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Walled garden at Wakefield Lodge

A Grade II Listed Building in Potterspury, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.0813 / 52°4'52"N

Longitude: -0.9141 / 0°54'50"W

OS Eastings: 474510

OS Northings: 243109

OS Grid: SP745431

Mapcode National: GBR BY5.HQG

Mapcode Global: VHDSR.3YMB

Plus Code: 9C4X33JP+G9

Entry Name: Walled garden at Wakefield Lodge

Listing Date: 12 June 2017

Last Amended: 9 March 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1445302

Location: Potterspury, South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, NN12

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Potterspury

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Potterspury with Furtho and Yardley Gobion

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough

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Walled garden built in the 1860s.


Walled garden built in the 1860s.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in English bond with saddleback coping.

PLAN: the walled garden has a rectangular plan and is situated to the east of Dairy Farm in the eastern part of the park.

The current Ordnance Survey map still depicts the gardener’s cottage in the north-east corner but this has been demolished (2017).

EXTERIOR: the large, four-acre walled garden has wide opposing entrances on the north and south sides, the latter has a segmental brick arch but the former has been knocked through. There are four other openings on the north wall: two vertical plank doors under a gauged brick arch at either end, and two boarded up doorways under wooden lintels in the eastern half of the wall. The brick plinth and metal frame of a long, lean-to glasshouse survives on the inside of the heated north wall at the west end. The frame bears the stamp ‘Beard’s Patent Bury St Edmund’ which probably refers to the glazing system patented by G. Beard and Son in 1879. The north fruit wall also retains cast-iron brackets at the east and west ends which would have supported glass casements and panes to protect fruit, and possibly also netting for protection against birds.
On the outer side of the north wall there are two long lean-to ranges of bothies and sheds with tile-clad roofs and exposed rafter feet at the eaves. These would have been used as tool rooms, workshops, seed rooms, store rooms etc. The sheds are in a dilapidated and partly ruinous state but retain some features including casements windows, window shutters, plank and batten doors, built-in cupboards, and a cast-iron fireplace. The openings and brick chimney breasts for the internal smoke flues that would have heated the fruit wall also survive, as does a brick vaulted mushroom house.

The north-east corner of the walled garden was knocked through when the cottage was demolished.


Wakefield Walk formed one large division of the six thousand acre medieval forest of Whittlewood, and a deer park is first recorded in the vicinity of Wakefield Lodge in 1230. Whittlewood Forest formed part of the Honor of Grafton which was created by Henry VIII in 1541. An enclosed park is shown on Saxton’s map of 1576, and a map of c.1608 shows a forest keeper’s lodge to the south of a triangular fishpond. The most striking feature was Wakefield Lawn which had been enlarged around 1600 by James I and was enveloped by woodland. The lawn was overlooked by Wakefield Great Lodge, a royal hunting lodge which became successively the residence of the keeper, and then the lieutenant of the forest. In about 1670 the Honor of Grafton was granted to Queen Catherine, and following her death in 1705 it passed to Charles Fitzroy, the second Duke of Grafton. He and his heirs were made Wardens of Whittlewood Forest from 1712. In 1747 the second Duke commenced extensive improvements which turned Wakefield into a handsome country seat. A large northern wing designed by William Kent (c.1685-1748) was added to the house, and a stable block was built on the east side of the house.

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-83) was engaged to landscape the park at Wakefield Lodge following William Kent’s death in 1748, having previously worked with Kent at nearby Stowe, where Brown was still employed. He became England’s leading and most influential landscape designer of the mid to late C18. There is no commissioned plan for Brown’s work at Wakefield Lodge but the estate accounts in August 1749 record the Great Pond being staked out by Robert Greening. Brown enhanced Wakefield Lawn by adding perspective and punctuating its expanse via his characteristic clumps of trees. He bought in beech trees and had laurels sent over from Stowe. Vistas were created by cutting a view through Hill Coppice from The Pheasantry to focus on the church spire at Hanslope; and existing ridings through to Hallow’s Brook were made broader in order to open two more vistas to the villages of Grafton Regis and Potterspury. The road running from the Lodge through Steer Coppice was extended further eastwards to form the main approach from Potterspury.

In the mid-C19, when Whittlewood was disafforested and enclosed, the 5th Duke of Grafton was allotted Wakefield Lodge and grounds as compensation for his loss of office as Keeper of Whittlewood. Around this time a new dairy farm was built to the north-east of the main house, and detailed accounts of both labourers and garden survive from the 1850s to the 1870s, and record that the kitchen garden was built in the 1860s. The first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1884 shows the garden divided by paths into four sections with a sundial in the centre. Two long ranges of bothies and sheds are arranged on the outside of the north wall. A long glasshouse is located on the inside of the north wall, at the west end; and a smaller glasshouse on the outside of the south wall, at the east end. The map shows that there were also numerous trees along the inner edges of the walled garden and aligned with the paths. By the second edition OS map of 1900 the trees had been removed and a gardener’s cottage built into the north-east corner. Since then, the small glasshouse has been removed, and the large glasshouse, bothies and sheds have become ruinous. The kitchen garden is no longer in production and is overgrown. The gardener’s cottage was demolished in May 2017.

Reasons for Listing

The walled garden at Wakefield Lodge, built in the 1860s, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* A good example of a mid-C19 walled garden distinguished by its impressive size;

* It has survived in good condition. The metal frame of the lean-to glasshouse and cast-iron brackets to support glass casements remain, along with the long rows of bothies and sheds which, though partly ruinous, provide important evidence of the ancillary elements necessary for the efficient running of a productive walled garden;

Historic interest:

* The walled garden is part of the historical evolution of Wakefield Lodge, one of the earliest commissions of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-83), the pre-eminent English landscape designer of the mid to late C18 who had a profound influence on the parks and gardens surrounding many country houses;

Group value:

* It has strong group value with the Grade II Registered park and the Grade II* listed house and stables which altogether represent an evolved country house estate of considerable historic and aesthetic significance.

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