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Manor House Ilkley Medieval Garden Project

Designing the Medieval Garden

My father, Keith Appleyard, used to be Partner here at Pearce Bottomley Architects from the early 1960s to just up to 2000 - and now he’s retired in Addingham, near Ilkley. However, there’s no stopping him, and he often volunteers, keeping himself busy - that’s how Pearce Bottomley was introduced to the Manor House Ilkley Medieval Gardens project.

He began volunteering for Manor House Ilkley - one of the oldest domestic buildings in Yorkshire - around seven years ago, and he offered to help them revive their medieval gardens through creating a design for them. The plans for redesigning the garden had been considered for a while, due to the history of the house - with parts of the building dating back to the 14th century. They wanted a garden that reflected the plants, herbs and structures that would have been grown and enjoyed in the medieval period.

Keith conducted a huge amount of research into the types of structures and plants that would have been used in the medieval ages, and created a designed idea for the committee – they were delighted and supported the proposals.

Keith then proceeded to turn the sketches into reality. It wasn’t a small job - it involved some major stonework, which were sourced from a Lloyds TSB bank building being demolished in Ilkley. I provided some assistance where I could, together with enthusiastic neighbour – John.

Sourcing the Materials and Medieval Plants

All of the materials were sourced by Keith, and he conducted research into the types of plants that would have been used within a medieval garden. He visited the National Trust East Riddlesden Hall, where he spoke to their resident gardener who kindly gave him a good understanding of all of the types of herbs and kitchen plants that would have been used in those ages. They even gave him cuttings of around 50 herbs and plants that have since been used within the Ilkley Manor Garden.

Keith also sourced medieval fruit trees, such as quince, medler, and mulberry; and found medieval style Yorkshire roses - which were much simpler than the roses that have evolved and grown through the ages.

Manor House Ilkley Medieval Garden Plan

Opening the Gardens to the Public

The Ilkley Manor sundial was added into the garden, amongst trees that have now been registered as part of the late Queen’s Green Canopy. This was created as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in 2022.

The gardens opened to the public in May 2023, with Alan Titchmarsh and the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Martin Lowe at the open day celebrations.

A photo of John, with Alan Tichmarsh and the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Martin Lowe

The gardens are now open to visit all year round alongside visiting the Ilkley Manor House heritage centre. For more information, visit the Manor House website.


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