Summer Visit to Woodhouse Farm Walled Garden

Our 2015 Summer visit found us visiting the Walled Garden at Woodhouse Farm, Whittington. Last December, Annamarie Stone gave us a fascinating talk on the lost estate of Fisherwick. The Palladian house of Lord Donegal was demolished in the early part of the nineteenth century, the extensive estate of 2,300 acres, landscaped by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, was sub-divided into separate smallholdings and sold off, whilst the walled garden and further land came into the ownership of the Pagets of nearby Elford Hall (also now demolished). By the early part of the twentieth century the garden complemented the Pagets' own walled garden at Elford (itself the subject of a Civic Society visit some years ago) but, following its use for growing vegetables in the Second World War, it became part of the 20 acre smallholding of Woodhouse Farm.

The walled garden, at 3 acres in extent, is one of the largest in the country and Annamarie with a small band of volunteers has worked since 2009 to rescue the previously cultivated areas from years of neglect. We were taken aback by the scale of the operation, with most of the garden now under cultivation for a wide variety of crops. Fruit was particularly dominant but extensive areas have been given over to root crops. All are sold commercially in the locality; whilst the farm and garden are open on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons for the sale of fruit and vegetables (as well as eggs and meat from the farm). The operation is supported through a Community Interest Company. This is a new type of arrangement for social enterprises which want to use their profits for public good. To that end, the farm welcomes people with mental heath issues who have been referred to them by the NHS for therapeutic work.

The two hour visit ended with a short talk about the history of the estate by Annamarie, followed by tea and home made cakes.

Roger Hockney
August 2015