Kelmarsh Hall shortlisted for the Historic Houses Garden of the Year - Rugby and Daventry Radio Station, Midlands UK            

Kelmarsh Hall shortlisted for the Historic Houses Garden of the Year

Written by on July 8, 2021

Article Published on Thursday July 8, 2021 10:09 PM by

Kelmarsh Hall shortlisted for the Historic Houses Garden of the Year

Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens in Northamptonshire are among eight nominees for the prestigious Historic Houses award.

The Garden of the Year Award, sponsored by Christie’s, recognises the importance of some of the country’s most spectacular gardens with outstanding horticultural and public appeal. The awards started have celebrated Britain’s magnificent historic parks and gardens since 1984. The non-for-profit cooperative association represents the UK’s largest collection of independently owned heritage properties.

Nestled in the rolling Northamptonshire countryside, Kelmarsh Hall is an elegant Grade I listed country house built in 1732 to a James Gibbs design and surrounded by Grade II* listed gardens set in the heart of a traditional agricultural estate. The former home of society decorator Nancy Lancaster, the “doyenne of English Country House style,” Kelmarsh still reflects the essence of her panache and flair. They are now in the care of an independent charitable trust, The Kelmarsh Trust, charged with maintaining it in perpetuity for the benefit of the nation.

The award-winning gardens include a formal terrace, horse chestnut avenues, rose gardens and the historic walled kitchen garden. Kelmarsh is open to the public to enjoy the gardens or take a guided tour of the Hall. Kelmarsh Hall, gardens and parkland can also be hired exclusively for weddings, corporate events and private parties.

The gardens ethos stems from Lancaster, an American socialite and the doyenne of English Country House style, who moved to Kelmarsh Hall in the 1920’s. She brought to Kelmarsh an eclectic mixture of style, a wealth of good taste, and a love of all things beautiful. She also is credited with being the originator of the shabby chic style, relaxed, a little frayed but a lot welcoming. Working alongside the renowned garden designer Norah Lindsay, the two women created a garden that has not only stood the test of time but continues to inspire and relate to gardeners and visitors alike. Despite their grand canvas, the gardens have an intimate, feminine feel, occasionally broken by wide pastoral views over a lost medieval village or the 18th century Lake.

The Team Behind the Gardens

The hard work, enthusiasm, and love that goes on behind the scenes at Kelmarsh is mammoth. From the very top, the Trustees and Management ensure that the Gardens ethos and structure are preserved and maintained in perpetuity for the nation. The Gardeners ensure that the life cycle of the seasons continues to reflect the floral wish lists of those that have gone before and last but not least, there is a band of enthusiastic, willing volunteers that ensure the tea, cake and smiles are forever flowing amongst the flowers.

Tracey Spokes, Head Gardener said,

“We only ever truly borrow our Gardens, and it is up to us to not only preserve our past but welcome the future.

“Everyone here knows that we are only very privileged caretakers, and despite the last twelve months of uncertainty, the gardens continue to grow and flourish.”

The Kelmarsh Trust is an independent charitable trust set up in 1982 by the last family members to reside in the Hall, the Lancaster family. The trust receives no function from the government, relying on donations, legacies and fundraising to continue to care for the hall, gardens, and wider landscape, and to keep Kelmarsh open to everyone, forever.

How to vote

The Garden of the Year is not judged by professional gardeners, but voted for by the general public who judge the gardens purely based on their enjoyment. Voting is free and open to anyone but restricted to one vote per person. Voting closes on Thursday 30 September 2021, with the results announced at the Historic Houses AGM in November.

If you enjoy Kelmarsh Hall Gardens they welcome you to vote on behalf of the trust, devoted head gardeners, and the team of dedicated volunteer.

To vote, click here

Kelmarsh Hall (pic: Sarah Vivienne)
Photo of Kelmarsh Hall shortlisted for the Historic Houses Garden of the Year | All Text and Images are the Copyright property of unless otherwise stated above. Where the Copyright ownership does not sit with the text and images are used under the creative commons and fair use frameworks with the relevant credits offered.

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