate and Ordnance Survey maps, estate and national archives, aerial photographs and, crucially, site surveys.

Walled kitchen gardens went into a severe decline in the 20th century for a variety of reasons including labour costs (it was extremely labour intensive to keep such gardens in full production). More recently they have become prime sites for exclusive housing developments.

It may therefore be all the more astonishing to see how many survive at all, albeit often in a somewhat reduced and sometimes forlorn state.

We shall be working our way around the county recording the history of the walled kitchen gardens in our area and recording the information for future researchers. We have identified approaching 200 walled kitchen gardens. We have no intention of surveying all of them, and indeed many no longer exist, so it’s simply a question of recording those as having existed at a given point in time.

So far, we have surveyed 34 gardens and are in the process of writing reports on each of them.

Walled kitchen gardens open to the public

  • Boughton House
  • Delapré Abbey
  • Kelmarsh Hall
  • Lamport Hall.

Sulby Walled Kitchen Garden (Courtesy of Alison Lowe)

Second prize winner in Walled Kitchen Garden themed Art Competition – Chichele Garden Fair

The results of our research so far

WKG Exhibition.pdf
A New Glasshouse for Stoke Park.pdf
Sulby Gardens.pdf

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The walled kitchen garden at the Blatherwycke Estate