Chirk Castle, Chirk, Clwyd, LL14 5AF
This can be a very windy place according to one of
its owners Lady Margaret Myddleton and this is why the parkland has
fairly dense trees to provide a windbreak. The formal gardens are now
so mature that I'm sure that even on the windiest of days the topiary
can be enjoyed in a light breeze but no matter anytime of the year would
be a good time to visit.
Statue set off by walled hedges
Yes its a castle and a very fine one too. Built at
the time when the English Kings wanted to keep the Welsh out of England
and showed their power by building state of the art edifices. Unlike
many a medieval castle in Wales however, this one is not a ruin and
has been lived in continuously up to the present day. I know I say this
about all the houses but go inside if you can. I particularly liked
the long gallery but you might like the plaster work or the paneling,
anyway this is a grand home by anybodies standards.
A welsh hat maybe?
But its the topiary you've come to see of course.
Some are said to look like Welsh ladies hats. I'll leave you to decide.
Fine guard of honour
The main specimens are big anyway and take a team
of gardeners from mid August until October to clip them.
View of topiary in scale with the castle
Gardening in earnest began at Chirk in 1653 when Sir
Thomas Myddleton, a general who had done rather well out of the Civil
War thank you very much, laid out a formal pleasure garden for the amusement
of himself and his friends. This included a bowling green surrounded
by several banqueting houses.In 1708 Sir Richard started the topiary
craze by establishing a sunken parterre in the shape of a fleur -de-lis
near to the castle.
In 1761 William Emes, of the Landscape movement, created
the open parkland which disappears down the hill but it was not until
the late nineteenth Century that Richard Myddleton Biddulph revived
the formal gardens by planting the yew trees which we see today. During
the Second World War the gardens fell into sorry decay but the present
owners Colonel Ririd and Lady Margaret Myddleton painstakingly restored
them until you see the glory that is today. Lady Margaret is also mainly
responsible for the herbaceous planting. The National Trust took over
responsibility for Chirk Castle in 1981 to ensure that the garden will
live for ever and yew trees in particular are something which nearly
Bird and magnificent arch
All photographs by Anthony Blagg.
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