Inspired by National Gardening Week in May, we’ve dug into the Normanby archives and unearthed some interesting history about our gardens.
Back in the early 20th century the Sheffield family employed a large team of gardeners, who were responsible for maintaining the large kitchen garden. This, and the glass house produced beautiful fruits, vegetables and flowers for the hall.
The family loved to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. Each morning, an apprentice would visit the kitchen and make a list of the vegetables the staff wanted to prepare meals for the family. The gardeners would use the heated frame in the glass houses to grow different varieties throughout the year. Unusual produce was especially prized, and, during the 1920’s, even pineapples were grown in the garden, which would have been considered exotic at the time.
Charlie Gibbons, Head Gardener at Normanby Hall during the 1930’s remembered:
“They used to grow all the vegetables like, out of season… ‘Cos they (the family) always liked the young vegetables, they didn’t like the old stuff… And of course under glass they had grapes and peaches and nectarines, and all that sort of thing, like. We had to keep ‘em supplied”
Every morning before breakfast the head gardener and one of his men would visit the hall and arrange the flower displays in a separate flower room. Unusual specimens were favoured, to impress guests staying at the Hall. They put on overshoes before carrying them into the hall to avoid marking the carpets.
On occasion they even provided flowers for official ceremonies in Scunthorpe, such as the opening of a new Post Office in 1939.
Thanks to National Lottery funding, the Walled Garden was restored in 1997 and this year our Parks and Gardens team are working on a ‘Dig for Victory’ themed display to celebrate VE Day.
We will be growing vegetables that would have been the staple during the Second World War, including many cultivars that haven’t been grown before at Normanby. Grass paths will help visitors to get closer to the crops and flower beds, and there’ll be bedding displays of the Union Jack and other emblems.
We can’t wait to see this exciting project take shape! Be sure to follow the park social media pages for any updates.