historic gardens

Historic Gardens Day

Sunday 10 July 2016

A Historic Gardens Weekend will take place at the Museum in Singleton, from 11am to 5pm on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd June 2017.

If you have an interest in plants, their uses and history then add the Historic Gardens Weekend to your diary!

This is the time when our gardening team put down their tools for a short while and put on beautiful displays, as well as leading guided walks through the gardens and giving demonstrations on the fascinating properties of plants.

Today we use gardens as a room outside, with a strong leisure focus, as well as sometimes producing some food. But this luxury was not available to the inhabitants of the historic homes you visit at the Museum. Herbs for health, vegetables and herbs for the pot as well as for strewing in the home and other purposes made the garden an essential space for the wellbeing of the family.

Also this year, medicinal herbalist and author Christina Stapley will hold a mini-residency from 27th June-1 July at the end of the Historic Gardens Weekend. She will focus on different topics every day: native British herbs on Wednesday, Roman and Anglo-Saxon plants on Thursday; influences of Arabic and North American plants on Friday, and over the weekend 16th century botanist and herbalist John Gerard and his famous herbal and history of plants.  On each day there will be a series of 10-minute talks as well as demonstrations and displays covering the day’s theme. (Christina will also be giving an evening talk on Drugs from Natural Sources on 28 June, and tutors a range of hands-on workshops for our course programme – find out more on pages).

Throughout the year our gardeners work hard in our seven period gardens to ensure the pests are kept at bay, and produce, from Bayleaf farmhouse garden, for example, can be used in the Tudor kitchen giving visitors an insight into the way food was produced 500 years ago and more. From the upkeep of fencing in the early months of the year, to planting and protecting young plants in the spring to harvesting in the autumn and planning for the following year, the activity in our gardens is non-stop!

This event marks the beginning of summer in the gardens surrounding some of south east England’s finest rescued historic buildings. It is a wonderful opportunity to see six period gardens – each of which has been carefully recreated to show the transition of gardens from the early 16th century through to the late 19th century.

Special activities on this day include:

  • A chance to join a gardens tour led by the Museum Gardeners at 11.30am, 2pm and 3.30pm.
  • Explore the six historic gardens and chat to the gardening team
  • See the Museum Herbarium – an historical record of plants grown at the Museum
  • Watch a film of the work in the historic gardens through the year
  • See a display of natural dyeing and how the plants grown in the gardens create some beautiful coloured cloth
  • Watch demonstrations of scything and tool making
  • Find out about the 18th century stillroom and Tudor apothecary
  • Taste some cooking in the Tudor kitchen made with the produce grown at the Museum
  • Under the Market Hall see demonstrations of how rosary beads and tussie mussies are made, wash your hands with soapwort, see a display of hanging herbs and find out about their uses. This is another hub where you can chat to our team about plants here and their uses
  • Heritage herbs and seeds will be available for sale

This event uniquely showcases each garden, which not only represents the historic period of its adjoining farmhouse or cottage but also the social status of the householder. Herbs, vegetables and plants that would have met the needs of rural households over the centuries provide an informative, attractive and historical display.

In addition to this event, visitors to the Museum can explore the gardens on any day that we are open, plus meet the gardening team working in the gardens every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the summer months,. Come along and ask about the unique plants and their culinary and medicinal uses.

Information for visitors

The Museum will be open for the Historic Gardens Day from 10.30am until 6.00pm, with the garden activities taking place between 11am and 5pm.

Visitors with disabilities are advised to read about access here and to contact the Museum in advance of their visit, to discuss the easiest way to access the site:

T: 01243 811363
T:  01243 8141348 (recorded 24-hour information line)
E: [email protected]

The Museum’s waterside café will be open, plus there are indoor and outdoor picnic areas.  Dogs on leads are welcome and there is ample free parking.  Regular Museum admission charges apply (free for Annual Members). Find out more about our historic gardens here.