The Gardens

The History

Melbourne Hall Gardens with its broad sweeps of lawn, avenues and unexpected vistas is one of the most treasured historical gardens in the country and is the best surviving early 18th century English garden in the manner of le Notre. It was laid out by Rt. Hon Thomas Coke, Vice Chamberlain to Queen Anne, with help from the garden landscape designers George London and Henry Wise in the formal style. It is noted for its long tunnel of Yew, its wrought iron arbour created by Robert Bakewell and its statuary by Jan van Nost, notably the Four seasons monument, a gift from Queen Anne.

There have been few radical alterations to the gardens since the early 18th century. However, in the earlier part of t he 20th century, Lord Walter Kerr and his wife Lady Amabel carried out extensive restoration.

Lord Ralph Kerr took over running the Melbourne estate in 1987. His wife Lady Ralph Kerr is a painter of both portraits and landscapes. Her passion for gardening has developed the garden at Melbourne in many ways. Her eye for colour and detail means that the Melbourne garden is a haven of delightful and unusual specimen trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders.

Although still very much an 18th century garden, the new planting schemes have introduced greater botanical interest.

The Birdcage at Melbourne Hall Gardens

The Birdcage

A major feature of the garden is the wrought iron arbour known as the ‘Birdcage’ which was designed and constructed by the celebrated ironsmith Robert Bakewell between 1706-1708 and finally completed in 1711 for £120.

It was made in the basement of ‘Stone House’, which still stands on the South side of the parish church. The arbour made Bakewell famous, but its manufacture left him penniless.

In form, it is derived from wooden arbours common on French gardens. Bakewell went on to produce famous ironwork for many important buildings. Two other examples nearby are the chancel screens in Derby Cathedral and Staunton Harold Church.

Vistas & Statues