Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Following the Bank holiday weekend, spent with friends and family, we continued southward again, first visiting Quarry Bank Mill. I was particularly interested to see a cotton mill as it was during the Industrial Revolution. Many of my ancestors worked in the mills. My GG Grandfather was an copper plate engraver for a Calico printing works. Others ancestors spent their days weaving and spinning the cotton. At the end of the tour we were really glad to get away from the terrible noise of machinery and head towards our next B&B for the night, Yew Tree farm, in the Cheshire country side.


Next day we were to visit Biddulph Grange and Little Moreton Hall.


Biddulph Grange is a Victorian plant collector's garden. From 1840-1897 James Bateman and his artist friend Edward William Cooke, created a world of plants, filling the gardens with plants brought back by the great plant collectors. The early 1800s brought a huge demand for exotic plants. As a result the Horticultural Society sent plant hunters to the four corners of the world to search for new species. The value of these specimens was so great that sometimes whole species were stripped from their native home in order to prevent others from also having them. Collecting and propagating plants was big business.

One plant collection trip netted over 2 million plants and another time 3000 seeds from the monkey puzzle tree were collected. That explains the frequent sightings of these trees in our visited gardens. Although methods of transporting improved as the years went by hundreds of plants were lost during the often treacherous trip back to England.

MAny of these plants were to end up int he gardens at Biddulph Grange.
View from the terrace of the house. Faint patches of pink in the background are rhododendrons.

Bateman divided garden into many different rooms, based on the countries of the world; Italianate, Chinese, Egyptian and Himalayan to name a few.

The stumpery. I think we could create quite a stumpery on parts of our property. In the 1950s a fire raged through our lot taking down many trees. The stumps of cedars are everywhere. Growing ferns, however, would be a problem. I think the deer would enjoy the delicacy of fiddleheads.

Chinese garden.

leaving the Chinese garden.

The lime avenue

There were lots of dark tunnels through the rocks. I didn't care for these but I'm sure children would have a great time playing hide and seek in the gardens.
Our visit to Biddulph was an add on to our planned itinerary. It happened to be close by Moreton Hall. I'm glad we visited but we were in a hurry to move on.

How could you not fall in love with a house like this. This timber framed, moated house is a perfect example of a 'magpie' house.

I think Little Moreton has to be one of my all time favorites. It looks as though it might topple down at any moment. The original house, begun in 1504, by Richard de Moreton, was just a single story to begin with. Then another floor was added, followed by the then fashionable addition of the long gallery. The foundation was never meant to carry these additional floors and the Trust in recent years had to install a structural basket in order to prevent the whole house from tumbling
The Elizabethan knot garden, recreated in 20th C, from plans taken from Leonard Meager's book The Complete Gardener, published in 1670.

The original windows.

In the parlor these hand painted wallpaper panels were discovered when doing some electrical work in the room which required the removal of some later added paneling.

The privy or garderobe. This latter name came from the fact that clothes were hung in here to protect them from insect damage. The ammonia in this room acted as a natural insecticide!

This photo shows what a higglety pigglety house this is.

Etchings in the window glass.

Spinning and weaving exhibition in the long gallery.

This tea cozy was spun, dyed and knitted by the lady above. It now graces my morning teapot.
Every day brings new and exciting visits. We were now heading into Wales to spend the night at Tan Y Graig in Meifod, Powys. Tomorrow we would be visiting Powys Castle.


  1. What a great tour you had. Thanks again for taking us along.
    My two favorite subjects are history and gardens. How wonderful to combine them.

  2. hmmm. higgety, piggety? Is that a 3 pigs rhyme? I would imagine the ammonia smell probably keep insects away in the whole house. Don't imagine they put there sunday best in there! lol

  3. The Chinese garden is lovely and exquisite. And the wooden house is amazing!
    Thank you for showing your photos.